Japanophobia is fading.. Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) opens new chapter in relations between Philippines and Japan

Japanese officers disembark a helicopter at Tacloban in the Philippines. Photograph: EPA/Rolex Dela Pena

If the Philippines is as rich as South Korea and Malaysia both Asian countries suffered the brutal killings and abuses of Japan during the WWII in Asia, would the Philippines welcome the 1,000 Japanese Forces to step the island to help Typhoon Yolanda Victims?

The History 70 years past

Fear of Japanese People and heart to the land of the rising sun

Japanophobia or fear of Japanese people is still fresh for many of the Filipinos who suffered severe abuses from Japanese Military forces during the WWII but it is fading like a sunset for the new generations as many of the Filipinos clinging even to the sharp edge (Kapit sa patalim) to survive from the severe hardship of life in the Philippines' rotten government system, corruption, jobless, poverty, hunger, and etc. 

For the older people, Japanese are dangerous, killer, rapist but for the young generation, Japanese people are a golden key for them to see the land of the rising sun where opportunities are abundant for their better future.

While the young generation in the Philippines embraced Japan as their source of life, provider for their needs and hard earned dollars as entertainers, prostitute and club dancers or "Japayoki"; elders who suffered abuses from Japanese Military packed the sufferings and trauma with their entire life and live with fear just even to hear the word Japanese or "Hapon" in local term.

"Manang Milania" a Visayan origin migrated to Mindanao Island and settled in Barangay Ramon Magsaysay (Tugop) municipality of Salug in Zamboanga del Norte live with trauma in her entire life from her ordeal of unforgettable traumatic experience from the arms of Japanese soldiers who raped her many times and killed her entire family in her front witnessing the bloody massacre of her family with her younger brother thrown up and skewered by a sword  leaving the painful last word "manang tabang….." while the blood flowing out from the body of her  little brother, then ended his breath .

"anhing" "Manang Milania" is just among the victims with long untold stories about her sufferings from Japanese Soldiers; she didn't able to move on but live with fear in her entire life and even to hear any sound of trucks even in the middle of the night, for her the Japanese is coming and she will run away from home and keep doing it until she passed away last 2006. ("anhing" is a local term used to respect the name of the dead; a traditional and cultural belief that the grave will crack and the ghost will return and annoy you if you will not respect their names by calling "anhing before saying their name)

Like the other women who suffered from the Japanese soldiers; "anhing" "Manang Milania" is not alone suffering the trauma till her death but still many other women who tried to wake up even from the brink of their death when people tried to say "hala na'y Hapon" (Oh! There are Japanese). We have witnessed several women that carried their sufferings till their last breathe with tears and signed a hand to cover their head when they hear the word "Japanese" or "Hapon".

While the Philippines open the arms for friendship to Japan, rich countries who are also victims of Japanese abuses like South Korea, China and Malaysia still skeptical if Japan could be really trusted.

Among other Asian countries who suffered severe abuses from Japan; Philippines the only country who is remained poor and did not awaken how important are good economy, well equipped Military, modern technology and Research and developments to repel act of any invasion. Unlike China, South Korea and Malaysia who are now well equipped in their Military and with better economic success stories, the Philippines is alone moving backward.

If the Philippines during the Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that flattened Visayas region is already a rich country like South Korea and Malaysia, do you think Philippines will welcome Japanese Military?

Manila massacre

The Manila massacre refers to the February 1945 atrocities conducted against Filipino civilians in Manila, Philippines by Japanese troops in the Battle of Manila during World War II.

To preserve as large a force as possible to continue defensive operations in rural Luzon, Imperial Japanese Army General Tomoyuki Yamashita had insisted on a complete withdrawal of Japanese troops from Manila. However, this was not realized because of objections from Imperial headquarters. 10,000 marines under Vice Admiral Iwabuchi Sanji remained in Manila along with some IJA stragglers

Various credible Western and Eastern sources agree that the death toll was at least 100,000, tallying to around 10% of the population of the city. The massacre was at its worst in the Battle of Manila, in which the Allies shelled the city of Manila to drive out the Japanese. In this shelling, the city of Manila was totally destroyed. By the time the Japanese were driven out, the city was in ruins, becoming the second most severely damaged Allied capital city during the war, the first being Warsaw in Poland.  It is said that during lulls in the battle for control of the city, Japanese troops took out their anger and frustration on the civilians caught in the crossfire. The total of 100,000 deaths was counted after the battle, but the actual cause of their death is not known.

The Manila massacre was said to be one of several major war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army, as judged by the postwar military tribunal. Although General Yamashita didn't recognize any massacres, he was nonetheless judged to be responsible and executed. The Yamashita standard — regarding a commander's responsibility for action taken by anyone under his command — is based upon his trial.

Read: Japanese Veteran Writes of Brutal Philippine War – New York Times

Jintaro Ishida knows his country's guilty secrets. Like few other Japanese, he knows in detail about the atrocities of World War II, and he knows of the quiet torment of the aging veterans who took part.

He knows, for example, about the massacre at the well in the Philippine village of Lipa, where 400 people were thrown to their deaths. The blood lust of the soldiers ran so high, he says, that one of them smashed a rock onto the head of a woman who was combing her hair.

Mr. Ishida, 79, who served in the navy during the war, is tortured by the scenes, as if he himself had taken part. He rises in agitation as he describes them, waving his arms as if combing his hair, then whipping them downward like a crazed soldier flinging a stone.

Mr. Ishida is one of a small corps of researchers who are swimming against the tide of ignorance in Japan. A former newspaper reporter named Katsuichi Honda has published research about war crimes in China. A professor named Aiko Utsumi has researched war crimes committed in Indonesia.

Like many other Japanese, Mr. Ishida said, he had been ignorant of the dark side of his country's history -- of the massacres, sexual slavery, forced labor and the use of chemical and biological warfare.

After he retired in 1988, he decided to travel through Asia spreading the word about the horrors of the two atomic bombs dropped by the United States at Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the war. Instead of sympathy, he said, he sometimes found hostility.

''I was shocked to discover that the bombs were dropped to stop Japan,'' he said. ''I had thought that people around the world would understand the misery caused by the atomic bombs, but I realized that this idea was a very selfish one.''

He began reading wartime accounts, searching through the records of war crimes trials and systematically visiting the sites of massacres. Wherever he went, he said, the survivors had one question: How could the Japanese have been so cruel?

The result is an extraordinary work of parallel reporting, a book called ''The Remains of War: Apology and Forgiveness,'' published this year in English by Megabooks Company in the Philippines.

Its Japanese title is ''The Killers and the Killed.'' Like his earlier book, ''Walang Hiya,'' which in the Philippine language of Tagalog means ''Without Shame,'' it offered the first opportunity for Japanese to hear the stories of the victims.

''I really appreciate his work,'' said Mayumi Horita, 27, a Japanese teacher who served as his interpreter here. ''I feel disappointed that most Japanese don't know about him. Japanese should learn that if they tell the truth they will feel relieved. But they are afraid they will suffer more if they do.''

Indeed, that seems to have been true of many of the veterans Mr. Ishida talked to.

One old soldier, he said, told of taking part in a massacre at a village south of Manila called Calamba where 2,000 people were killed on Feb. 12, 1945.

The massacre at the well began on Feb. 27, 1945. A Japanese military unit ran wild in the village of Lipa, killing a total of more than 1,000 people.

''In the beginning, we could not kill even a man,'' says one of the soldiers at Lipa who is quoted in Mr. Ishida's new book. ''But we managed to kill him.

''Then we hesitated to kill a woman. But we managed to kill her, too. Then we could kill children. We came to think as if we were just killing insects.''

Today, Mr. Ishida seems stunned by what he has learned about his comrades and about human nature. ''These stories were beyond anything I had expected,'' he said. ''How could they have done this? Did they have no conscience?''

After a decade of research he has compiled a wealth of historical material. But he has been left with more questions than ever.

Typhoon opens new chapter in relations between Philippines and Japan

A small but not insignificant moment in history took place at the Philippine air force base adjoining Cebu airport on Cebu Island in the central Philippines after the typhoon Yolanda pounded the region.

Shortly before lunch, the door to the incident command post was opened by a Philippines military policeman who ushered in naval officer Lieut. Cdr. K Suzuki of the Japanese defense forces. Suzuki thereby became the first Japanese military officer to engage with his Philippine counterparts since his country's former imperial army was defeated there in June 1945, the redoubtable US general Douglas MacArthur having returned the previous October as he had promised when leaving in March 1942.

Unlike the charismatic US general, the Japanese did not return following their December 1941 bombing and invasion of the Philippines in the wake of their attack on Pearl Harbor.

While the name of MacArthur remains familiar in the central Philippines where he is revered, with several villages and areas named after him, no Japanese military has been back, at least on official duty, since the end of the second World War.

The notion of the Japanese military working in partnership with the Philippine military, and of being welcomed in such a role, would have been unthinkable – until last Friday.

The Japanese invasion, occupation and temporary rule in Leyte and Samar provinces in the central Philippines, where typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda as it is known here, did its worst, does not bring back happy memories. Occupying soldiers conducted themselves in the brutish manner that attended their war behavior across Asia.

'So afraid'

"We were hiding in holes dug under the floor of our homes," Eulalia Macaya (74) told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "The Japanese soldiers were patrolling but we couldn't see much of them. We could only see their boots. We were so afraid."

Beatrice Bisquera (91) recalled hiding in the mountains, something not possible now, she suggested, since the typhoon had stripped the hills: "Now there's nowhere to hide."

When he entered the incident command post room, Suzuki had the weight of such history on his shoulders. After the door was closed, he doubtless bowed to his new colleagues in the traditional manner, laying that history to rest and opening a new chapter. Underscoring the significance of the moment, Suzuki was accompanied by two Japanese diplomats: Gsugomu Nakagawa, minister at the Japanese embassy in Manila, and Shoji Otake, Japan's consul in Cebu.

Since the typhoon struck, key figures in the multinational civil and military disaster relief operation have sat at a dining room table in the incident command post, discussing and planning how to get help to the victims of Yolanda. The walls are covered in large-scale maps showing the areas of destruction and where help is needed.

With sources from Zamboanga del Norte Research Team, Wikipedia, New York Times and The Irish times

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