Once We Had Leaders: Pearl Harbor Edition

Now we have Biden and Justin. (See below.)

On this 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, I think back to my time in Japan. There was so much I loved and a few things I didn’t like all that much. One of the latter was the belief of many of my students (Japanese adults) that not only were they (Japanese people) merely victims – not perpetrators – of the war, but that they were the war’s primary victims. Of course, some of them were victims, but they did not see their country as being in the wrong, or as being an aggressor, or as having been the driving force behind the laying waste to at least one continent.

There was much we could not discuss with them – it was not verboten, but it wasn’t worth the tension it caused and it potentially could have given us grief with our bosses, both Japanese and Canadian. The Japanese didn’t seem to have achieved German levels of ownership on the matter. (A post on the Japanese surrender here.) Why discuss such things? Good question, and for the most part I tried to avoid it, but adults love talking politics and, of course, on certain anniversaries it would be a natural topic. This was in the 1990s, but I have friends still in Japan who say it remains a touchy matter.