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:: Tuesday, July 31, 2007 ::

On A Key Principle Pertaining to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Incidents From 1945:

The purpose of this posting is to clarify a point which I have noticed gets overlooked constantly and which I am tired of having to correct; ergo this posting is the last time I intend to do so.

First of all, there is a mistake when discussing the subject of warfare with classifying people simply as "military" and "civilian." I will admit to having done this at times in the past but I also did so under the assumption that people would properly understand the murky nature of how these categories really existed in wartime Japan. However, since this has not happened as I had hoped, it seems appropriate in lieu of a recent dialogue challenge on the subject in question to tend to this key point; ergo the reason for the post you are now reading.

There is not in many circumstances the fine line in this area that people may like. For example, there is the talk about the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as "civilians" when in fact most of them were conscripted{1} and thus properly recognized as "military." But even with those who were not conscripted, does that make them immediately a "civilian" which by its very usage implies non-combatant status??? For those who are familiar with the situation of wartime Japan, the answer to this obviously is no.

Indeed I use and have used the following principle as an acid test of sorts to know if a person I am discussing these matters with should or should not be taken seriously:

--Is a little child with bombs strapped to it who is instructed by their parents to walk up to a soldier and detonate the bomb a "civilian"??? How about if they are trained to roll under and try and blow up a tank???{2}

The brief answer to these questions is "no", the long answer to them is "hell no." The proper distinction to be made here is not "military" and "civilian" but "combatant" and "non-combatant." And the examples above as well as others which could be noted{3} coalesce to paint a reality about the situation there which the overwhelming majority of commentators on this subject do not get.

It is one thing to miss the above distinctions because they are often not brought out when this subject is discussed. It is another however when they are pointed out to default back to a mentality that acts as if this is not an important factor in the entire moral and ethical matrix on this issue as not a few have done in my presence. As far as I am concerned, those who are corrected on the matter and continue to not acknowledge that variable in the overall equation, they are immediately disqualified on the matter in question.


{1} All males aged fifteen to sixty, and all females ages seventeen to forty-five, had been conscripted. Their weapons included ancient bronze cannon, muzzle loaded muskets, bamboo spears, and bows and arrows. Even little children had been trained to strap explosives around their waists, roll under tank treads, and blow themselves up. They were called “Sherman’s carpets.”

This was the enemy the Pentagon had learned to fear and hate –a country of fanatics dedicated to hara-kiri, determined to slay as many invaders as possible as they went down fighting. [William Manchester: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 510-511) as quoted in a Rerum Novarum posting (circa September6, 2005)]

{2} See footnote one.

{3} See this link which was appended to a footnote in my August 17, 2005 posting on Hiroshima. (It is in footnote six and reviewing my accompanying commentary on it for the context in which it was used would also be advised.)

:: Shawn 8:35 PM [+] ::


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