Tag Archives: Japan

Our former enemy shares his wisdom

Kaname Harada once fought against the United States of America.

He was a Japanese fighter pilot. He’s 98 now. Frail. Near the end of the line … apparently.

Harada has some wisdom for his government, one that sent him and other young warriors to fight in World War II: Don’t get involved again, ever, in war.


Harada is concerned that Japan might rewrite its constitution to allow its fighting forces to deploy abroad. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is thinking about revising the document, which prohibits Japanese armed forces from doing anything other than protecting the island nation from attack.

Abe was incensed at the Islamic State’s brutal murder of two Japanese journalists. Indeed, the world was incensed.

He ought to heed to advice of an aging Japanese Zero pilot.

Harada spoke recently to an audience about his experience in WorAS ld War II. They were enthralling and chilling all at once. According to the New York Times: “Nothing is as terrifying as war,” he began, before spending the next 90 minutes recounting his role in battles, from Japan’s early triumph at Pearl Harbor to its disastrous reversals at Midway and Guadalcanal. “I want to tell you my experiences in war so that younger generations don’t have to go through the same horrors that I did.”

Indeed, I have learned in recent years that the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is attracting aging Japanese warriors who are coming to the United States to pay their respects at the memorial that stands over the sunken hulk of the battleship sunk during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack — which brought the United States into the world war. These men are now getting old, just as our brave men and women are aging. They were following orders and doing their duty as they saw it.

As Harada told the Times: “I fought the war from the cockpit of a Zero, and can still remember the faces of those I killed,” said Mr. Harada, who said he was able to meet and befriend some of his foes who survived the war. “They were fathers and sons, too. I didn’t hate them or even know them.”

This old man’s wisdom is profound. It is gripping. It needs to be heard by all those who believe war ever is a sane option to any dispute between or among nations.

It isn’t.


Code Talkers provided unique heroism

NAVAJO COUNTY, Ariz. — I guess it goes back to the first time I ever heard of the Code Talkers.

Every time I see the word “Navajo,” I think of those brave men.

We blazed through Navajo County today on our way home and the thought of the Code Talkers came pouring through.

Equally compelling, in my view, is thinking of the individual who conceived the mission our armed forces handed these brave Americans. Credit for employing the Navajo Code Talkers has gone to Philip Johnston, a civil engineer for the city of Los Angeles. He was raised on the Navajo reservation as the son of missionaries … and spoke the language fluently.

The Navajo weren’t the first Native Americans to answer the call to become Code Talkers. Their language is believed to be the only one the enemy never  decoded.

The mission handed to Navajo Indians was to devise a code that would baffle the Japanese in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

Someone in the War Department figured that the enemy couldn’t possibly understand what was being said between Americans who spoke a language that was as unique as any on the planet.

Japanese cryptographers were able to decipher some coded messages during the war. So, to get around their knowledge of how to break our codes, U.S. war planners devised a code using the Navajo language.

Imagine sitting in a Japanese communications monitoring station, listening to individuals speaking to each other in a language you’ve never heard. You cannot identify it as, say, French, Russian or Spanish — let alone English.

That was the work of the Code Talkers. They’re all gone now. They were heroes in the absolute truest sense of the word.


I’ve long honored them for the heroism they performed. I also have honored Philip Johnston, who concocted this crazy notion of employing a language the enemy couldn’t decipher.

Brilliant, I tell you. Brilliant.


ISIL's latest act must intensify world scorn

The Islamic State well might have performed an act that finally — finally! — has produced a unity in resolve among Arab states to wage all-out war against the terrorist monsters.

ISIL burned a Jordanian pilot to death, causing Jordan’s King Abdullah to declare his nation will conduct a “relentless” pursuit of the terrorists.


As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette opined in an editorial: “The latest brutal execution by the Islamic State group, of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, may be hardening Middle East perceptions of the organization.”

The civilized world should hope that is the case.

President Obama today, at the National Prayer Breakfast, called ISIL a “cult of death.”

ISIL terrorists have beheaded prisoners and shown those brutal acts to the world. Now the immolation of the fighter pilot has occurred and it well might steel the Arab world to join the fight fully, along with the United States and other Western allies, in seeking the destruction of ISIL.

The beheading of those two Japanese journalists was appalling in the extreme as well, prompting an angry response from the Japanese government. As the Post-Gazette noted: “The reactions of Japan and Jordan were strong. The prime minister of Japan, with its post-World War II tradition of nonmilitarism, is talking about a new constitution that would permit a more robust Japanese military role.”

These acts of sheer brutality and barbarism have defined this new world war.

May the nations closest to the fight — those in the Middle East — now join the fight in earnest.

The civilized world needs their righteous anger on the side of human decency.


Condemnations pouring out over latest ISIL atrocity

President Obama called it “heinous.” Secretary of State John Kerry called it “barbaric.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it a “cruel and despicable act of terrorism.”

The object of this worldwide scorn once again is the Islamic State, which reportedly beheaded a captured Japanese journalist supposedly in “retaliation” for Japan’s assistance in the international fight against these terrorist monsters.


Kenji Goto was murdered because Japan has been sending food and medical supplies to assist the international coalition and to lend aid to those who are suffering from the violence in Iraq and Syria, where ISIL is conducting its reign of terror and destruction.

Japan’s hands are tied in this fight, given that its government is sworn by the treaty it signed at the end of World War II that prohibits it from deploying armed forces overseas. Japan maintains a stout military for national defense purposes only. And that’s an understandable caveat that the Allies placed on Japan, given its own history of ruthlessness and, um, barbarism during WWII.

However, none of that excuses for an instant the fate that apparently befell Kenji Goto and Huruna Yakawa — who was beheaded earlier.

All of this insane ghoulishness only requires that we maintain the fight against these monstrous agents of evil.

ISIL’s appetite for barbarism stretches one’s ability to describe it in strong enough language. Heinous, despicable, barbaric, cruel? Yes, all of those are true, but they don’t go far enough. I’m at a loss to find the appropriate description to hang on these monsters.

They need to die. A painful and excruciating death would suit many of us just fine.


Terrorists compared to American patriots

You shouldn’t have gone there, Dr. Ben Carson.

No sir. You should not have compared the Islamic State terrorists — the monstrous demons who behead people in public — to the brave warriors who fought against British tyranny to create the United States of America.

That’s what you did, Doc, when you said: “They got the wrong philosophy, but they’re willing to die for what they believe, while we are busily giving away every belief and every value for the sake of political correctness.”


That statement might have stood on its own, Dr. Carson, but you had prefaced it by saying American revolutionary patriots also were willing to die for their cause.

Perhaps a better comparison, Doc, would have been that kamikaze pilots flying for the Japanese Empire were willing to “die for their beliefs” as they flew their aircraft into American warships during World War II.

What you’ve done, sir, is juxtapose a cherished American ideal — the fight for liberty, freedom and individual dignity — with monstrous acts, crimes against humanity.

I understand, Dr.Carson, that you are pondering a run for the presidency in 2016. Conservatives adore your ideology and they hang on your words. I appreciate as well your intelligence and obvious brilliance as a leading neurosurgeon and medical scholar.

But just as that goofy Texas congressman, Randy Weber, erred in comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler in a tweet — for which he later sort of apologized — you have mixed two radically different examples of why people lay down their lives for causes in which they believe.



One final trip to Arizona Memorial

Four men ventured to Hawaii this week to pay tribute to more than 1,000 of their shipmates.

They went to the USS Arizona Memorial, which sits proudly in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

They are the last survivors of the crew that was hit on Dec. 7, 1941 by Japanese warplanes. The men who perished on the Arizona are still entombed in the water below the memorial. These four comrades say they won’t go back for future services marking, in President Roosevelt’s words, “the date, which will live in infamy.”


But they came this weekend to honor those who died on the terrible day 73 years ago.

They’re old men now. In their 90s. They’re frail, but as an article noted about their return, it’s as if in their minds that time has stood still since that horrific Sunday morning. Of course, time hasn’t stood still for anyone.


The coverage of today’s event reminds me of a story told to me by a good friend here in Amarillo about a visit he made recently to the memorial. The shortened version is as follows.

My friend, Roy, watched an elderly gentleman struggle to get off the water taxi that ferries visitors from the island to the Arizona memorial. The gentleman finally got off the craft and shuffled toward the exhibit inside the memorial.

It was then that he noticed the gentleman was of Asian descent. A Coast Guardsman on duty at the time told my friend that the fellow was one of the Japanese pilots who inflicted such grievous damage on the U.S. Pacific Fleet that day, and he was coming back to Hawaii to pray for the souls who died that day and to seek forgiveness.

It’s instructive to hear these stories, if only to remind us that the “enemy” comprised young men who were doing their duty, just as our young men — and women — were doing theirs.

Those pilots are now old men. Their ranks are dwindling. Soon they’ll all be gone.

Let us not forget that emotional pain is universal. It follows no ideology. It’s as real to those who fought on the other side as it to our side.


U.S. primed to pick fight with China?

You have to hand it to the brass at the Pentagon, not to mention the commander in chief.

With foreign policy crises either erupting or about to erupt in places like Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, North Korea and sub-Saharan Africa, the folks at the Pentagon decide to provoke China by flying B-52 bombers into airspace the Chinese claim as their own.


China has declared ownership of space over some mineral-rich islands near the coast of Japan. The Japanese also claim that territory. Who’s right is just about anyone’s guess.

Now comes the United States, with its immense military presence in the region. The Air Force launched a couple of B-52s over the disputed area. The Chinese responded by sending their only aircraft carrier into motion, along with a couple of guided-missile frigates.

Nothing happened. No shots were fired.

I’m betting the United States isn’t going to let China bully Japan — our key ally in East Asia. Heaven knows the Chinese have done a number on Taiwan for many years, claiming that the now-independent nation remains part of the mainland empire, given that Taiwan created a separate government after fleeing the mainland in 1949 after losing a bloody civil war with the communists who now run China.

I also should add that Vietnam, another ancient foe of China, is worried about Chinese aims on the region. Vietnam and China fought a fierce border war in the late 1970s after the United States withdrew its forces from Vietnam in 1975.

What are the Chinese up to remains anyone’s guess.

They do understand the showing of force, which is the United States did with the B-52 flyovers. Yes, the birds were unarmed — but there’s plenty of firepower nearby.

Kennedy is qualified to be envoy

The chattering class is yammering over whether Caroline Kennedy is qualified to become the next U.S. ambassador to Japan.

She’s never held elected office, or run a big public agency, or managed a political campaign, or been schooled in the details of U.S. diplomacy. That’s what they’re saying.

I’ll reiterate yet again that Kennedy is qualified by virtue of the criteria presidents of both parties set for these high-profile ambassadorial assignments. She’s a big supporter of the man who occupies the White House and that’s good enough.

Allow me this comparison: Teel Bivins’s appointment to be U.S. ambassador to Sweden.

What qualified the late Amarillo state senator? Well, he was a big fundraiser for President George W. Bush. He campaigned diligently for the then-Texas governor when he was running for president in 2000. Bivins held exactly one elected office, that of state senator, before being tapped in 2003 to present his credentials to the Swedish government in Stockholm.

By all accounts, Bivins did a fine job representing U.S. interests in the Baltic region of Europe. How did he do that? He was surrounded by a competent staff of career foreign service officers who taught everything he needed to know about Sweden, not to mention about diplomatic protocol.

I’ll concede that Sweden isn’t nearly the economic powerhouse that Japan has become. Still, Sweden is no Third World backwater. It has a vibrant automobile industry and it manufactures fighter jets that are sold to many nations around the world. It is one of he world’s most socialized countries. It taxes its citizens heavily to pay for things like medical care.

That was the environment into which Teel Bivins, a staunch conservative Texas Republican lawmaker was thrown.

He did just fine.

Kennedy has access to even more expertise than Bivins ever had. She’s a well-educated lawyer who comes from the nation’s premier political families. She could be a quick study on the complexities of Japan’s economy, its geopolitical importance and its key role in keeping the peace in east Asia.

I don’t doubt for a minute that she’s qualified.