>  Trip 2013   >  Yushukan Museum

The Yushukan museum at the Yasukuni shrine provides a particular perspective Japanese military history. We spent a fascinating couple of hours wandering through its martial exhibits.

The whole thing certainly starts off on a slightly discordant note, with the locomotive from the slave-labour constructed Thailand-Burma railway proudly displayed in the lobby (see previous post)

While we were obviously unable to read what the Japanese language exhibits said, the English counterparts were masterpieces in blame-shifting and outright elision of key events. For example, the Rape of Nanking (the Nanking “Incident” according to the museum) was treated, in approximately 50 words, as a successful military attack on a military target. Nothing more.

Then there’s the section on why Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, the Philippines and Malaya, which gave the cause as Japan having to act after its raw material supplies were closed off by western powers, particularly the U.S. Japan’s empire-building wasn’t mentioned.

I’m sure the Imperial War Museum has its clumsy, offensive and one-sided sections too. This, however, seemed defiantly reactionary, and even more so when compared to how Germany has addressed its WWII guilt.

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