U.S.-Japan Partnership: Partnership for What?

The U.S. was founded 240 years ago based on freedom and democracy.  It is supposed to serve as a beacon of hope for people who want to seek justice and to right past wrongs.  However, if we examine the U.S.-Japan relationship since the end of WWII, especially that relationship in recent years, we can only come to the conclusion that the U.S.-Japan partnership is not a partnership that Americans should be proud of.  As a matter of fact, it is the opposite of that beacon of hope for people who want to seek justice and to right past wrongs.  This article discusses the reason for that conclusion.

The U.S.-Japan relationship must be discussed in terms of what happened during WWII and also with respect to their relationships with China.  During WWII, or more generally speaking during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945). Japan committed massive and inhumane atrocities in China, as well as in other parts of Asia.  These atrocities include the Nanking Massacre, sex slaves (euphemistically called comfort women by Japan), biological and chemical warfare (including vivisections of live civilians and prisoners of war), and slave labor.  These atrocities have already been covered in other articles in this website and will not be repeated here.  Yet in spite of some of the most horrendous atrocities committed in human history, Japan still has not officially acknowledged and apologized. [1]

What does that have to do with the U.S.?  Let’s examine some of the major U.S. policy decisions with respect to Japan and China during the past 70+ years since the end of WWII.

  • During the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE, also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trials), none of the top leaders, scientists, or doctors who were involved in Japan’s massive biological and chemical warfare (e.g., Unit 731 in Harbin) was prosecuted as war criminals.  As a matter of fact, amnesty for these war criminals was exchanged for receiving their data, knowledge, and cooperation (including employing some of them in U.S. military laboratories).  This has been documented in several books and articles, including those by American medical historians such as Dr. Martin Furmanski. [2]
  • Emperor Hirohito was not prosecuted as a war criminal, even though the Emperor of Japan was a hands-on emperor.  If the Emperor did not do anything wrong, why should Japan apologize for what they did during WWII?
  • After the Chinese Communists won the civil war in China, the post-1949 policy of the U.S. toward China has been consistently (with the possible exception of the short period around the Nixon visit to China in 1972) a policy of isolation, surrounding, and weakening of China, including not recognizing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for almost 30 years.
  • Neither the PRC or the Republic of China (ROC) was invited to participate in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, even though more than 50 countries were invited and even though China was one of the victorious countries and the country that suffered the most casualties and atrocities under the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII.  This treaty was orchestrated and controlled by the U.S. and formally ended WWII in Asia.   One of the results of this treaty is that Japan is required to give up territories, such as Taiwan, that she had seized earlier from China, but it did not say that Taiwan should be returned to China, as was so stated in the 1943 Cairo Declaration, the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, and the 1945 Japanese Instrument of Surrender. [3]
  • On December 25, 1953, the U.S. made a unilateral decision to include the Diao Yu Islands (also called the Senkaku Islands by the Japanese) as part of the territory of Ryukyu Islands (or the Okinawa Prefecture) whose administrative rights would be transferred to Japan in 1972. [3,4]
  • Besides keeping Taiwan from being unified with the rest of China, the U.S. also interfered in the internal affairs of China through its direct involvement in the armed Tibetan revolt in 1959. [5]
  • Although the U.S. was significantly involved in shaping post-war Japan, yet it did not do much as Japan continued not acknowledging and apologizing for the massive atrocities she committed in Asia during WWII, even to the extent of major revision starting in the early 1980s of their history textbooks with respect to WWII.  More recently, the Japanese government even tried to revise U.S. history textbooks. [6]
  • Japanese political leaders, including her prime ministers, have on many occasions paid tribute at the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 convicted and executed Japanese WWII Class A War Criminals are enshrined.  This is analogous to the German chancellor paying tribute at a memorial for Adolf Hitler.
  • Recently, Japan’s Abe government, although facing strong opposition within Japan, is trying hard to revise her constitution that forbids Japan to use her military forces other than to defend her own country.  This raises grave concern about the revival of Japanese militarism, especially in light of her refusal to acknowledge and apologize for their massive atrocities committed during WWII.
  • In the past couple of years, the U.S. is constantly accusing China of doing illegal activities in the islands in the South China Sea, whereas China has more overwhelmingly significant historical and legal claims to these islands than any other country.  Furthermore, what China has been doing in the islands she controls are similar to what other countries, such as Vietnam and Philippines have been doing for many years in the islands under their control. [7]  Yet, you don’t hear of any complaints from the U.S. about the actions of Vietnam and Philippines.
  • It is an indisputable fact that U.S. is militarily surrounding China.  It has military bases in Japan, South Korea, Philippines, and Guam.  It also has military troops in many other parts of Asia.  The U.S.’s huge 7th Fleet is patrolling the waters all around China, with 60 to 70 ships and submarines, 300 aircraft, and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel, and just in 2013 participated in 80 maritime exercises and conducted 192 port visits throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. also has military alliances with several countries around China, in particular, the U.S. has mutual defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.  Yet, the U.S. has been accusing China of building up her military strength! Recall how the U.S. reacted when USSR put nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962.   That resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis that almost led to a major or even world war.

Yes, China has become the world’s second largest economy, and it has become a major competitor to the U.S. in terms of trade, financial matters, as well as political influences.  When an established champion athlete faces stiff competition from a new emerging challenger, the established athlete will look within himself and his team to examine carefully every aspect of his and his team’s training and physical and mental preparation in order to improve the athlete’s performance.  The established champion athlete and his team do not go outside of the rules of competition to damage the competitor’s physical body or to sabotage the competitor team’s ability to train or to compete.  Similarly, now that the U.S. is facing stiff competition from China as the world’s number one economy, she should look within herself for ways to improve the U.S. as a whole, instead of trying to sabotage China. Yet, what the U.S. is doing in response to the challenge from China is to adopt what I call the Tonya Harding-like foreign policy. [8]

With the shaping, control, and influence of post-WWII Japan, the U.S. if it had pressed Japan to acknowledge and apologize for her WWII atrocities, Japan surely would have done it.  Yet, the U.S. has not pressed Japan and doesn’t seem to have any intention of doing so; that is because the U.S. wants to use Japan, as well as other countries like the Philippines and Vietnam, to serve as her front-line pawns in her policy to isolate, surround, and weaken China.  This is really the essence of the so-called “pivot to Asia” policy.  This is why we say that the U.S. is far from the country intended by the founding fathers to be a beacon for people who want to seek justice and to right past wrongs.

Summary:  China and Japan are the two largest economic powers in Asia, as well as the world’s second and third largest economy.  To have peace in Asia, there must be peace between China and Japan.  Without peace in Asia, there cannot be world peace.  The U.S. is choosing a foreign policy that could easily lead to war with China, in a war that has no moral or legal basis, except to weaken China.  This is the 21st century; there will be no winners in a war between the two most important powers in the world.  There will be only losers.  Instead of sabotaging China’s growth, the U.S. should look within herself to reinvent herself to become an even better competitor, and at the same time look for ways to work with China and other countries to solve the world’s many pressing problems, such as environmental protection, nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament, fight against terrorism, world hunger, and world peace.  There are also important and huge international infrastructure projects that the U.S., China, and other countries can collaborate on that are also economically rewarding.  In other words, instead of adopting a Tonya Harding-like foreign policy where there would not be any winners but only losers, the U.S. should adopt a policy that can result in a win-win-win situation for the U.S., her competitors, and world peace.

Americans must realize that the current U.S. policy with respect to Japan and China is not in the best interests of the U.S. and the American people.  It is also counter to the admirable principles of the American founding fathers.



[1] Some parts of the Japanese government have on a few occasions voiced their regret over those past actions, but invariably, those announcements were negated by subsequent announcements by the Japanese government.  In addition, no such announcement has ever come from both Houses of Japan’s National Diet, the highest organ of state power in Japan.  Furthermore, the actions of the Japanese government are far from being consistent with such acknowledgment and apology.  For example, Japan’s prime ministers have paid tribute at the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 convicted and executed Japanese WWII Class A war criminals are enshrined, and Japan for many years has revised her textbooks so that generations of their students would know nothing about this part of history.

[2] Quote of Dr. Martin Furmanski, an American medical historian:  “In a disgraceful agreement with the Japanese biological weapons war criminals, the U.S. offered immunity from war crimes prosecution in exchange for the scientific data the Japanese had collected from murdering Chinese citizens, as well as citizens of other countries, both in their laboratories and in field applications.  The official U.S. and Japanese policy became one of denying the existence of the Japanese biological weapons program.”  This quote came from Dr. Furmanski’s article “An Investigation of the Afflicted Area of Anthrax and Glanders Attacks by Japanese Aggressors” in the book Blood-Weeping Accusations:  Records of Anthrax Victims, by Li Xiaofang, 2005.

[3] See, e.g., “Inconsistent Foreign Policy May Drag U.S. Into Another War,” http://www.dontow.com/2012/09/inconsistent-foreign-policy-may-drag-u-s-into-another-war/.

[4] See, e.g., “U.S. Must Abandon Its ‘Forgotten Holocaust’ Foreign Policy,” http://www.dontow.com/2014/03/u-s-must-abandon-its-forgotten-holocaust-foreign-policy/.

[5] See, e.g., “Some Thoughts on Tibet,” http://www.dontow.com/2008/04/some-thoughts-on-tibet/, and the book The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet, by Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, University Press of Kansas, 2002.

[6] See, e.g., “Japanese historians seek revision of U.S. textbook over ‘comfort women’ depiction,” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/18/national/history/japanese-historians-seek-revision-of-u-s-textbook-over-comfort-women-depiction/#.V2cRVTUXgcM.

[7] See, e.g., “Some Thoughts on the South China Sea Dispute,” http://www.dontow.com/2015/12/some-thoughts-on-south-china-sea-dispute/.

[8] See “United States’ Tonya Harding-like Foreign Policy.” http://www.dontow.com/2015/06/united-states-tonya-harding-like-foreign-policy/.

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3 Responses to “U.S.-Japan Partnership: Partnership for What?”

  1. Y.L.Yen says:


    Thank you for another important statement that documents the relationship between the U.S., China and Japan after WWII.

    It pointed out many aspects of the American game play against China. It is not only injustice and not good for both countries, but also hurts the world and mankind.

    Yes, we want to put the U.S.’s interest as top priority, but there are better ways to achieve instead of bullying, conflicts, military treats and war. Otherwise it will come back to bite ourselves.


  2. Peter Li says:

    An excellent essay, Don. May I forward to our group which is working on opposition to the “Pivot to Asia” foreign policy.

  3. Ann Santee says:

    Excellent analysis of the US Japan partnership. Few Amweicans are aware of the US role in sabotaging peace in the South China Sea region. Having missiles set up in South Korea aiming at China is outrageous.

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