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How can I learn Japanese and its culture when I think about WW2?

Muz1234

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I keep thinking about what Japan did in WW2, and I like studying Japanese. However, whenever I study Japanese, I just keep thinking of what Japan did in WW2? How do you solve this mentality and attitude of thinking of the past?
 
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What... ? Do you think only of the things Great Britain did in their imperial conquest during the colonial era when you study English?

I mean, there are still a very few people alive who served during WWII, but none of them were old enough to be responsible for any important decisions, and in any case, you are highly unlikely to ever meet or interact with such a person. There may be a few very elderly men who were very young soldiers who will have wartime artifacts returned to them on Hiroshima day in the next few years; such ceremonial returns are of course meant to be a sign of reconciliation and a hope for future peace.

However, the remaining survivors of WWII were almost all children at the time and are elderly now. Those survivors didn't do anything harmful to anyone -- they themselves are survivors of famines, bombing, and in some cases, of nuclear bombs.

For all practical purposes, the people of Japan today have nothing directly to do with WWII, and it will not be so very many years before there is no one living who remembers it at all.

That said, there is a great deal of Japanese literature and cinema that addresses WWII. If you are so very pre-occupied with WWII, then at least know that you can learn about an entirely different side of the events of the period.
 
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Uncle Frank

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I think when you go back to the 1940's and during times of war , the way people acted and thought have changed somewhat. The people living today , for the most part , should not be judged as evil on what their fathers and grandfathers did. My dad and many of his friends fought against the Japanese in WWII and I heard many horror stories from them about the Japanese. When I joined the US Navy and got orders to go live in Japan , I was a bit worried. My 2 years living in Fukuoka were 2 of the best years of my life. The people I met were really nice and WWII seemed like it happened 100 years before I was there. I think the only time I even got a dirty look was at the Atomic museum in Nagasaki with a lot of exhibits about the US dropping the 2 atomic bombs. I don't think we should forget history , but my personal feelings are that we should not judge a people or country on evil events that took place long ago. Most countries have some history of horrible events in their past if you look into detailed history about them.
 

Muz1234

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What... ? Do you think only of the things Great Britain did in their imperial conquest during the colonial era when you study English?

I mean, there are still a very few people alive who served during WWII, but none of them were old enough to be responsible for any important decisions, and in any case, you are highly unlikely to ever meet or interact with such a person. There may be a few very elderly men who were very young soldiers who will have wartime artifacts returned to them on Hiroshima day in the next few years; such ceremonial returns are of course meant to be a sign of reconciliation and a hope for future peace.

However, the remaining survivors of WWII were almost all children at the time and are elderly now. Those survivors didn't do anything harmful to anyone -- they themselves are survivors of famines, bombing, and in some cases, of nuclear bombs.

For all practical purposes, the people of Japan today have nothing directly to do with WWII, and it will not be so very many years before there is no one living who remembers it at all.

That said, there is a great deal of Japanese literature and cinema that addresses WWII. If you are so very pre-occupied with WWII, then at least know that you can learn about an entirely different side of the events of the period.
Britain was an evil empire?
 
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Britain was an evil empire?

It was an empire, certainly, and empires are built through conquest and maintained through repression. I don't suppose they were really any worse than any other empire in history, but they weren't any better either. They have plenty of blood on their hands, both from actual violence and from policies that allowed wealthy British citizens and companies to profit while subjugated peoples starved.


That said, as an American of Irish descent, I don't hold either the events of and leading to the American revolution or the callous handling of the Irish potato famine against the present day government of Britain, and I don't hold those events against the British people of any time. (Those are perhaps not the worst thing the British Empire ever did, but they are the ones that directly affected my ancestors.)

The governments responsible have long since been replaced, and the ordinary people were never responsible. The same can be said of Japan, or any other imperial power when talking about the events of WWII or any earlier period.
 
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Glenski

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So, are your flashing images of Japan limited to how they bombed Pearl Harbor and had comfort women from Korea? Just remember when those pop into your head how the U.S. dropped 2 atomic bombs on the country! Not saying it was good or bad, just that Japan was not the only aggressor.

When you study the language, perhaps it would help if you also read a bit more extensively about the culture here, whether that's old or modern, music or art or fashion or literature. No country is perfect, but consider why you are studying Japanese in the first place, and go beyond grammar and vocabulary.
 
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TGI-ECT

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Glenski, the use of the atomic weaponry at that time saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Or more. The Japanese elite had the lower classes fully geared toward total conflict and taking the islands would have been a foot-by-foot endeavor in the larger cities, and a mile-by-mile (km) endeavor out in the countryside and smaller towns.

Of course, you could change my view of that matter if you could provide me with specific information about who in the upper tier of the governing elite in Japan were discussing amongst themselves how to change the thinking of the lower classes doing all the fighting and dying that maybe the horrid Americans and British and Russians were not animals that deserved to die because they wanted the conflict to come to an end. I'll be very happy to study what you can provide, but that probably requires a new topic/thread. Unfortunately, at this writing all my studies point to the use of that atomic weapon as saving a whole bunch of lives on all sides.

NOTE: You might be so crafty with your use of language as to disguise your true intent when you wrote about you are not stating whether it was either good or bad, BUT it clearly appears you are making a statement that it was a bad decision by President Truman. I give you credit for excellent language usage, thus draw my conclusion that you are purposely using a very thin curtain of words to hide your true feelings on that decision by the United States executive branch to authorize the use of that weapon.

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Next:

Muz1234, is there a possibility that certain matters that arose in your own nation back then has left a kind of burden upon your view of the nation of Japan?

SomeCallMeChris was quite correct in making the point that really bad stuff has been done over the years by the British folks, but the British folks aren't the only ones that can be placed into the category of doing bad stuff over the years. If you want to cease studying about other peoples in other nations because their parents, grandparents, or further back did bad things — well, have your own people in past years been so super nice and so cool and never did anything bad?
 

mdchachi

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Glenski, the use of the atomic weaponry at that time saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Or more. The Japanese elite had the lower classes fully geared toward total conflict and taking the islands would have been a foot-by-foot endeavor in the larger cities, and a mile-by-mile (km) endeavor out in the countryside and smaller towns.

Of course, you could change my view of that matter if you could provide me with specific information about who in the upper tier of the governing elite in Japan were discussing amongst themselves how to change the thinking of the lower classes doing all the fighting and dying that maybe the horrid Americans and British and Russians were not animals that deserved to die because they wanted the conflict to come to an end. I'll be very happy to study what you can provide, but that probably requires a new topic/thread. Unfortunately, at this writing all my studies point to the use of that atomic weapon as saving a whole bunch of lives on all sides.

NOTE: You might be so crafty with your use of language as to disguise your true intent when you wrote about you are not stating whether it was either good or bad, BUT it clearly appears you are making a statement that it was a bad decision by President Truman. I give you credit for excellent language usage, thus draw my conclusion that you are purposely using a very thin curtain of words to hide your true feelings on that decision by the United States executive branch to authorize the use of that weapon.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Next:

Muz1234, is there a possibility that certain matters that arose in your own nation back then has left a kind of burden upon your view of the nation of Japan?

SomeCallMeChris was quite correct in making the point that really bad stuff has been done over the years by the British folks, but the British folks aren't the only ones that can be placed into the category of doing bad stuff over the years. If you want to cease studying about other peoples in other nations because their parents, grandparents, or further back did bad things — well, have your own people in past years been so super nice and so cool and never did anything bad?
Assuming your viewpoint is correct that still doesn’t justify dropping the second bomb in Nagasaki.
 
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