Thursday, September 29, 2011


I look for one thing, I find something else. I was interested in the various views of WWII in Japanese culture today, because I am interested in rationalisation, and one-sidedness, and perspective. I slipped into another topic.

My father was in the army of occupation in Hokkaido after the war. He had been trained as a paratrooper, so discovering that the 11th Airborne was the primary unit in the occupying force wasn't surprising. Smacking up against the accusations of rape and other crimes against the people of Hokkaido has a different look to me than it might to others. Other people likely look at the broader questions of whether knowledge of the crimes was suppressed or the evils exaggerated - whether the sexual crimes of the Japanese army against it's own women (and more horribly against the Koreans) are conflated in the totals and whether that changes the picture - and whether the odd cooperation of the Japanese in setting up brothels, followed by MacArthur's closing of them, followed by the increase in rape...well, it's a long and complicated picture. But it is a general, national picture, of whether Americans were blameable or not blameable for X, the Japanese blameable or not blameable for Y.

Different questions leap out at me. My father committed sexual crimes against little girls back here, either in Southington CT or Granby, MA. Or both. The rapist and the molester are generally not drawn from the same pool, but this situation may be more worrisome. Oriental women are smaller, slighter, look younger, and the age at which they "allowed" (read "sold") their daughters to be prostitutes was younger than would be considered here. And under occupation, in privation and poverty, in a culture where the individual is expected to endure suffering for the sake of the family...

Where does one learn that child attraction? Is it learned? I believe that attractions can be either innate or learned. Simple operant condition would suggest that orgasm is sufficient reward to teach someone to enjoy a category of partners one was neutral to before - or even antipathetic towards.

My family and my country are two different things. That one is justified against an enemy does not mean that the other automatically gets a pass. Only once did I hear him talk about Hokkaido - he ran, or was well up in running the post office there. I was hyperalert and caught a few places where the narrative diverted. I think at one point, when describing how grateful the person he replaced was to see him, and how he showed him around and showed him the ropes, he was on the verge of saying "...and where the best whorehouses were," but caught himself (wife present, I think grandsons present; sons, anyway) and said "teahouses" instead. As if. Brothels would be a lesser sin, I suppose, though I'm not sure what my ranking is based on.

I'm coming back to the general, national issues for the reasons in the first paragraph. I don't see what else I have to say on the personal issue. It's there.


karrde said...


People always welcome the military men home, but don't always ask what the men did when they weren't on the front lines...

And there were military units that joked that any wedding-rings present disappeared when the wheels of the airplane left the runway.

About your father: is this acknowledge family history, or did he do time in jail, or both? I'm curious, though mostly because I'm unaware of how such things were handled in the past.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Reasonably well-known. We knew growing up that my mother had divorced my father when he went to jail, though it was all left very vague. When we were in our 20's he told my brother a lot of the story, and Jonathan told me. I told my sons what I knew, and have mentioned it from time to time with friends. I don't know the details.