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The role of sniper particularly suits the mentality of the Jap soldier.
July 16, 2006 5:24 PM   Subscribe

The Punch Below The Belt is a WWII U.S. Government propaganda pamphlet scanned & hosted by our own fake & jonson. [Via Projects]
posted by guruguy9 (52 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The scans are little huge, but there's a PDF available on the homepage for anyone who wants to scale it down.
posted by jonson at 5:35 PM on July 16, 2006


Errr, that's more training materiel than propoganda.
posted by IronLizard at 5:52 PM on July 16, 2006


*fakes*

*punches jonson below the belt*
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:09 PM on July 16, 2006


Navigation is easier than if first appears, if you click on the page numbers it takes you to the next page.

Terrific post and a great public service. I teach American history online and this stuff is absolute gold to me and my students. Thanks.
posted by LarryC at 6:12 PM on July 16, 2006


Yes it is racist as hell, but remeber that the fighting in the Pacific was some of the fiercest in the war. The Japanese high command gave orders to fight to the death - no surrender, hoping that an already war weary US would give them easier terms for surrender and allow them to keep the emperor in power.

The island fighting saw some of the highest casualty rates and men were driven insane from the constant battle. Positions had to be won unconditionally and the Japanese fighters and even the civilians would commit mass suicide rather than surrender.

American captives were killed and horrible, almost unspeakable things were done with their bodies (decapitation, genitals mutilated and put in their mouths). Even the intense firebombing of Japan did not change the japanese commanders orders for suicide even when it was clear that no victory was possible.

A good documentary on the subject is, American Experience - Victory In The Pacific from PBS. It deals openly with this subject and the American GI's speak frankly about their intense hatred for the Japs.
posted by vronsky at 6:16 PM on July 16, 2006


The PDf is more readable if you have a large monitor.
posted by LarryC at 6:17 PM on July 16, 2006


The role of rover particularly suits the mentality of the Martian soldier.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:19 PM on July 16, 2006


And an excellent book on the subject is War Without Mercy.
posted by jonson at 6:30 PM on July 16, 2006


vronsky, your post is an assemblage of facts, but hardly an argument. What exactly do you mean by "racist as hell, but remember..."

Are you saying that it's okay to dehumanize your enemy simply because he is, indeed, your enemy?
posted by odinsdream at 6:52 PM on July 16, 2006


Racist? Ask any Filipino or Singaporean who survived the war and you'd realize that such hatred was pretty much well-deserved.

When the Japanese were cornered in Manila at the end of the war, they decided to take the rest of the city with them to Hell.

My wife and I recently visited this crypt in Intramuros where the Japanese had once piled up huge pyramids of Filipino corpses. They'd put a glass of water in front of each pile. If the water had been significantly depleted overnight, they'd assume that someone inside the pile was just playing possum and bayonet the pile some more for good measure.

I spent two years in Singapore, writing ad copy for the Singaporean Army, and their war experiences with the Japanese were pretty similar. I mean similarly horrific.

In that context, are the racist epithets in this leaflet really all that bad? Not that I think of modern-day Japanese in the same way (I don't), but for its time, isn't the content of this leaflet rather tame considering what happened in the course of the war?
posted by micketymoc at 6:52 PM on July 16, 2006


I can second War Without Mercy. This brand of racism was not incidental nor a "quaint" artifact from a bygone era, but was in many ways purposely created.
posted by absalom at 7:06 PM on July 16, 2006


Uh-huh. Say, has anyone ever seen a bunch of [plural name of ethnic group] doing [name of criminal act, or other transgression]? Kinda makes you understand why folks call 'em [deragotory slur in reference to a particular ethnic group]!
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:12 PM on July 16, 2006


It's funny 'cause they're different.

Those Americans from the 1940s.
posted by dhartung at 7:14 PM on July 16, 2006


odinsdream - without any idea of what the enemy was in fact doing to the citizens in their occupied territories, yes, it's quite easy to deplore this cartoon as somehow "dehumanizing". I mean, it's hard to presume the humanity of an aggressor who refuses to extend you the same privilege.

Again, context: the average Japanese grunt thought their conquests were somehow sub-human. The extensive record of Japanese atrocities in the Pacific bears this out.
posted by micketymoc at 7:16 PM on July 16, 2006


micketymoc - I absolutely concur that the Japanese used a level of tactics that were repellent to western notions of a "civilized" war, but there's also no question that this booklet, with its yellow skinned bucktoothed eyeglass wearing cowardly semi-human cartoon villains is a pretty racist document. Also, odinsdream, no one's saying "it's okay", I just think it's easy for people who didn't live through the events of the war in the Pacific to judge from a distance.
posted by jonson at 7:16 PM on July 16, 2006


"but there's also no question that this booklet, with its yellow skinned bucktoothed eyeglass wearing cowardly semi-human cartoon villains is a pretty racist document." - oh, no question. But it is an artifact of its age, when "the only good Jap was a dead Jap". I simply can't find it in me to make any worthwhile comparisons between their racial attitudes then and ours now, considering the Japanese Army's inhumanity throughout the war.

am curious - are there any other "notions" apart from "western" ones that would find the Japanese Army's tactics somehow acceptable?
posted by micketymoc at 8:00 PM on July 16, 2006


From Chapter 7: Booby Traps:

"The Japs, like the Germans, love gadgets. A Jap tourist climbing Mt. Fuji, like a German tourist visiting Old Heidelberg, is--or was--never without his camera. It was not, however, quite as good a camera as the German's, and the pictures that came out of it were usually out of focus or light-struck; the photo of Mt. Fuji looked very much like the photo of grandmother Nikimoto on her 80th birthday. The truth is, the average Jap isn't too bright at mechanical matters. Nevertheless he keeps on trying."

I'm sure I don't need to explain why I find this paragraph hilarious.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:01 PM on July 16, 2006


am curious - are there any other "notions" apart from "western" ones that would find the Japanese Army's tactics somehow acceptable?

Yes. Japanese ones.
posted by jonson at 8:15 PM on July 16, 2006


Replace "Jap" with "insurgent", "freedom fighter" or simply "soldier" and the booklet is a veritable manual of combat tactics, guerilla and otherwise.
posted by loquacious at 8:17 PM on July 16, 2006


Yes. Japanese ones.

Good, just checking. But Japanese tactics weren't just repellent to "western notions" - the Chinese, Malays, and Filipinos thought it was pretty fucked up too.
posted by micketymoc at 8:19 PM on July 16, 2006


Those of you screaming "racism" are missing the point so badly as to be embarrassing.

We were actively trying to kill them by the hundreds of thousands, firebombing their capitol city, and ended up dropping atom bombs on two of their manufacturing centers. You think anyone was even the tiniest bit concerned about their physical depiction via cartoon in an army training pamphlet?

If they had been drawn with gently slanted eyes and carefully cut straight black hair, would it have been any better/worse?

They attacked us and then vowed to fight to the last man. But, I'm sure our cartoon depictions of them brought a strongly worded telegram from the Emperor.

They were our mortal, sworn enemy, and some of you are concerned over them being caricatured in an offensive way?

Absurd.

Don't try to examine history if you can't have a little perspective. Just don't. I promise your delicate sensibilities will be offended at basically every turn. The mid 1800's will possibly drive you into hysterics.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:21 PM on July 16, 2006



I'm sure I don't need to explain why I find this paragraph hilarious.


It works on so many levels. Terrific find.
posted by pokermonk at 8:36 PM on July 16, 2006


What Ynoxas said.

Also, war is hell. No, really. It's pretty much the worst thing on the planet, in reality or concept.

Rape is pretty bad. Child abuse, too. Famine sucks. So does epidemic disease. Getting mugged would be pretty terrible, or even worse, being murdered outright. Racism and bigotry are crap. Hell, even mild verbal abuse is pretty shitty.

But war? War is just one big huge semi-organized clusterfuck of woe - a superset of ultrashittiness containing all of the above and then some and then a whole bunch more.

War is and always will be a failure in creative and critical thinking. A failure of forethought and empathy. A failure of planning and situational awareness. A failure of negotiation, sharing and empathy.

War is a waste of resources, a waste of time, a waste of effort - the worst kind of waste known. It's a scourge, a blight upon all that is good and decent about humanity.

War starves children and leaves them uneducated, unshod and unhoused. It destroys families and friendships. War burns books and destroys art. War rapes all of our collective daughters, sisters and mothers - and turns our sons, brothers and fathers into killers.

War is the cannibalism of humanity itself - the strong feasting on the flesh of the weak and the meek, feasting on our own future.

War is an irremovable mote in God's eye.

And we should let no aspect of history be forgotten or filtered just because it offends us - lest we forget.

On the grand scale of the moral relativism of war, bigoted comics and propaganda are pretty far down on the list of unacceptable sins.
posted by loquacious at 8:39 PM on July 16, 2006 [3 favorites]


"Are you saying that it's okay to dehumanize your enemy simply because he is, indeed, your enemy?"

I'm saying that they were dehumanized by some of their own actions yes. You might also want to read about the Rape of Nanking, which may have been the single worst atrocity of that era as well.

Some parts of the document are no worse than you might see in a Saturday Night Live skit today - a Japanese tourist with a camera?
posted by vronsky at 8:44 PM on July 16, 2006


re the Rape of Nanking

from the history place

Filmed footage and still photographs taken by the Japanese themselves document the brutality. Smiling soldiers can be seen conducting bayonet practice on live prisoners, decapitating them and displaying severed heads as souvenirs, and proudly standing among mutilated corpses. Some of the Chinese POWs were simply mowed down by machine-gun fire while others were tied-up, soaked with gasoline and burned alive.

After the destruction of the POWs, the soldiers turned their attention to the women of Nanking and an outright animalistic hunt ensued. Old women over the age of 70 as well as little girls under the age of 8 were dragged off to be sexually abused. More than 20,000 females (with some estimates as high as 80,000) were gang-raped by Japanese soldiers, then stabbed to death with bayonets or shot so they could never bear witness.

Pregnant women were not spared. In several instances, they were raped, then had their bellies slit open and the fetuses torn out. Sometimes, after storming into a house and encountering a whole family, the Japanese forced Chinese men to rape their own daughters, sons to rape their mothers, and brothers their sisters, while the rest of the family was made to watch.
posted by vronsky at 8:57 PM on July 16, 2006


micketymoc: In my readings on the subject, and it's not always easy to hear, is that in many ways American attrocities in the Pacific Campaign were easily the equal of those committed by the Japanese. The conflict was famously gruesome and dehumanizing on every front. To suggest, as you seem to be, that we needed to descend to some savage level to fight what were essentially savages, is absurd. That is to say, it is not as if Marines slowly descended to a certain level of atrocity because as time went on, that's just false. They started out looking at the Japanese as essentially subhuman.

Which leads me to Ynoxas. I'd be leerly of accusing people of missing a point, when you're neglecting one you could fly a space shuttle through. The "point" isn't simply that war is hell, and all war is essentially dirty, and racism is just one side of it. No, in regards to the Pacific, Racism was a weapon. The Pacific Marines were shown early on that the Japanese were a bloodthirsty madmen devoted to a depraved cult of the emperor predesposed to groupthink and trechery. This idea was reinforced to the point that the fighting during the island hops goes well beyond "war is hell." When you look at your enemies as animals, and the idea is reinforced from the top on down, don't be surprised when you reap the whirlwind and end up with carnage that leaves *everyone's* hands soiled.

And, if it was simply a case of "shit happens in war," then we would expect to find similar atrocities - both in scope and in frequency - in the European Theatre, and we do not. Ear collecting in Italy would, I dare say, not be tolerated. (At least, not among American troops. German/Russian interaction is a whole other story.)
posted by absalom at 9:11 PM on July 16, 2006


(That is not to say that the Japanese were not guilty of equal sins and worse, to torch that strawman before he pops up, only to say that the racism in evidence here from the American side goes beyond simple ignorance or fog-of-war. PsyOps through and through.)
posted by absalom at 9:13 PM on July 16, 2006


sorry micketymoc, didn't notice you had already posted that.
posted by vronsky at 9:31 PM on July 16, 2006


In Japanese culture, losers of wars are (were) held in absolute contempt. To allow onself to lose or one's country to be occupied was to deserve to be treated like pigs. The "permission" to mistreat the enemy, whether civilian or soldier, was quite different from attitudes in the West. Which is not to excuse Allied atrocities, but to put them in their respective contexts.

Conversely, Japanese admired winners, which is why they had a good amount of respect for their American occupiers after the war.
posted by QuietDesperation at 9:32 PM on July 16, 2006


absalom writes -

in many ways American attrocities in the Pacific Campaign were easily the equal of those committed by the Japanese.

source? figures? anything to back this up?
posted by vronsky at 9:33 PM on July 16, 2006


He posted it on the internet, so it must be true.
posted by Justinian at 9:50 PM on July 16, 2006


From page 18:

The Japs have given copious evidence that they regard the Geneva Convention in much the same way as the World War I Germans regarded the Belgian Neutrality Treaty. They're vey anxious for all other nations to abide by it to the letter. But they don't hesitate to violate it when it suits their purpose.

I'd insert an ironic comment here, were it not for the tears.
posted by xthlc at 9:51 PM on July 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Also: After puzzling for a minute or two, I believe the image on page 20 is suggesting that, since women say "Stop! Stop!" when they really want you to rape them, you can try the same tactic in order to get laid.
posted by xthlc at 9:55 PM on July 16, 2006


in many ways American attrocities in the Pacific Campaign were easily the equal of those committed by the Japanese.

I second vronsky. Supporting data, please.

Oh, and while it can be argued that American GIs may have thought the Japanese were inhuman, this attitude never quite translated into wholesale massacre by American rifle and bayonet. On the other hand, you have whole nations that still haven't come to grips with the massive civilian death toll at Japanese hands.

To suggest, as you seem to be, that we needed to descend to some savage level to fight what were essentially savages, is absurd.

I never said any such thing. I simply said that the Japanese caricatures in the document were understandable given the context. Observation does not equal approval.
posted by micketymoc at 9:56 PM on July 16, 2006


They were our mortal, sworn enemy, and some of you are concerned over them being caricatured in an offensive way?

Well, they and their american cousins who we threw into camps. I don't know what else to say, villifying a race of people is wrong because not all of them are evil.
posted by delmoi at 10:16 PM on July 16, 2006


"To suggest, as you seem to be, that we needed to descend to some savage level to fight what were essentially savages, is absurd."

But the point you are missing is that the Japanese were under orders to fight to the death. In normal combat, once a position is taken by force, the enemy will surrender and POWs are taken. Not so here. American GI's were facing an enemy that followed none of the rules or conventions of war, and remember that most had already served in the European campaigns. For them, things had gone from bad to worse. All because of the emperor cult and the foolishness and vanity of the high command and their disregard for the lives of their troops. All of their soldiers lives were only used as cannon fodder to get more favorable conditions for the eventual surrender.
They knew they were beat, they just wanted to hold on to any scrap of power they could. Hundreds of thousands of civilians had already died in the bombing of Japan, way more than the eventual atom bombs, but they still thought they could force the Americans to back down from their demand of unconditional surrender.
posted by vronsky at 10:36 PM on July 16, 2006


but they still thought they could force the Americans to back down from their demand of unconditional surrender.

Which we needed why? I mean aren't the Americans just as culpable for requiring an unconditional surrender? How many lives could have been spared if we'd been willing to settle for something less?
posted by delmoi at 11:03 PM on July 16, 2006


The cartoons from this would make nice tattoos, no? I mean, better than an approximation of a woodcut from the "Gateless Gate."
posted by eegphalanges at 11:10 PM on July 16, 2006


How many lives could have been spared if we'd been willing to settle for something less?

What "something less" did you have in mind? Let the Japanese keep their possessions in the Pacific? A truce situation like with contemporary North/South Korea? Were the Japanese themselves open to any other option apart from total victory?
posted by micketymoc at 11:18 PM on July 16, 2006


What "something less" did you have in mind? Let the Japanese keep their possessions in the Pacific? A truce situation like with contemporary North/South Korea? Were the Japanese themselves open to any other option apart from total victory?

Yes they were. From what I understand they wanted to negotiate and were willing to give up a lot. No one knows what the terms would have been because there was never a negotiation. But it certainly wouldn't have hurt to see what they wanted.

I think their main concern was to keep the emperor on the throne, which we let them do anyways.
posted by delmoi at 12:31 AM on July 17, 2006


A fat lot of good this manual does me now that I've returned from my holiday in Tokyo.

Man, this makes me angry. My impression was that the Japanese people were polite, courteous, and helpful. After reading this manual, it is now clear that I was the gullible victim of Jap treachery.
posted by Davenhill at 12:51 AM on July 17, 2006


Yes they were. From what I understand they wanted to negotiate and were willing to give up a lot.

I'd appreciate some sources here. I'd hate to think that Manila was leveled for nothing.
posted by micketymoc at 12:54 AM on July 17, 2006


That would probably have been disasterous, delmoi. It would have been a situation analogous to Germany after the Great War. Because the Germans were allowed a negotiated peace, they were able to let themselves believe that they were not truly defeated, that they lost only because of a failure of will. Combine that with the harsh and punitive measures leveled against Germany by the Allies and 20 years later you get an even more destructive war.

The USA learned that lesson brilliantly. Forcing an unconditional surrender meant that the Japanese could have no illusions about the war's result; they were utterly defeated. No amount of will or spirit was enough for victory. But after that surrender, the USA was extremely generous and concillatory. We rebuilt Japan from the ground up. And surprise, surprise the USA and Japan became great friends.

World War I: ceasefire in place, negotiated peace, punitive treaty. Disasterous results. World War II: unconditional surrender, magnanimous (western allied) victors. Germany and Japan because great friends and Allies.
posted by Justinian at 12:57 AM on July 17, 2006


vronsky: Read War Without Mercy, which I believe I suggested above. Sorry if I don't have a hyperlink for ya'll. You're just going to have to read a book, I guess.

Seriously, sorry guys, but all most information I have on the subject came from monographs and articles I read while persuing my MA on the subject, not from the internet.

Also, Delmoi has a point about the Japanese mainly wanting to retain the emperor. The Japanese *people* were more than ready for the war to end, even if the Japanese officer corps were not.
posted by absalom at 5:03 AM on July 17, 2006


The Japanese *people* were more than ready for the war to end, even if the Japanese officer corps were not.

Don't suppose you've got any links to support this?
posted by the cuban at 5:17 AM on July 17, 2006


Are you saying that it's okay to dehumanize your enemy simply because he is, indeed, your enemy?

It must be nice to be that naively idealistic. Keep catchin' 'em in the rye!

And what loquacious so eloquently said.

Great post. Thanks, fake, jonson, and guruguy9.
posted by languagehat at 5:55 AM on July 17, 2006


Are you saying that it's okay to dehumanize your enemy simply because he is, indeed, your enemy?

Yes. Yes, it's okay. It's more than okay, it's probably absolutely necessary -- because human beings, contrary to cynical opinion, don't like to kill other human beings.

It becomes much easier when the people you're killing aren't really human, if you follow me.

(language hat already covered this, but I figured I'd chime in)
posted by illovich at 7:01 AM on July 17, 2006


The Japanese *people* were more than ready for the war to end, even if the Japanese officer corps were not.

Too bad the Japanese people were not in control of the government, nor in a place to decide if and when to end the war.

I'll look into the book suggested about American war atrocities in the Pacific, but unless you count the fire bombing of cities by American bombers, the number and size of atrocities by Americans most certainly pale in number and cannot really be compared to the actions of the Imperial Army of Japan.
posted by Atreides at 8:36 AM on July 17, 2006


All right, looked into "War without Mercy" by John Dower, who is an accomplished scholar of Japanese history (see "Embracing Defeat"). I've read his first book and found it very fascinating and well written.

I perused Amazon.com reviews, then two scholarly reviews of the work. It seems that the role of American atrocities is over stated in the presentation of the book in this thread. The majority of the book deals with the racial element of the war, basically saying that the United States made it a war fueled by racism, that became more bitter and torrent as news of real and false Japanese atrocities reached States side. Such as the execution of pilots from Dolittle's Raid, the Bataan Death March, etc.

As for actual American atrocities, they appear to make up only a small portion of the work, and seem to be mostly regarded to the practice of taking no quarter and body mutilation (i.e. taking gold teeth, body parts) from the Japanese dead. He also mentions the Japanese-American internment camps in the United States. I'm at a lost, however, to see how whats described in the book matches up against the known brutality of the Japanese soldiers.
posted by Atreides at 8:46 AM on July 17, 2006



The Japanese *people* were more than ready for the war to end, even if the Japanese officer corps were not.

Don't suppose you've got any links to support this?

you might compare what happened in japan after the invasion to what's happening in iraq now ...

japan = the people submitted

iraq = all hell broke loose
posted by pyramid termite at 9:41 AM on July 17, 2006


I fail to see how it is about "race".

Germans are white, and there was PLENTY of what we would today call offensive cartoons, posters, radio broadcasts, and general discussion about them. Hitler, specifically, was lampooned on a regular basis by everyone from the Picayune Weekly Shopper to the Three Stooges.

You know what? I don't give a shit. The Germans of that era were practicing genocide. They *WERE* animals, and deserved to be treated as such. I personally think that every soldier involved, even tangentially, in the extermination camps should have been executed for war crimes. Not just the officers, but from the commander down to the cook, to the guy who cleaned out the crematoriums.

Same goes for the Japanese. They were part of a cult of personality surrounding Hirohito, and were definitely not to be trusted or given any consideration or latitude. They treated their fellow asians in a matter that is nearly unthinkable. Death was too good for them.

I don't believe for a minute that American GI's were all perfect choirboys and never committed a lewd or evil act, but it was not institutionalized from the top down, and completely permeating the entire CIVILIZATION like it did in Japan and Germany.

In that era, they were Japs and Krauts, not because Americans were racist, (which they were, duh) but because the Axis were evil motherfuckers. And I would *NEVER* presume to question the motivations or coping mechanisms of those involved at the time.

The Pacific Marines were shown early on that the Japanese were a bloodthirsty madmen devoted to a depraved cult of the emperor predesposed to groupthink and trechery.

Are you denying that was the case? I'm not snarking, it is an honest question. Are you suggesting that the island fighting in the Pacific was not among the most heinous men have ever engaged in due to the Japanese entrenchment and fanatical devotion?

They WERE treacherous. They WERE fanatical. War IS hell.

Also, what illovich and languagehat said.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:11 AM on July 17, 2006


The Japanese *people* were more than ready for the war to end, even if the Japanese officer corps were not.

Fat lot of good that did us. The point is moot, considering the social and political structure of Japan at the time.

in many ways American attrocities in the Pacific Campaign were easily the equal of those committed by the Japanese.

In what way were they "equal"? Do we, say, find equivalent instances of civilian mass murder by American troops in Singapore? GIs attacking helpless hospital patients? Kansas boys catching babies with their bayonets? The Japanese committed these atrocities on a wide scale throughout Southeast Asia; these are fairly well documented. I'm curious, absalom; how did your MA research materials square that with the relatively benign American and British presence before and throughout the war?

Look at the facts, not from the point of view of the soldiers, but from the point of view of the residents - the Malayans, the Filipinos, the Chinese. Would you say the Americans were equally atrocious to their subject peoples? Given the actual record of events, your "easily the equal" quote to me seems not only inaccurate, but insulting to those who had to live through the Japanese occupation.
posted by micketymoc at 11:13 PM on July 17, 2006


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