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Tortured by the Japanese in WW2, a former POW met his tormentor 50 years later (abroadintheyard.com)
172 points by bryanwbh 1376 days ago | hide | past | web | 108 comments | favorite

There, he was locked in a 5ft cage that soon became full of red ants, mosquitoes and his own filth.


A towel was put over his mouth and nose. Then one of the guards picked up a long rubber hose, turned a faucet on full force, and directed the stream onto the towel. The water soaked through, blocking Lomax’s mouth and nose. He gagged and frantically gasped for breath as water filled his throat. His stomach began to swell. He was drowning on dry land. When the towel was finally removed and Lomax had recovered from his delirium, he still refused to confess and name his confederates. The water torture began once more.

Sounds horrible.

The memorandum describes in detail each of the techniques proposed as generally used, including attention grasp, walling, facial hold, insult slap, cramped confinement (large and small and with and without an insect), wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding.

The Bybee Memos, authored by the Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States and signed by Assistant Attorney General[1]. These techniques were used by the US on suspected terrorists.

I hate how the line between the good guys and the bad guys is so blurred I sometimes question if it exists at all.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bybee_Memo

> I hate how the line between the good guys and the bad guys is so blurred I sometimes question if it exists at all.

What? You still believe in Hollywood-style good guys and bad guys? Do you think that the Japanese believed then that they were the bad guys?

I am very surprised to see the good guy/bad guy mistake here. Everyone thinks they are the good guy, because everyone has reasons for what they do, otherwise they wouldn't do it. Even the nazis were exterminating Jews for the good of their country, or so they told themselves.

What? You still believe in Hollywood-style good guys and bad guys? Do you think that the Japanese believed then that they were the bad guys?

What a boring, predictable response, that missed the whole point.

Of course I don't believe in Hollywood-style good guys vs bad guys.

But I used to believe that the US saw themselves as "good" and that self-image acted as a self-imposed limiter on deliberate policies that the US would enact.

For example, one could argue that internment of people of Japanese background during WW2 was evil. However, there possibly is an argument that some of them may have had mixed loyalties, and that acted as justification.

One might also argue that incidents like the deliberate infection of native Americans with smallpox were evil, but they localized incidents, and not something that was endorsed at the highest levels of government.

I don't agree with either of these excuses, but I see that there is an argument one could make.

But to stoop as low as a policy of deliberate torture and pretend that is justified is beyond my understanding. I cannot see how anyone can truly believe in their justifications for that - except if they believe those that are being tortured are less than human.

I remember being slightly puzzled by a line in Cryptonomicon where the Colt 45 was described as being created to stop some particularly tough Philippine rebels - I remember wondering who they were rebelling against...

I found out recently (yesterday) that the US occupation of the Philippines in the Philippine–American War was particularly brutal - here is a clipping from the NY Time describing the "water cure":



Except that US didn't just intern US citizens of Japanese origin. They interned Aleutians as well. They also went up and down the continent collecting Japanese & German citizens of Latin American countries so that they could trade them for POWs. This led to problems after the war because Peru didn't want them back, and so they had to stay in the internment camps indefinitely. This continued on until an american citizen actually sued to have them be granted citizenship. They were in camps for over 3 years after the war had already ended.

The only reason any of these people were interred was racism, plain and simple. Farmers in California didn't want them owning the land.

Not the only reason, history is always more complex than we'd like it:


There is always justifications for racism. 3 people helping someone out before the U.S had even declared war on Japan doesn't really seem like a very good reason to intern native americans, does it?

Hindsight is always 20/20.

Yes, I'm able to say in perfect safety 70 years after the fact that it was a mistake. If I had been alive and asked on Dec 10, 1941 the same question, I doubt I'd give the same answer.

I understand where you're coming from, and I think that a lot of people would(and do) agree with you. But it's the same as standing up now and saying that the NSA spying on ordinary citizens is wrong. If it's wrong, it should be wrong, and nothing can justify it.

Ok, but the original question was not whether it was wrong, but rather was it "the only reason". Didn't mean to imply it was ever right.

> One might also argue that incidents like the deliberate infection of native Americans with smallpox were evil, but they localized incidents, and not something that was endorsed at the highest levels of government.

This is more myth than fact, and also predated the US by decades:


I agree completely. There's a great set of posts on lesswrong about that.


"Realistically, most people don't construct their life stories with themselves as the villains. Everyone is the hero of their own story."

> You still believe in Hollywood-style good guys and bad guys?

Not all beliefs in good guys and bad guys are hollywood-style.

> Do you think that the Japanese believed then that they were the bad guys?

No, but I do think they were among the bad guys.

If everyone says "I'm not racist", you probably don't say "oh good, that's okay then" and decide racists don't exist.

I'm not saying there are no bad traits, I'm saying there are no people/groups/nations that are all-bad and others that are all-good. Someone being racist doesn't mean they are evil, just like someone not being racist doesn't mean they are holy. "Good guys" and "bad guys" implies moral absolutes.

Absolutes or otherwise, it's hard to conceive of torture as a 'good' thing, ever. And no, I don't believe in the mythical situation where torture reveals the disarm code for a ticking time bomb. Even if it could, there are more effective means of interrogation.

The mythical ticking timebomb situation is a nice twist on the philosophy discussion around the observer and runaway train.

From memory it goes something like this:

You're in a cabin with the track-switching equipment beside a railway. You can see in the distance a group of 5 people walking along the track. In the other direction you can see an out of control train. You can switch the tracks so the train will be diverted onto another track, avoiding the people and averting a catastrophe.

Most people switch the track.

But now you introduce a single person on the alternative track. If you do nothing 5 people will die. But if you switch tracks one person will die.

People find this a bit harder to think a out, and are hesitant to say that they'd switch the track.

It seems that if the single person is a TERRORIST that many people would switch the track. They might even switch the track if the single person was a taxi driver that someone else had said was a TERRORIST. They might even switch the track if the single person was an innocent relative of a supposed TERRORIST.

I think "ticking time bomb" analogies break down here, because the US made a deliberate policy decision at the highest levels to torture.

To me, the analogy is more like this:

You are mayor of a town. There might be a ticking timebomb in a school somewhere in your town. Watches tell the time and are similar to what is used in timebombs.

Should you (a) torture everyone who looks at a watch, because they might know about a timebomb that might exist, or (b) NOT TORTURE PEOPLE.

To me there is zero justification for deciding (a) in that scenario.

Make it smarter: Would it make the decision harder if the single person was young Alexander Fleming and the other five just coal miners?

Would you believe me if I told you that Alexander Fleming's grandfather actually was a coal miner?

It would not surprise me, that's for sure.

But that's my point: 1 man who would find a cure for millions or 5 who could potentially change the world (themselves or their kids)...

I would change the track, and do everything within my power to take the person's place in that track, so that I may give up my life so that one person may live.

In the same way, the Father made an incalculable cost in giving up his only begotten son, so that no man shall suffer the second death, but experience eternal life.

Doesn't even have to be "terrorist". Can be "Muslim".


I realised that my morals weren't as quite a strong as I thought they were when I read of the Frankfurt Torture Case - where the police threatened to torture a kidnapper (without any intention of doing anything) in order to get the location of the kidnapped child, who they thought was still alive.


I realised myself that although I abhor torture, if it was my child (or indeed any child) I would probably do anything to get the kidnapper to talk.

Sometimes. Sometimes there actually isn't a more effective means of interrogation (for ex., when you're pressed for time). What do you do in these rare situations, like in the incident about the kidnapped girl below? If it comes down to it, you do resort to torture, as a very, very last option, and then you do the right thing: you deal with it, assume full responsibility for the act, and submit yourself to the justice system so they can decide wether the torture was warranted. If it was my kid, I would have done it, and then comply 100% when the law questioned me about it.

Do you think that those you think of as "good guys" never tortured anyone? Because they probably did. That makes everyone bad guys, so the distinction of "good guys" and "bad guys" is meaningless.

I don't think of those who torture as "good guys" to begin with.

> the distinction of "good guys" and "bad guys" is meaningless

I agree that if you assume 'good guy' is an absolute, and any deviation from that one true path is 'bad guy', then everyone is a 'bad guy'. Then the terms becomes meaningless. But I consider these relative terms. For all its faults, the US is still closer to the 'good guy' than 'bad guy' side of the spectrum in most areas. North Korea is closer to the 'bad guy' than the 'good guy' side.

I'm more inclined to think of a country like Sweden or Norway as the good guys. I agree about North Korea, but torture, indefinite detention without a trial, Guantanamo, etc are not traits of someone I'd consider a good guy.

> I'm saying there are no people/groups/nations that are all-bad and others that are all-good.

Do you think the person you were replying to would disagree with this? (I agree with it.) It seems more likely to me that they just weren't using the words "good guys" and "bad guys" in the ways you interpreted them.

I think he was using the words "good guys" and "bad guys" as synonyms to "us" and "them" respectively, I'm just pointing out that they would probably be reversed if he were on the other side.

I am from neither the US or Japan, nor do I follow Islam.

So, no: "good guys" and "bad guys" were not meant as synonyms for "us" and "them" (unless you mean "us"="USA").

What's really interesting is other countries could do this to US citizens who are arrested/detained/imprisoned and there is no way the US could argue they are being tortured. Because we have clearly declared it is not torture and never prosecuted those doing it or those ordering it.

Remember this the next time you travel overseas. I guess we should hope local police forces don't decide this is acceptable behavior.

The guy who invented/instated these techniques is going around on a book tour now on all the news-tainment channels declaring how he did nothing wrong.

Could you give a link to that? I'd like it for reference.

Just google John Rizzo, for his book tour the past week.

I should clarify he was the CIA top attorney who decided all waterboaring was perfectly legal and justified and still defends it in interviews to this day.

He and John Yoo should be tried for war crimes as well as those that gave and followed the orders. If we don't prosecute them, that makes it perfectly justified for other countries to do this to US citizens and declare it is not torture because the US insists it is not.

When I read what is allowed and what is not, it boggles my mind. I attempt to try and see how they see the world, I can but I cannot accept it. I am not sure if they would go further but stop because of why? Or that they truly think what they have codified is right?

If I could bring back Donahue, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Donahue I think it would make an interesting discussion. Have all of the audience screened for what ever security clearance they need to witness an interrogation. The interrogation itself is on a 1 minute delay, incase they actually divulge something.

We get to see the audience witness an interrogation, 4k, HD whatever. They aren't in the same room, the interrogator doesn't know a thing.

Then the audience gets to ask John Rizzo and John Yoo why this is legal.

I can only imagine the outpouring of a Catholic housewife from Ohio ripping them a new asshole.

> Sounds horrible.

Reminder: It's been around 1800 days since Sean Hannity insisted that water-boarding wasn't torture and promised to be water-boarded for charity.


I don't think the line is blurred at all.

People who torture are bad guys. It doesn't matter if they torture us or they torture others on our behalf. They are the bad guys.

what about a torturer extracting information about a bomb placed in a school?

Thus philosophical debate has been going on for ages, like the medical advances made by horrific means by the nazis, or whether it's even ethical to listen to Wagner. Does good that comes from evil ever justify the evil? We wont solve that now or anytime, it's much the same debate as the one for the death penalty, because that's been shown time and time that it has no deterrent effect.

> what about a torturer extracting information about a bomb placed in a school?

What about someone divining the information about the bomb from the entrails of puppies?

Why prefer one horrendous and inexact method over another?

((though maybe if the information was actually inside one of the puppies they'd do it because it's "just a puppy", whose lives are arguably less valuable than schoolchildren))

What if the information is engraved on someone's pacemaker? What if you know that the information is maybe perhaps possibly wrong?

If you think these scenarios are unlikely, FYI so is the "torturing to extract information about a bomb in a school" scenario.

What if you take into account the person you proposed should be tortured, most probably hasn't been formally found guilty?

What if you take into account that even if you think you're pretty sure, innocent people are sometimes found guilty (and even put to death)?

What if you take into account that this course of action means that you are now living in a society where torture is considered legitimate in a police investigation? Meaning that it will be used more often, and therefore with growing certainty at some point applied to innocent people (just like happens in places that still support the death penalty). How big of a school does it need to be, for you, to justify that? Including the part where you take into account that you can't be sure whether you will obtain any correct information at all.

It has been proven multiple times throughout history that torture is completely ineffective in extracting information. Claiming that torture has any sort of positive benefit both alarming and sad. Alarming because this is exactly what the US government wants its populous to think (torturing terrorist in Guantanamo!) Sad because it's saying that some people deserve to be treated like animals, missing the irony that it requires a savage animal to treat others like animals.

Is it morally obligatory to skullfuck a prisoner if that is the only way to prevent a bomb from exploding a school?

(To flesh out the scenario, you receive a call from a terrorist. He assures you that he has placed bombs in two schools. To prove it, he blows up one school. He demands that you cut out prisoner 54325's left eyeball, and perform the sexual act upon the empty eye-socket to orgasm, on video. If you do not, he will blow up the second school.)

This scenario is exactly as unlikely as the GP's.

I don't know why you are getting downvoted, it's a perfectly valid point.

There are cases where there'd be a choice between acting ethically towards one person or saving a live of another. The dissonance is further amplified when there's more than one life at stake.

GP, just pretend your kid was kidnapped and be dead in 24 hours if you don't find him. Now, say, you have an unrestricted access to the kidnapper who knows where your child is.

The problem is false confessions. People have even confessed to be a witch and get burned, to stop torture.

Just pretend your kid was kidnapped and be dead in 24 hours if you don't find him. Now, say, you have an unrestricted access to someone that is accused of being the kidnapper. (By the way, he was accused by the former boyfriend of his daughter, because he didn’t like the relationship.) Now, you are lucky , and you get unrestricted access to a new suspect. (By the way, he is a moron the police incriminate because they must show some result to the press before the 11 news report.)

> GP, just pretend your kid was kidnapped and be dead in 24 hours if you don't find him. Now, say, you have an unrestricted access to the kidnapper who knows where your child is.

This is why we disapprove of vigilante justice. Because it can make any course of action seem like a good idea, given that you are sufficiently emotionally involved.

The problem with that scenario is that it's not effective. The violence of it could only be justified were it effective at producing true information which could stop a bomb threat.

You should pick an example like "Well, if we torture the rival lord in to giving a false confession that he committed a crime, we can stabilize the political landscape of the kingdom."

You know, something torture is actualy good at.

War is an evil and terrible thing, period.

The true bad people are the fat and comfortable leaders and agitators at home who send men to war.

i came here guessing the the top post would tie the story back to recent US torture. not that it's wrong, just unfortunately predictable :/

My brother and sister walked 325km from Ban Pong to Sangkhla Buri along what exists of this very railway. It was in memory of a POW my brother met at our church who worked on the railway during his time in the war.

My sister wrote a book about the experience called Norn Lup? A Journey Of Railways, Roads, & Wats. http://intrepid-girl.com/blog/writing/buy-the-book-norn-lup-...

And my brother made a documentary http://www.lukenowell.com/projects/lukenowell/thailandtrek/

Hope people don't mind these plugs but they both add value to the story behind this railway and the people who worked on it against their will.

You can read about their expedition here http://www.deathrailwaywalk.com/

Maybe Murnat Kurnaz can come back to America in 50 years and make friends with his former torturers, too. And then a movie.


Interesting story. The ingenuity prisoners display is often remarkable. Of course, this goes pretty much against the current mood in Japanese politics (or at least what I, as a foreigner living abroad, reads about), which goes more along the lines of "our brave soldiers never did anything wrong when they were expanding the Co-Prosperity Sphere".

Are American politics any different, when "liberating" Iraq?

Two wrongs don't make a right. And what does America have to do with this anyway? The protagonaists were British and Japanese.

My point was that most countries' politicians will support their atrocities, and that it's not a phenomenon specific to the Japanese.

No, but Germany, for instance, isn't trying to whitewash history in its schoolbooks.

I hope in 50 years (if we are still around), that the American people and the American Government show a similar level of maturity.

You did not bother to elucidate the point that you claim you were making. Instead providing just a single supporting example to illustrate an argument to generality. Even if we allow that "most countries' politicians" is supported by that single example and that the example is apt, your position on Japanese / US behaviour is only implied. I read it as "it's OK for [smaller country] as long as [bigger country] does it." My interpretation might well be wrong, but you could certainly do better in saying what you mean.

My response is about your comment and not the topic.

I am going to use your response as a template to use for the rest of my life. It's perfect. Thank you in advance for the time and trouble you have saved me.

My grandfather was POW at Changi for four years. He saw many of his friends die; many tragically just after the war when they rashly ate too much of the wrong thing. During his captivity his family didn't know whether he was dead or alive. He never knowingly bought a Japanese product. He never spoke about his experience much.

I'd like to think things would have been a lot better had he had the opportunity to meet some genuinely apologetic Japanese.

What do you mean by "ate too much of the wrong thing"?

After a period of malnutrition, you need to start taking small amounts of relatively low-calorie food and building up from there. It is a well-known phenomenon that eating too much calorie-packed food can be fatal. In his book The Forgotten Highlander, Alistair Urquhart records the same thing happening on the ship which transported former POWs home.

Oh wow, that is tragic. I was aware that, after being starved, you shouldn't gorge yourself, but I didn't know you could die from eating even normal portions... Thank you.

Big problem during wars. Much of my grandfather's Chinese army group in WWII died outside of fighting from this.

That explains a lot, thank you.

If you want to reflect on something truly heinous bear in mind that during torture sessions these days it is customary to have a doctor on hand to ensure that the victim is not actually killed. The objective is to inflict ongoing pain and killing would defeat the objective. So a doctor of all things witnesses the process and keeps the victim alive so he/she can be tortured more. Apparently you can get any professional to do anything no matter how wildly those actions may seem to be to the most fundamental values of their profession and the oath they swear to practice it.

Citations for this?

We dont seem to be so generous to Nazi torturers and murderers. They are still being hunted down apparently.

It seems most of them don't show any kind of remorse and instead insist they had been doing the right thing all along.

For example, Erich Priebke, who died last year, aged 100, always declared he was only "obeying orders" in setting up the massacre of 335 people (including children). Not only that, but his own son has always defended him and his actions.

This kind of attitude doesn't help much with forgiveness.


Not defending Erich in any way, but the "obeying orders" excuse has been used by US Soldiers in Iraq (among other stories regarding previous wars in history and involving other countries' soldiers). Do you think they should be executed? The Nazi's were one of the first instances of prosecution for soldiers who were following orders when committing war crimes (in the case of concentration camps the scale may be the marker) so it is an interesting question.

Seriously asking and not trying to be inflammatory. It is seriously just an interesting concern of where "following orders" stops being a valid excuse. For instance should drone operators controlling, attacks that kill a whole wedding convoy, be prosecuted for following orders? Weird world we live in.

Again not defending Erich Priebke just a jumping off point for interesting discussion.

Edit: Fix spelling

> Do you think they should be executed?

Yes. Not "executed", and not every soldier in every war; but torturers who hide behind orders should absolutely be brought to justice.

Of course, if their country as a whole decides torture is suddenly ok, or even cool (see most recent TV shows), then that won't happen.

The fact that it won't happen in the case of the US doesn't excuse the Nazis... or anyone, really.

I tend to agree. I really think there are two metrics. Genuine remorse and the ability to concede that the actions were wrong or misguided.

I find it dismaying that currently our culture (most of the world, not just US) seems to have gone backwards in terms of recognizing torture/misguided killing/execution as a serious issue. There really is no excuse for such behavior, although happens in times of conflict, it should be accounted for at some point.

The ability of a country or people to recognize the wrongs of their past and move forward, rather than denying that they were wrong, seems an important thing.

Priebke is quite a unique example. Most nazi's who took part in such behaviors had other options: for example , many could have chosen not to be part of the "death squads". This might mean they would advance less in the ranks and might become regular wwii soldiers which isn't the best life.

Priebke got hit orders from hitler. Altought there are a few who disobeyed a direct order from hitler and lived to tell about it, Priebke, in his a circumstances would have probably been executed.

I don't see how that one single example can be counted as evidence that German who participated in war crimes were less apologetic than Japanese.

It is an interesting comparison. I wonder if it's because of the sheer numbers that died in the camps or the power of the jewish lobby post world war II.

> I wonder if it's because of the sheer numbers that died in the camps or the power of the jewish lobby post world war II.

I think it's both, though the Jewish community has indeed been very vocal in popularizing the Nazi atrocities and establishing the term "Holocaust" to mean specifically the genocide of Jews in WW2. It is a crime to deny it in many countries.

It may seem as if the Jews were the focal point of the Nazi Aryan doctrine, however, the other sub-humans on the bottom of the racial ladder were the Slavic people and people of color. Russian death toll in the WW2 was more than 20 million people. Although, I never heard of the "Russian Holocaust".

>It is a crime to deny it in many countries.

This somewhat pisses on my battery. It makes me generally less sympathetic. Imagine if it was a "crime" to deny evolution. Even though I don't get the fundamentalist nut jobs and their creationist bullshit, it's absolutely unnecessary to make debate on a subject a "crime". It coveys a sense of weakness and bigotry.

> were the Slavic people and people of color.

... and the artists, and the gays and the communists and the ...

...gypsies. About one quarter of them died in WWII. But hey, who gives a crap about gypsies? To this day, nobody seems to give a dammn.

"It is not known precisely how many Roma were killed in the Holocaust. While exact figures or percentages cannot be ascertained, historians estimate that the Germans and their allies killed around 25 percent of all European Roma."

Source: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005219

Don't forget that Nagase was "just" a translator.

Translates pain into prose.

I cannot begin to understand how a person can be subjected to that much pain/torture and yet still remain defiant. It is unimaginable to me.

Perhaps he was angry at his captors.

Or convinced he was doing the right thing and that resistance was worth it according to his value system.

I can't say, otherwise, never been tortured.

Totally agree.

It's an impressive story and hard for anybody of us to even imagine in this day and age.

These days I live in Bangkok and have been fortunate enough to take the train that rides over the track these POW have made. It was a very humbling experience. Especially the parts where the train drives through rocky areas where the walls have all been cut by human force, no explosives have been used. It takes a whole day to drive the track which is among the parts that make it so hard to believe it has all been made by hand and that so many people have died while making it.

See also: http://www.seat61.com/Bridge-on-the-River-Kwai.htm

If you ever get a chance to visit, then I can highly recommend it.

Unfortunately looking at what these POW achieved is one of the few things we can do to honor those who suffered there.

> It's an impressive story and hard for anybody of us to even imagine in this day and age.

The torture part is very easy to imagine, in this day and age, unfortunately.

Something tells me there will be no meeting 50 years after the torture in US secret prisons -- especially none with any insight into the wrongness of it.

Extraordinary story. This reminds me somewhat of a 1955 reunion[1] of Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, and a survivor of the Hiroshima bomb in an episode of "This is your life". I can't say the whole show is tasteful but I found the meeting incredibly emotional to watch.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0m8D6APp64

Server seems to be buckling under the load, but archive.org has a copy: https://web.archive.org/web/20131027021454/http://www.abroad...

I find it strange that if Mr. Nagase had been a rather indifferent PoW camp "administrator" who did not actively participate in torturing him, the late Mr. Lomax would likely feel no great urge to meet him and make friends with him. I' ve read that a kind of bond is almost always formed between the tortured and the torturer. Something for psychologists to explore I guess.

Isn't that a form of Stockholm syndrome?

Perhaps, in a broader sense. One particular account I've read in a autobiographical book by a person who fought in a distant civil war and had been on both sides of the table, so to speak, recalls how he felt the same kind of bonding - "closeness" as he puts it - both with the people who tortured him and those who he, himself, tortured.

I am certainly touched by this. I'd forgive a guy like that and many other Japanese who admit to their horrific acts. I don't like generalization such as saying I forgive Japan, nor would I say Japanese are monsters. So long the stubborn politicians still exist, there will always be sting on Japan's reputation as a country.

do yourselves a favor and don't read the comments on the site

The title originally may have contained a racial epithet, based on one of the trackbacks; although I'm not sure (the trackback author may have changed the title)

The comments are internet cancer.

Jesus that's bad. Like, I've seen terrible comments, but that really takes the (racist, bigoted) cake.

I keep finding rumors the movie will be released in the US in a few months, but nothing concrete.


It has been advertised on the London underground here for a few weeks now with a January release date.

As far as films go, the plot is almost identical to Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085933/?ref_=nv_sr_4

One of the most astonishing books I've ever read is Unbroken, which is the true story of an American pilot (and Olympic athlete) who went through a similar experience as a POW of the Japanese. Well worth checking out.

So assassinating ex-Nazi torturers is kosher but not ex-Imperial Japan Army torturers, coercing Korean women as sex slaves for the Japanese army, massacring an entire Chinese city, conducting live human experiments with germs and chemicals?

If you read into the "comfort women" thing a lot of it turns out to be dodgy. The imperial army bought into and regulated existing prostitution rackets. (The US Army effectively did this, too.) After the war a lot of hookers suddenly became sex slaves to the evil Japanese.

You have to keep in mind that even before the war in parts of Asia this was an era where a poor farmer might sell a daughter to pimps. This is stuff that was happening whether the imperial army was involved or not.

Never mind the testimonials from the victims themselves. Never mind the fact that Japanese politicians go out of their way to deny what went down.

doesn't make it any less illegitimate and immoral. Oh, and it wasn't just Asian women, they enslaved European women too which made some part of the "Comfort Brigade". Surely, Dutch women weren't being pimped out by their own mothers? So this, "but everyone was doing it" from the mouths of the perpetrating nation themselves is claim which is dodgy in itself and and a lame excuse to cover up a war crime and crime against humanity and women. Your argument would be like saying it's somehow joie de vivre of the times, no, no other army conscripted armies of sex slaves to keep the morale of their troops in a losing battle against Allied forces.

Do you want to deny the holocaust too because "people just didn't know better back then", "scapegoating and suppressing and massacring minority population cuz thats what dictators do" so the fact that it happened is now questionable? Never mind the victims of holocaust themselves voicing their horrible experiences?

I can't believe I'm hearing garbage like this, out of all places, on hacker news.

I absolutely do discount victim testimonials. Especially when there's money at stake. I mean, after the holocaust, and to this very day, some jews claimed people were processed into soap and leather products. This and many other claims by victims throughout history have been nonsense.

There are existing Japanese military documents on the subject... Writings of Japanese officers admitting to it and publicly asking for forgiveness. Yeah. Money at stake huh?

so on the basis that there exists victim testimonials that seem implausible, you are going to deny that the holocaust occurred and ignore any other evidence to the contrary?

I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but there is overwhelming evidence for the Japanese use of sex slaves in their army. Its not all based on victim testimony.

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