Publication Date—October 17, 2016

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First Taken, Last Released

It must be spooky to those aware of WWII internment when would-be politicians speak today of locking up some other group of people because of their looks, culture, nationality or religion.

Really? Could we make the same mistake? Was George Santayana correct when he wrote more than 100 years ago that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”? Let First Taken fill in missing parts of the internment history as it serves as a memory-jogger.

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Why First Taken-Last Released?

Most Americans whose family histories cover World War II are aware of the taciturn manner in which those of all cultures and nationalities who served or were imprisoned speak of what they experienced. It was as if an entire generation clammed up.

Among those who did speak were a few who wrote the history that we have today of those times, just as journalists today are writing what will be the history that following generations will learn as history.

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75 Years Ago This Fall

The Murky Why Pearl Harbor

The US supplied 80 percent to 90 percent of Japan’s oil supplies to that point. That made it even more necessary from Japan’s standpoint that it expand its holdings in the Southeast Asia region, now to gain access to vital oil supplies in addition to nearly everything else it needed.

In Tokyo, the dysfunction at all levels of Japan’s government became somewhat surreal. The military people apparently felt a need to express their bravado and make macho statements about taking the war to the Americans, even to the point of drawing up plans for an attack on the United States.

The same military leaders who were members of the cabinet  took a different stance in face-to-face meetings with their civilian counterparts, emphasizing that military assessments of a Japan war with the United States produced consistent conclusions; Japan would lose, and lose big, probably ending in its destruction. Even they were looking for momma to block them at the precipice.

At the Imperial Conference of September 6, 1941, Hirohito, by this point a master of abstruse subtlety and the last to make a direct statement, much less give an order, read one of his father’s poems about praying for peace. Still no direct order from the emperor, considered a demigod at the same time he was commander-in-chief of imperial forces. It could be that he did not want to embarrass himself by giving orders that would not be obeyed.

At that conference, the military part of the government insisted that war was inevitable, so it must be prepared for one it could begin waging by the end of October. That date was important because a winter war would help impair Soviet Union participation on the side of the Western forces—although Japan had a neutrality agreement with the Soviets, it did not trust the giant nation to the north. But, anything that would impair a Soviet army would free the northern China part of Japan’s armed forces to fight in Central China. The conference agreed to simultaneous preparations for war and for peace.

See:  Excerpts


December 7, 1941 Set Off More Than the Pacific Part of World War II

Showing Our Worst Side

—World War II occurred seventy to seventy-five years ago, far beyond the memories of most people alive today. Even today’s elderly who lived through more than a year or two of that war have little knowledge of the period beyond their own anecdotal experiences and those of relatives or people they knew.

All other information they received at the time was through heavily censored and biased outlets, whether they be government or commercial. As in most nations, history in schools is taught from the beginning and works its way forward, rarely getting within twenty years of the present before the term ends. That left the next generation also untutored about the war.

Thus untutored, they have no point of historical reference to the demagogue-driven  racism and xenophobia that is rearing its ugly head again in America. A major presidential candidate has sincerely called for interning an entire group of people just because of their religion. He is Donald Trump and they are Muslims.

…(Read more in First Taken, Last Released: Overlooked WWII Internment)