Welcome to Saturday's Potluck
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Several unresolved tensions points exist from the World War II creating undercurrents in today's relationships. Sorting through many of the the twist and turns was author Sterling Seagrave. His work is referenced by many other authors on Asia.
He categorized the Chinese population of the world into various groups influencing world events. The communist Chinese of the Peoples Republic of China, the Nationalist Chinese of the Republic of China, historical dynastic China and global networks of super-rich Overseas Chinese who keep their wealth offshore and manipulate governments in the countries that enrich them. I have additional categories when reading and viewing videos on the subject. Does the author have an understanding of historical China from a Western or Eastern perspective. Yes it is complex, but it is a large multi-ethnic country with long history.
Gold Warriors: America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold by Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave.
It may be pointless to try to establish which World War Two Axis aggressor, Germany or Japan, was the more brutal to the peoples it victimised. The Germans killed six million Jews and 20 million Russians; the Japanese slaughtered as many as 30 million Filipinos, Malays, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Indonesians and Burmese, at least 23 million of them ethnic Chinese.
The real differences between the two nations, however, developed in the years and decades after 1945. Survivors and relatives of victims of the Holocaust have worked for almost six decades to win compensation from German corporations for slave labour and to regain possession of works of art stolen from their homes and offices
It has so far paid more than $45 billion in compensation and reparations. Japan, on the other hand, has given its victims a mere $3 billion, while giving its own nationals around $400 billion in compensation for war losses.
Most important, John Foster Dulles, President Truman’s special envoy to Japan charged with ending the occupation, wrote the peace treaty of 1951 in such a way that most former POWs and civilian victims of Japan are prevented from obtaining any form of compensation from either the Japanese Government or private Japanese corporations who profited from their slave labour. He did so in perfect secrecy and forced the other Allies to accept his draft (except for China and Russia, which did not sign). Article 14(b) of the treaty, signed at San Francisco on 8 September 1951, specifies: ‘Except as otherwise provided in the present Treaty, the Allied Powers waive all reparations claims of the Allied Powers, other claims of the Allied Powers and their nationals arising out of any actions taken by Japan and its nationals in the course of the prosecution of the war, and claims of the Allied Powers for direct military costs of occupation.’
Why do these attitudes protecting and excusing Japan persist? Why has the US pursued such divergent policies towards postwar Germany and Japan? Why was the peace treaty written in the way it was? Many reasons have been offered over the years, including that Japan was too poor to pay, that these policies were necessary to keep postwar Japan from ‘going Communist’, and that the Emperor and Japanese people had been misled into war by a cabal of insane militarists, all of whom the occupation had eliminated from positions of responsibility. The explanation offered in the Seagraves’ book is considerably more sinister. It concerns what the United States did with Japan’s loot once it discovered how much of it there was, the form it took, and how little influence its original owners had.
Back in Washington, it was decided at the highest levels, presumably by Truman, to keep these discoveries secret and to funnel the money into various off-the-books slush funds to finance the clandestine activities of the CIA.
Twenty years after Santa Romana stopped searching in 1947, a secondary – and quite violent – hunt for gold began, carried out by Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos recovered at least $14 billion in gold – $6 billion from the sunken Japanese cruiser Nachi in Manila Bay, and $8 billion from the tunnel known as ‘Teresa 2’, 38 miles south of Manila in Rizal province. During 2001, Philippine politics were rocked when the former solicitor-general Francisco Chavez alleged that Irene Marcos-Araneta, Marcos’s youngest daughter, maintained an account worth $13.2 billion in Switzerland. Its existence apparently came to light when she tried to move it from the Union Bank of Switzerland to Deutsche Bank in Düsseldorf.
The Seagraves’ narrative is comprehensive, but they are not fully reliable as historians. They have a tendency to overreach, exaggerating the roles of Japanese gangsters and ex-military American bit-players when the bankers, politicians and CIA operatives are scary enough. They know the Philippines well, but are unreliable on Japan and do not read Japanese. The book is full of errors that could easily be corrected by a second-year student of the language – the ship they repeatedly call the Huzi is accurately romanised Fuji; the important Japan Sea port is Maizuru, not Maisaru; tairiki is not a Japanese word: they mean tairiku ronin (a ‘Continental adventurer’ or a ‘China carpetbagger’); and their mysterious
Another reading recommendation.
Servitors of Empire: Studies in the Dark Side of Asian America
by Darrell Y. Hamamoto
Forcing a fundamental rethinking of the Asian American elite, many of whom have attained top positions in business, government, academia, sciences, and the arts, this book will be certain to generate a good deal of controversy and honest discussion regarding the role Asian Americans will play in the new century as China and India loom ever larger in the world economic system. Not since the large-scale infusion of scientists and engineers fleeing Nazi Germany has there been such a mass importation of intellectual labor from U.S. client states in Asia.
What is on your mind today? (Responses to Covid questions and dialog to be conducted at The Dose diary)