The East Vs. The West: Racism Essay, Research Paper
The East Vs. The West: Racism
The Asia/Pacific War proved to be a war that went far beyond that of defending the ideals of humanity or even trying to suppress or augment ones power by means of territory. This definitive outbreak and ongoing military rampage dove to the most critical and hateful ideals of our time: racism. Beliefs discerning the fundamental differences between the ?East? vs. the ?West? fueled a time and place of misconceptions, blind followings and mass race hatred. The stereotypes developed from the study of the respective histories of the other were only augmented by the immense propaganda war that was waged. This mass serge of propaganda resulted in raising racial hatred among not only those fighting the war, but the civilian population as well. The eruption that would ensue, as well as the subsequent inflation of racial hate, produced one of the most brutal wars in history that would result in a political conclusion, but neglect the racial tones are still prevalent today.
Ever since the early years of Japanese history, the Japanese always felt it necessary to distinguish themselves from other states in Asia- especially with China. Although Japan constantly borrowed many aspects of their culture and ideals from China, time and again the leaders would defend the belief that Japan was both independent and able, as well as ready for the subsequent responsibilities of holding that stance of individuality. During the years following the conquering of both China and Russia, Japan?s racial superiority over the other Asians became a fundamental base for the upcoming practices during the Asia/Pacific war. In the book entitled War Without Mercy, the Japanese ?invaded colonial outposts [whom] the Westerners had dominated for generations, taking absolutely for granted their racial and cultural superiority over their Asian subjects.? (pg.5). Thus the Japanese took it upon themselves to be the prominent power in the East during this time. This racial superiority complex though would be extended to n even higher plain- superiority of the world.
In order to nationalize Japan into one smooth mechanism, the Japanese elite would rely upon the teaching of having ?one blood? and thus one country descended from the divine lineage of the Sun-Goddess Amaterasu. From this divine lineage, the subjects of Japan supposedly bore a part of the Imperial jewel in their body. This ideal would prove to bring Japan even closer in their seemingly mutual nationalistic cause. It was believed that 100,000,000 people had this jewel and it was the responsibility of the people to help expand this number across to the eight corners of the world (Hakko Ichiu). In the words of President Roosevelt, the completion of nationalizing Japan as well as extending this reach outward would result in ?1,100,000,000 potential enemies? (page 7).
The Japanese knew that it would take the alliance of every ?Asiatic? country to complete this war against the West. Japan therefore created the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Spear that ultimately put all of Asia under the control of Japanese. Once this was done and policies that cried out for the expulsion of the barbarians were put into full force, the Japanese- as well as the West- were ready for the real war: the Orient vs. the Occident.
On both sides, conceptions of the ?other? were distorted because of outrageous propaganda campaigns on the home front. Countless cartoons were being drawn up on a daily basis describing the enemy in terms that would result in furthering race hate. In Japan, the pictures showed Americans as demons and monsters, where in the United States, Japan was being portrayed as gutless monkeys who would drive their own civilians to suicide in the name of their beloved Emperor. These internally forced perceptions would ultimately bring the civilian populations surging to the support of the nationalistic frenzy.
Not only were the civilians fed information designed to increase the hate of the other, but the military as well were given propaganda to be absorbed before and during the subsequent battles during the war. With the United States, videos were being made such as ?Know Your Enemy? which were used to let ?the enemy prove to our soldiers the enormity of his cause- and the justness of ours?[and to let] our boys hear the Nazis and the Japs shout their own claims of master- race crud and [then] our fighting men will know why they are in uniform. ? The Japanese response to this propaganda was the issued military book Read This and the War Is Won (Kore dake Yomeba Ware wa Kateru) . Here as well, the Japanese explained, among other things, why it was important to defeat the enemy. Within both of these military weapons, the respective side would reduce the enemy to a limited history driven to world conquest.
Both the ?East? and the ?West? saw the other as set on world domination. To the anti-axis powers, the thoughts were obvious: Japan, under the divine rule of the Emperor, had its mind set on all the ?eight corners of the world?. On the side of the Japanese, they focused on Western imperialism over the past hundreds of years and the infiltration not only into ?their own? countries, but also into the countries such as those in Asia who were under colonial control. These beliefs only spurred desperation and ?fight to the death? scenarios that prolonged the war.
On countless incidences, both sides would rather take death over surrender. Often, orders were even given directly from superiors telling the soldiers to do just that- never surrender. In the case of the Japanese though, this idea extended all the way to the civilian woman and children. Thanks to stereotypes brought forth substantially by propaganda, the civilians would decide to huddle around each other and commit mass suicide rather than surrendering to the Americans. Episodes like these were told about in some detail in the book In the Realm of a Dying Emperor where mass suicides like these were performed during the battle on Okinawa.
With the conclusion of the war the killing stopped, but it wouldn?t stop the racial stereotypes now well established in the minds of the two sides. In the book War Without Mercy, the author expresses his belief that the racial war is still being waged and that it is just, for now, in a ?latent? stage. I agree with his perception as well because of one very fundamental point that still drives the Japanese state of mind and perception: the sense of Japan still being a homogeneous state. With racial hatred and prejudice still at the forefront of the nations policies and perception on the ?outside?, I believe that it is a problem that is clearly still prevalent today.