Jan 10, 2022
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How the idea was born to use Japanese prisoners of war to restore the economy of the USSR

Yeltsin did not know that Americans never apologized for the incineration of Hiroshima

In Japan, with some delay, they reacted to the publication of the FSB of Russia of documents on the criminal acts of the Japanese military during the Second World War, in particular, on the development and use of bacteriological weapons prohibited by international agreements and preparation for an attack on the Soviet Union.

One of the country’s central newspapers, Tokyo Shimbun, published an article by its correspondent Yushi Koyanagi, entitled “Russia distances itself from the unfavorable history and accuses the Japanese army of war crimes. The victorious USSR is justice itself, and the losing Japan is evil “

The article argues that in recent years Russia has begun to distance itself from its “negative history.” “In accordance with the desire of Russian President Vladimir Putin to raise the patriotic sentiment of the people, there is a tendency to oversimplify the perception of the USSR as a victorious people and the defeated countries as evil. In August this [2020] years, documents were published on Japan’s preparation for war against the USSR and the development of bacteriological weapons by the Kwantung Army. And in September, a scientific conference was held in Khabarovsk, at which the significance of the military tribunal over the Japanese military in 1949 was discussed. Speaking at the conference, President Putin rebuked Japan, noting that attempts to distort the history of the war must be opposed by facts and documents. “, – the author of the article makes claims to our country.

Unable to oppose anything previously published in Russia with classified materials and research by Russian scientists, Koyanagi and the newspaper’s editors are trying to accuse the USSR, and now Russia, of silence “Problems of Japanese internees”held after the surrender of militarist Japan in Soviet prisoner of war camps. “Recently, Russia has released exclusively historical documents related to the Japanese invasion of Asia, and some Japanese researchers say that documents related to the internment in Siberia are no longer being published.”, Says the Tokyo Shimbun.

This formulation of the question is not new in Japan. The “prisoner of war problem” has long been, along with the far-fetched “problem of the northern territories” – claims to the Russian Kuril Islands, included in the propaganda clip of anti-Soviet and now anti-Russian propaganda. At the same time, one can come across complaints that this problem is not being given due attention, although the former President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin publicly repented for the “inhuman policy of Stalin.”

The author of these lines has already explained how things really were with the use of the labor of Japanese prisoners of war to restore the war-ravaged Soviet economy, which is Japan’s no small fault, but apparently there is a need to return to the facts of history.

In the Land of the Rising Sun, a version has been introduced into the minds, according to which the entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan is presented not as the fulfillment of allied obligations, but as “A treacherous act, violation of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, concluded in April 1941”… At the same time, accusations of “illegal internment” of soldiers and officers of the Japanese Kwantung Army (army group) defeated by Soviet troops in August 1945 are voiced against the USSR. This version is included in the texts of school textbooks, the authors of which set the goal of the youth in the fact that militaristic Japan was not an aggressor during the war years, but a “liberator” and “civilizer” of Asian peoples.

The very concept of “internment” was introduced into circulation in order to represent the Japanese military personnel not as prisoners of war, but as people who were forced to lay down their arms, obeying the orders of the emperor. But internment in international law is the compulsory detention by one belligerent state of citizens (and not military personnel) of another belligerent state or by a neutral state – military personnel of the belligerent parties.

One example of internment is the detention by the Soviet authorities of the crews of American bombers that made forced landings on the territory of the Soviet Union during the Second World War. After all, the United States was an ally of the USSR; the status of American pilots was, in that case, a legal formality appropriate in the current situation. Naturally, they were quickly transported home.

As for the Japanese military personnel, after the official announcement by the government of the Soviet Union on August 8, 1945, the war against Japan was “Persons belonging to the armed forces of the belligerent”, were captured with weapons in their hands, and therefore at the end of hostilities, in accordance with international law, they were not interned, but prisoners of war.

Defending the “internment” theory, Yasuzo Aoki, executive chairman of the so-called All Japan Association of Forcibly Interned, stated: “It would be more correct to call us not prisoners, but internees, because we were going to Siberia temporarily! We worked there for free and now we would like to receive payment for our labor. “… That is, we are talking about the fact that the soldiers of the surrendered Kwantung grouping were equated with Soviet civilians forcibly driven to Nazi Germany for forced labor. It is very difficult to accept such “logic”.

Nevertheless, the Russian authorities in the 1990s, in fact, tended to accept the Japanese version of the fate of the prisoners of war. Before his visit to Japan in November 1993, Boris Yeltsin said: “For us Russians, Stalin’s crimes are a huge black pit into which the whole history was dumped. Siberian camps … the Japanese are going through almost as hard as the tragedy of Hiroshima. The Americans have long since apologized to the Japanese. However, we did not do this … “

When Yeltsin then made an “official apology” with tears to Tokyo for keeping Japanese prisoners of war in labor camps, Yeltsin did not know that the US government had never apologized to Japan for the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And he did not know that the idea of ​​using the labor of prisoners of war to restore the Soviet economy destroyed by the war did not belong to Stalin, but to the inner circle of the Japanese emperor.

In an effort to prevent the USSR from entering the war on the side of the United States and Great Britain, the Japanese leadership in the summer of 1945 decided to send Prince Fumimaro Konoe to Moscow as a special envoy of the emperor. By this time, a plan had been developed in Japan, according to which, if the Soviet Union retained its neutrality, it was supposed to “voluntarily” return to the USSR the South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands that had previously been torn away from Russia.

Before the trip, Konoe and his adviser Lieutenant General Koji Sakai drew up a document: “Principles for Conducting Peace Negotiations.” The document set out a list of concessions that Japan could make in exchange for Moscow’s promise not to enter the war. There was such a point in this document: “We will demobilize the armed forces stationed abroad and take measures to return them to their homeland. If this is not possible, we will agree to leave the personnel in the places of their present stay “… This provided for: “Labor can be offered as reparations”… It can be assumed that this proposal was brought to the attention of the USSR government and taken into account when deciding on the use of the labor of Japanese prisoners of war on Soviet territory.

American researcher, author of the book “Hirohito and the Creation of Modern Japan” Herbert Bix points out directly: “The idea to intern Japanese prisoners of war for the use of their labor in the restoration of the Soviet economy (implemented in practice in Siberian camps) arose not in Moscow, but among the closest circle of the emperor.”

Those who continue to resent the use of the labor of Japanese prisoners of war on Soviet territory can be reminded of the 700,000 Koreans who were forcibly taken out as slaves for heavy work in military factories, mines and mines. But these were by no means the military, but the civilians of Korea. The problem of thousands of “comfort women”, or “sex slaves,” as they called young girls and underage girls from occupied countries, who were forcibly forced to “serve” Japanese soldiers in soldier’s brothels, has not yet been resolved.

The demands for a “settlement of the problem of Japanese prisoners of war”, which in the 90s were advocated by Russian lobbyists for the interests of the Internees Association, also looked absurd. After all, all questions about prisoners of war 65 years ago were resolved in the Joint Soviet-Japanese Declaration of 1956, which restored peaceful relations between the two states. Article 6 of the declaration reads: “The USSR and Japan mutually renounce all claims, respectively, from their state, its organizations and citizens, which have arisen as a result of the war since August 9, 1945”

When concluding an agreement to end the state of war, the Soviet government voluntarily renounced all reparations and material claims against Japan. This deprives the Japanese of legal and moral grounds to demand any kind of “compensation” from our country and, in general, to make claims about the “prisoner of war problem” that is being pulled out again.

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