Nearly everyone is familiar with Nazi Germany's heinous crimes against humanities. Many are familiar with the Soviet Union's similar atrocities and genocides, and some are aware of fascism's grip on other European countries. But few Westerners realize the extent of Japan's butchery during World War II.
As reported in the San Francisco Examiner, Japanese prisoners of war were kept in inhuman conditions:
In August 1945, Melvin Routt was slaving on a Japanese work farm, surrounded by sick and starving comrades, when he heard an American plane fly over, a B-29. Suddenly, he heard an enormous blast and looked up to see a mushroom-shaped cloud 17 miles away: the radioactive ashes of Nagasaki.
"It was time we did come up with a bomb to burn these people down. ... If the people in this country realized what was done (by the Japanese) to our soldiers, and to civilians, they just wouldn't stand for it," said Routt, 73, of Tracy, national commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.
What happened to Routt and his buddies in a Japanese POW camp was so bad that "it took me about 10 years before I could even talk about it," he recalls ...
"We got no medical care. ... We'd eat lizards, worms, snakes, grasshoppers. ... Most of our people starved to death. ... (The Japanese guards) told us we wouldn't survive it, but would survive longer depending on how we behaved. ... I went down to 83 pounds from 163."
In December 1937, the Japanese army invaded Nanking, China. In the following six weeks, Japanese soldiers killed more than 300,000 civilians and prisoners of war. Their atrocities included mass rapes and using Chinese civilians for bayonet practice.
The Japanese military imprisoned, enslaved and tortured prisoners of war. Thousands of prisoners died. One prisoner, British soldier Eric Lomax, wrote a book about his experience. Lomax was brutally tortured after his captors found a radio receiver he helped make out of spare parts. Lomax was beaten, his arms were broken and water was poured into his nose and mouth.
The Japanese government only recently apologized to the thousands of Korean and Chinese women enslaved as "comfort women" for Japanese troops.
After the war ended, the U.S. government engaged in a concerted coverup of Japan's war crimes. Only recently has the extent of Japan's crimes come to light, and the U.S. government's coverup has been the result of scholarly research in recent years.
Some researchers blame the coverup on the U.S.'s desire to turn Japan into an ally against the Soviet Union.
Other researchers believe the coverup was in exchange for the results of Japanese human experiments relating to biological warfare.
Sources: "They're glad U.S. dropped the bomb on Japan," in the August 14, 1995, San Francisco Examiner; August 20, 1995, New York Times News Service story; others.