[eng]Tojo's granddaughter says Japan war PM no criminal

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Roel R.
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[eng]Tojo's granddaughter says Japan war PM no criminal

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28 Jul 2005 04:11:22 GMT

Source: Reuters

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO, July 28 (Reuters) - On the day Japan surrendered in World War Two, the family of wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo packed into a small truck in the stifling summer heat and fled their home, afraid the victorious Allies would take their lives.

"August 15, 1945, was the day that everyone else became free," recalled Tojo's granddaughter, Yuko, six at the time. "But that was the day our post-war life of fleeing and hiding began."

Tojo, who became a symbol of wartime militarism for many both in and outside Japan, was hanged for war crimes in 1948.

He is also one of 14 Class A war criminals honoured at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, making visits there by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi controversial and a source of friction with China and South Korea.

Tojo was convicted on counts of waging wars of aggression against the Allies and China and of authorising inhumane treatment of prisoners of war and others forced his family into decades of reclusion so profound that letters were mailed to them under a different name.

Yuko decided to break that silence a decade ago to argue for a new view of her grandfather and history.

"My grandfather was certainly responsible for the nation," she said, surrounded by pictures of her grandfather in her modest Tokyo home. "But having responsibility and doing bad things are different. He was not a criminal.

"Post-war history was tampered with by the Allies," she added. "Japan's culture and the Japanese spirit, right down to the bottom of (our) hearts, were all dyed with this version of history. And it's been that way for the past 60 years."

Yoko's campaign to repair her grandfather's image coincides with a growing debate about who was to blame for Tokyo's wartime aggression, and a shift to the right among Japanese politicians.

"It reverberates in the larger debate," said Brad Glosserman, director of research at Pacific Forum CSIS, a Honolulu-based think-tank. "The political debate in Japan has shifted and the centre of gravity has moved to the right."

Now 66, Yuko has only vague memories of her grandfather, prime minister from 1941 to 1944, whose bespectacled face became a symbol of Japanese evil among Japanese enemies during the war.

"He was very kind and sympathetic, especially towards people in a weaker position in life, like servants or children."

She still cherishes several mementos, including the stub of Tojo's last cigarette and a photo taken when he became prime minister, where she is seen leaning against his knee.

TEXTBOOK REVELATION

The days after Japan's defeat were bewildering for Yuko: she didn't understand why she was ostracised by classmates on the school playground, or why neighbour's children whose parents had died in the war came after her with sticks and stones.

She didn't even find out her grandfather had been hanged until she was in the fifth grade.

"One of my classmates used to clutch his throat when he saw me, saying 'Tojo, death by hanging.' I wondered why he did that," she said. "It wasn't until I read in my social studies textbook that my grandfather and six others had been hanged that I knew.

"It was a shock. I thought he had died fighting the war."

Yuko upheld the family code of silence about her grandfather until the early 1990s, when the release of new records of the words of the late Emperor Hirohito that showed him expressing deep trust in Tojo made her feel times had changed.

A memoir about her family was followed by TV appearances and other media interviews, all an attempt to raise interest in what she calls the true history of her grandfather and the war.

"All of Japanese society has been brainwashed by the Allied view of history put forth by the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, that the war was an invasive war," she said.

"The tribunal was made up only of victorious nations, there was not one neutral nation involved. So of course it could not be a just trial."

Some conservative politicians have recently aired similar views. The government's top spokesman, Hiroyuki Hosoda, has said such remarks do not reflect the stance of the government, which has accepted the results of the Allied tribunal.

Herself a frequent visitor to Yasukuni, Yuko wants Koizumi to keep his pledge to visit the shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War Two, an emotive date he has avoided so far for fear of the diplomatic furore it would cause.

"That he doesn't go to Yasukuni (on Aug. 15) just because of the so-called Class A war criminals shows he is a real failure as the nation's top leader," she said. (Additional reporting by Linda Sieg)
vincent
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Bericht door vincent »

"My grandfather was certainly responsible for the nation," she said, surrounded by pictures of her grandfather in her modest Tokyo home. "But having responsibility and doing bad things are different. He was not a criminal.
hij moet ervan geweten hebben wat er aan de gang was, enhij heeft er niets tegen gedaan terwijl hij de macht had om er wel iets tegen te doen. Dat maakt hem in mijn ogen een oorlogscrimineel.
Ik heb er geen kracht meer voor
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