Why Tom Hanks Is Wrong About the Pacific War

Tom Hanks recently said “They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different.” Hanks’s opinion seems to be based on the American propaganda at the time, much of which would be considered racist today. But setting aside the Japanese genocidal campaign in China, let’s take a moment to consider what Japan would look like today if what Hanks said is true.

If Hanks was correct, there would be no independent Japan today; it would be an American state populated by white Americans. Instead Japan is completely true to its 2500 year history and character.

This came about due to the conscious efforts by the American military and Foreign Service. Starting around 1943 Americans were debating what a post-war Japan would look like. It was decided that after the war the country would have the militarized elements of its society stripped out (most of these had crept in during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s as Japan’s history was romanticized by the militarists so it wasn’t tinkering with Japan’s “DNA”) and returning the country to its pre-militarist democracy: the Taisho period at the turn of the 20th century. Japan would be rebuilt as if the 1930’s and 1940’s had never happened – just without the modernizing military (that would be provided by the USA).

The Japanese were stunned. They even kept their Emperor – although the Occupation Authority made sure that the laws passed by the Japanese Diet made him a figurehead along the lines of the British Monarchy. The Americans just pulled the military out of civilian life and left the rest of Japanese society alone. I personally believe that it was this treatment which allowed the Japanese economy to recover so quickly after the devastation of the war more than America’s open market – but that’s a debatable point and impossible to prove.

In the end, however, I view our rebuilding of Japan – and Europe under the Marshall Plan – as truly America’s Finest Hour. It’s what separated us from other conquering empires, and which even today causes me to laugh whenever I hear some lefty rant about “American Imperialism.”

UPDATE:
Bookworm Room goes into more detail and does a better overall job explaining how Tom Hanks’s comments shows a disturbing lack of historical knowledge for someone who has made his career at least partly on historical narratives.

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4 Comments

  1. Watcher of Weasels » Watcher Council Submissions March 29, 2010:

    [...]  The Razor - Why Tom Hanks Is Wrong About the Pacific War [...]

  2. Bookworm Room » What I’m reading and what you should read:

    [...] The Razor - Why Tom Hanks Is Wrong About the Pacific War [...]

  3. IgotBupkis:

    Well, one observation about Japan and Germany is that the people of both nations realized how utterly they’d screwed up, and so, while there was opposition to the occupations, they mostly complied with it and took what it cost them mostly as a lesson learned. They allowed their governments to start the war, and paid the price.

    Hanks’ position is typical lefty BS —it’s not just wrong, it’s Wronger Than Wrong—as the linked article quoting Asimov’s Axiom puts it:

    “When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”

    This sort of crap goes back to a change in schoolyard attitudes since the 60s or so—If two kids get into a fight, it doesn’t matter which one started it, they both get the same punishment. Very easy to administer, because you don’t have to actually make any decisions regarding the events. But it’s wronger than wrong—starting a fight is an entire level above responding to hostile activity. Further, you didn’t have to “do something to encourage it” in all cases (one of the typical exhortations used to justify the mistreatment of the situation).

    It equates any provocation to belligerence (including not knuckling under to bullying) as the same as taking things to a physical level. It teaches “be a sheep”, “surrender”, “do as you’re told, no matter that it’s wrongful”.

    Sounds remarkably like something a fascist government wants from its ideal citizenry… doesn’t it?

  4. Watcher’s Council Results – Worn Out | Mere Rhetoric:

    [...] Click to Fade * Right Truth – This is a day that the Lord has made… * The Razor – Why Tom Hanks Is Wrong About the Pacific War * Joshuapundit – Obama Administration Strikes Disgraceful Plea Bargain With Mumbai Jihadi * [...]

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