Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Japanese slaughtered 5,000 Koreans on Tinian? 2

The massacre of Koreans in "Unbroken"

Hillenbrand mentions this episode twice, though totally unrelated to the story of Zampeini.  She must have a persuasive source.

First it appears in an episode where the Japanese guards learned a news about Saipan;
"That same month, American forces turned on Saipan's neighboring isle, Tinian, where the Japanese held five thousand Koreans, conscripted as laborers.  Apparently afraid that the Koreans would join the enemy if the American invaded, the Japanese employed the kill-all policy.  They murdered all five thousand Koreans." (p. 354 in my paperback)

You know, Saipan fell on July 9, 1944 and the Marines turned on Tinian on July 24, 1944, in only two weeks.  So, she means the brutal Japanese Army murdered 5,000 Koreans almost at one time.  Is it that easy to kill 5,000 human beings? Doesn't any one of them resist or fight back?  For this part, I feel like she describes them as helpless, powerless cattle or something.

At the same time, the brutal Japanese were afraid of Koreans because they might join the Americans and revenge them, according to Hillenbrand.  If they are that powerless, it won't matter even if they join the enemy.  

She presents two contradictory images of Koreans. Her description...confusing, weird...

For the second time, it appears in Chapter 32.  In the beginning of Chapter 32, she depicts the joy of POW's at the surrender of Japan.  Then, suddenly she starts listing up the Japanese so-called brutal conducts;
"In its rampage over the east, Japan had brought atrocity and death on a scale that staggers the imagination...(so much cruelty)...Thousands of other POW's were beaten, burned, stabbed, or clubbed to death, shot, beheaded, killed during medical experiments, or eaten alive in ritual acts of cannibalism....(and more)...
In accordance with the kill-all order, the Japanese massacred all 5,000 Korean captives on Tinian, ...They were evidently about to murder all the other POW's and civilians in their custody when the atomic bomb brought their empire crashing down." (pp. 502-503)

I am sure that she needed so much resentment toward Japanese to list up this many.  Now Koreans are called as "captives."  Why she wrote this part?  What is her message to us?  Does she simply hate the Japanese?  Or, she wants to justify the very last part, America's atomic bombings on Japan?

For each part, she repeats "kill-all policy or order."  This phrase comes from "Three All's Policy; kill all, burn all, and loot all," which is Anti-Japan activists' favorite term.  Where did she learn?

Hillenbrand's sources for the massacre in Tinian

She presents two sources for this incident in the back.
First one is;
Eric Lash, "Historic Island of Tinian, " Environmental Services, October 2008, vol. 1, 2nd edition.  

At first I wondered if it is a book, but the publisher is not given.  So, it's not a book.  Then I thought it might be an academic journal called Environmental Services.  But I could not find such a journal.  I also searched with the title of article and/or the author's name.  Nothing hit.  Probably it is something like a pamphlet.

This book is a million seller.  If she emphasizes her accuracy and fairness, she should present something accessible to everybody as a source.  

2ne one is;
Major General Donald Cook, "20th Air Force Today," 20th Air Force Association Newsletter, Fall 1998.

I have got this one.  This is a newsletter issued by 20th Air Force Association.  It is a newsletter, definitely not an academic journal to publish academic research.  

What is 20th Air Force Association?  This is the association of former B-29 pilots under the 20th Air Force during WWII.  The 20th Air Force was formed in 1944 specifically for the bombardment mission on Japan.  The members include ones that carried out the Great Tokyo Air Raid, performed the atomic bombs attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other attacks all over Japan during WWII.

The 509th Composite Group belongs to the 20th Air Force

They have the internet site.

Interesting photos on the site:

Mt. Fuji and B-29's

And one more

It is easy to imagine the members' attitude toward the atomic bombing.

In 1995 there was a controversy about the exhibition project of Enola Gay with the photos of Hiroshima casualties at the Smithsonian Institution.  The members of the 20th AF Association were of course among those who strongly opposed the project.

The source of Hillenbrand for the massacre on Tinian is the article in the issue of Fall 1998;

"There were no Japanese atrocities?" by Lt. General James V. Edmundson, USAF, Retired.
I will post this article in the end of this post.

So, who is Lt. Gen. Edmundson?  I found some pictures.

Lt. Gen. James V. Edmundson was stationed in Hawaii when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, and he was flying over Tokyo Bay when the Japanese representative sighed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on Missouri in 1945.

What is his article about?  The article is in pp.5-6 of the Newsletter.

He sounds very upset about the Enola Gay exhibition project in 1995.  He calls the scholars who originally planned this project as revisionists.  He accuses them, claiming that they are trying to label Americans as the aggressors, while the Japanese were simply trying to defend their country.

He lists up so called Japan's brutalities just as Hillenbrand did; the Rape of Nanking, in which Japan murdered 200,000 Chinese (it was 200,000 in 1998!), the Bataan Death March, killing of 100,000 Filipino civilians, and more.

Then, finally, he mentions the Japanese massacre of 5,000 Koreans.  As it is important, I will copy all of his words.

"I am personally aware of another event that has received no public notice, but demonstrates who the real racists-and butchers-were in that war.  The B-29 group I commanded was stationed on the island of Tinian during the war's final months.  Several years ago, some of our members went back to Tinian, and, at the invitation of the local government, dedicated a monument to the Americans who lost their lives flying from there.  It was a colorful ceremony.  But our people saw another monument on Tinian, placed by the Republic of Korea, to commemorate the 5,000 Korean civilians who had been taken to Tinian by the Japanese as slave labor, mostly to cut sugar cane.  Once it became obvious to the Japanese that the Americans were about to land on Tinian, they summarily executed the 5,000 Koreans, to prevent their ever helping Americans.
These are not nice stories, but are true and documented, and while it seems a shame to bring them up now that Japan is a Free World ally, they deserve re-telling so long as our brilliant young professors insist that we were the bad guys in that long-ago war."

What do you think of his words?

You know, he implicitly confesses that he did not know such massacre when he was stationed in Tinian for the last few months of the war!

The battle of Tinian was over in August 1944, and the New York Times article reported there were 2400 Koreans in Tinian in February 1945.  And Lt. Gen. Edmundson did not know the incident though he was there for the last few months of the war.  The number does not match.  There was no benefit for the Japanese Army when the enemy was about to come.

This is the source that Hilldenbrand presented for the Japanese massacre of 5,000 Koreans.  Lt. Gen. Edumundson did not visit the site by himself, or did not see the monument by himself.  He is simply telling the story that he heard from someone else.

Only with this source, Hillenbrand tries to give another label of brutality to the Japanese. Is her research fair and accurate? It can't be!  We don't accept this.

Tinian...five thousand...

I did a bit more research about this.  Then, I found the monument of Koreans with captions.  I found this on the site of Hotel called Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino.  It is the historic site guide page.

This is the monument for Korean casualties in the Marianas;

Caption says, "Korean monuments - These monuments were erected to honor Korean civilians, mostly laborers, killed during the battle of Tinian.  About 5,000 Koreans died in the Marianas during World War II."

You can find this monument on any other tourism site of Tinian.

It is very confusing, yes.  But, 5,000 Koreans died (not slaughtered by Japanese!) in the Marianas, not in Tinian only.  Probably Edmundson's fellow misunderstood, or Edmundson himself was confused, or distorted the story because he was outraged at that time.  But no massacre on Tinian.

Wikitravel of Tinian also says that the monument on Tinian is to commemorate 5,000 Koreans died in the Marianas.
"The exact figure is unknown, however, it is understood that approximately 5,000 Korean civilian laborers died in the Marianas during the Pacific War.  There is a small cluster monuments on the island placed there in their memory."

Plus, Japan and Korea never get along well after WWII.  Korea never fails to claim "apology and compensation" for any minor flaw by Japan.  For this matter, however, we have never heard such a request.
I searched by typing Tinian, island, and massacre in Hangul.  The results were all about aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Why Hillenbrand needed to insert this episode twice even though it is totally unrelated to Zamperini and the source was so unreliable.  Is this by her own intention?  Or did anyone ask her to do so?

The article of Lt. Gen. James V. Edmondsun (pp.5-6 of the Newsletter)


  1. Sorry but I think your patriotism may blind you to reality. I don't think any country is free of atrocities. As an American, I know my country's history is full of horrific events done in the name of patriotism or god. Unbroken has a good reason for mentioning the 5000 Koreans killed on Tinian. The Japanese military had a policy of 'kill-all' and the prisoners at Ofuna had good reason to fear for their lives. I'm horrified by what the Japanese military did and I'm horrified by what the American military has done too. Even as I'm horrified, I still cannot legitimize the atomic bombings.

    1. I have researched this supposed killing of these 5000 Koreans, its a lie. There were not even 5000 Koreans on Tinian ever, the number on Tinian was about 2800. Hillenbrand wrote this in her book without checking the source. I along with a US government researcher and freelance writer Michael Yon researched this Korean massacre and it simply is not the case...

  2. Mr. Shobara and Mr. Gavin both sound like reasonable men, and I'm glad to add my thoughts to their conversation. The Tinian example is useful because it is subject to confirmation and rational discussion. The Koreans who were sent there as forced laborers may have been worked too hard and fed too little, becoming susceptible to fatal illnesses, so they probably had a high mortality rate. Still, were some murdered as the Japanese withdrew under Allied pressure? And more ominously, the Koreans on Tinian and other Micronesian islands included hundreds if not thousands of "comfort women," who were probably young and healthy. Why did they die? Surely not natural deaths or combat casualties.
    The problem for Japanese to consider is why have they not delved into these questions for themselves? Why does it take an American writer to bring up the subject of mistreatment and murder of innocent people under Japanese control during the war?
    In the postwar period Germans have painstakingly gone over their behavior during World War II and have tried to learn the lessons of military over-reach. As I know from living 10 years in Japan, most Japanese have not faced these difficult questions with anything like the Germans' seriousness. All they want to remember is their atomic victimhood.

  3. doth protest too much, methinks

  4. I have found most people of Japan are afraid to face their past, the list of attrocities Japanese soldiers perpetrated against POW's and native peoples of many South Pacific island nations is a rather lengthy list. Another thing I find unusual is that Japanese people are embarrased over is the fact they lost WW2 to the Americans. The plain and simple facts are Japan during WW2 was an aggressive nation who conducted a war of terror and plunder throughout greater Asia. My grandfather was a Marine Corps veteran and fought against Japanese soldiers on the island of Guam and he told me he witnessed the bodies of nearly 3000 Guam natives who were executed by the Japanese, some were executed for trying to feed their families because the Japanese soldiers took all the food from them. My grandfather was there on Guam and told me what he saw. I myself lived in the Philippines during 2013 and talked with a few elderly Filipinos in my Filipina wife's hometown, some I talked with said they have fully forgiven Japan, others said they will never forgive the Japanese soldiers for the brutal cruelty. My wife's grandmother told me was raped as a young woman in Manila, and also had 2 friends who were taken away and she never saw them again, she never knew what happend to them. The Japanese soldiers killed 400 Filipino farmers in the Villiage of Lipa. This attrocity is also talked about in the book written by a Japanese soldier named Jintaro Ishida that he wrote after the war. Ishida wrote about other attrocities he witnessed while he was stationed in the Philippines during WW2 as a Japanese soldier.
    Until Japan recognizes the fact that their soldiers committed all these cruel acts against innocent peoples, the world will never let them move on. Japan MUST take responsibility and stop denying everything. The recent attempts at revisionism also must end. Trying to deny facts of history only makes Japan appear uncaring and having no remorse for causing so much death and suffering, just face it and own up to it and then people around the world will finally stop the accusations. Until then, Japan will be made to never forget what the rest of the knows....

  5. My grandfather was stationed on tenian. He would tell me stories about the Koreans that hid in the jungles and stole food at night. He said they would leave suppliesout in the evening. Eventually they were coaxed out and loaded up on a ship and that's the last he saw of them.

  6. My grandfather was stationed on tenian. He would tell me stories about the Koreans that hid in the jungles and stole food at night. He said they would leave suppliesout in the evening. Eventually they were coaxed out and loaded up on a ship and that's the last he saw of them.

  7. Laura Hillenbrand did not check her facts prior to her writing "Unbroken", I've done research into the Koreans on Tinian, there were never even 5000 Koreans on the island. There were about 2500-3000 taken there by the Japanese to work the sugar cane fields. Some Koreans were killed by the US pre-invasion bombardment and airstrikes, but no, the Japanese did not kill 5000 Koreans on Tinian...