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This just in: Japan free from blame!

Shibuyaexpat

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Walking along the neon-drenched, post-Modern streets that snake in and out of Tokyo's trendiest districts, it's sometimes hard to believe that vast portions of this city were once destroyed by U.S. bombings during World War II. It was 60 years today (plus a couple of days) that American planes, under the leadership of General Curtis E. Lemay, launched the Great Tokyo Bombing campaign. It is unfathomable to person born into relative safe surroundings to imagine the sheer number of dead.

And though I feel to a small degree--whether through some quasi-sense of heritage (Korean descent) or cosmic justice--that Japan "got what it deserved," the better part of me, the part of me that embraces my mother's compassion, can't help but to feel complete sympathy and sorrow for all those who lost their loved ones during that time. I look around and think how horrible it would be to one day find that the nice old lady at my favorite flower shop who always greets me by grasping both my handsand and her entire family, her shop and the entire city block destroyed. How would I react to find the school yard filled with children on my way to work was now a hollowed out crater, dotted with a random notebook or schoolbag? Even in this simple practice, tears well up. Bombings (whichever form they take) affect real human beings not numeric values that rise as the survivors pick through the rubble of a shattered silence.

So it was with a sense of sorrow that I read a piece in last Sunday's Japan Times by MASARU FUJIMOTO about the career of Gen. Lemay or more specifically, the absence of any compassion for those Chinese civilians who died during Japan's bombing campaigns in the early 1930s. (http://www.japantimes.com/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?fl20050313x2.htm) Are they not entitled to share the same descriptors that Mr. Masaru Fujimoto uses for their Japanese counterparts: carnage, fleeing civilians, mass killings? Was their suffering any less?

Normally, I would not dive into such a diatribe but a recent trip to Hiroshima, anecdotal commentary from local residents and view points expressed by some colleagues, have me wondering if Japan feels compassion for war victims outside of Japan.

What do you think?
 

Timsan

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The bombing of Japan by no means compared to the savage brutality of Nanking.

Chinese civilians were used for bayonet practice, pregnant woman not excluded. Millions of women raped and tortured. There was one specifically horifying account on the history channel given by a Japanese soldier, who after taking a woman and her baby prisoner began to march them to a nearby town, they did not want the burdeon of the baby so a Japanese soldier grabbed it and threw it over a cliff, the woman whent over after it.

War is uncivilized in general, but I do believe that there was a dichotemy between good and evil, right and wrong, and bombing Japan was the right thing to do because by destroying the countries morale, possibly prevented millions of deaths.

It is unfair that a countries people must suffer the consequences for the actions of government: school children, doctors, teachers, civilians. But unfortunately there was no peaceful means to amicably end the war.
 

Leroy_Brown

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To quote from C.W. Nicol's "Moving Zen," the grandfather of the Japanese wife of an Englishman gives an explanation of a make-shift grave in Tokyo:

"One of us comes here [to the American bomber plane crash site] everyday, usually Grandmother. [The crew] all died in the explosion, and our house and that house over there were damaged by the blast. We found them"--he made a face--"and we made their grave there." He shrugged his shoulders and added, almost apologetically, "It was the best we could do." I looked around at this simple little garden, sitting now on land which was immensely valuable to the land hungry speculators of greater Tokyo. I nodded, and mumbled thanks, for I did not know what to say.

"What does the character on the stone mean?" I asked my wife.

"Peace," she answered. "They did not know the names of the Americans who died. You know, they did this before the war had finished; the Americans were still our enemies then."

There are Japanes who don't care about what happened outside of Japan, while there are those who don't. It's very difficult to say "does Japan feel guilty."

Ask any American if she/he feels any guilt or compassion for the Indians whose land was usurped and never returned.
 

bossel

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Timsan said:
The bombing of Japan by no means compared to the savage brutality of Nanking.

Chinese civilians were used for bayonet practice, pregnant woman not excluded. Millions of women raped and tortured. There was one specifically horifying account on the history channel given by a Japanese soldier, who after taking a woman and her baby prisoner began to march them to a nearby town, they did not want the burdeon of the baby so a Japanese soldier grabbed it and threw it over a cliff, the woman whent over after it.
Wait a moment! Are you really saying it is worse for a child being thrown off a cliff than being burnt alive? You're not serious, are you?

The only real difference is that in the one case an individual soldier can be held responsible (additionally to the commanders who condoned, allowed or even ordered that behaviour), while in the other case the killing is collectively done without being able to connect individual perpetrator to victim (which doesn't take away the responsibility of commanding officers & in many cases even of bomber crews).

Coming back to the original post, I'd say that there is no problem to recognise that many Japanese also were (innocent) victims of the war. The problem is that seemingly many Japanese only see their side of the story while they ignore the suffering the Japanese army caused in half of Asia.
 

Leroy_Brown

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bossel said:
The problem is that seemingly many Japanese only see their side of the story while they ignore the suffering the Japanese army caused in half of Asia.

Can you claim that the Germans aren't any different about what the Nazis did?
 

Shibuyaexpat

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bossel said:
Coming back to the original post, I'd say that there is no problem to recognise that many Japanese also were (innocent) victims of the war. The problem is that seemingly many Japanese only see their side of the story while they ignore the suffering the Japanese army caused in half of Asia.
This is my concern as well. When I went to Hiroshima to see the Peace Memorial, I walked away very disappointed and somewhat irritated by the "Woe is Japan" theme. The suffering caused by the Japanese was relegated to a few sentences here and there and only in passing. For me, it boils down to this: I'm finding it harder and harder to feel compassion for Japanese suffering during the War because so little compassion is demonstrated for those outside of Japan. It gets worse when the common response I hear is that Japan is providing millions, if not billions, of dollars in aid to those foreign countries. Human suffering should be addressed with human compassion, not the cold, steely transaction of a business deal.
 

Shibuyaexpat

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Leroy_Brown said:
Can you claim that the Germans aren't any different about what the Nazis did?
Not having ever lived in Germany, but having many friends who do, I am told that modern Germans are very well-aware of Germany's role during WWII. I was also told that it is illegal to alter history books to provide a revisionist version of history, unlike modern day Japan where politicians and educational boards are frequently reported to either interject their "Japan as Savior of Asia" theme on topics like the Nanjing Massacre (not Incident) and comfort women or stop publications of books that provide information that the rest of the world seems to agree on. Of course, there are fringe, ultra-nationalists in every country, but it seems that in Japan, they rule the gov't. How else can we explain the re-election of the esteemed, most venerable and obviously global minded Mr. Shintaro Ishihara.
 

Leroy_Brown

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Shibuyaexpat said:
This is my concern as well. When I went to Hiroshima to see the Peace Memorial, I walked away very disappointed and somewhat irritated by the "Woe is Japan" theme.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is just what it is. It's not a Nanking Peace Memorial or Korea Peace Memorial.

The 200,000 or so people who died in Hiroshima were innocent civilians who had nothing ever to do with the atrocities that the imperial Japanese military did. And they still are not responsible for anything the current Japanese government does or refuses to do.

I don't think it's unreasonable if you went to the Auschwitz and walked away feeling compassion for the millions of Jews who perished there. Similarly, if you went to the Hiroshima Memorial, what were you expecting? People in attendance were thinking about the victims of the atom bomb.
 
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Shibuyaexpat

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Leroy_Brown said:
I don't think it's unreasonable if you went to the Auschwitz and walked away feeling compassion for the millions of Jews who perished there. Similarly, if you went to the Hiroshima Memorial, what were you expecting? People in attendance were thinking about the victims of the atom bomb.

Yes, that's my point. Where is the tacit and regretful acknowledgement of the thousands of Koreans forcibly brought to Hiroshima (who also perished when the bomb landed) during the colonial rule to provide slave labor for the Japanese War machine?

Do you think that Hiroshima was just an ordinary town and that American forces chose it as one of the primary targets on whim? Hiroshima was the major industrial city and launching point for campaigns throughout Asia. Children divided their days in school and in factories, making weapons. Are they innocent? Yes, in that they are ordinary citizens dutifully following the mandate of their leader.

Listen, I'm not saying that Japan should not have memorials for their dead. I'm just saying it would a lot easier to sympathize if they acknowledged their own part in the war, rather than trying to either buy forgiveness or alter historical references. This frustration is compounded by the fact that throughout the Park grounds, there are petitions to sue the American government for use of the bomb. As a direct descendent of someone who faced terrible atrocities committed by the Japanese army, it was the ultimate slap in the face!
 

Leroy_Brown

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You could also go to China and ask anyone "Where is the tacit and regretful acknowledgement" for the Tibetans who were massacred when China invaded and annexed Tibet. Or go to Washington D.C. and ask "Where is the tacit and regretful acknowledgement" for the American Indians whose land was usurped and never returned. What if all current non-Indian Americans were told to go back to where their ancestors came from because this land is being returned to the Indians? Would you go?

Would you like to give up $5,000 to be allocated to poor black families as a "reparation" for the unpaid work that their ancestors performed as slaves?

I assume your answer would be "no" in both situations. Simply because you had nothing to do with the atrocities committed by Americans in the past.

So, why would you expect the Japanese who were born after 1945 to go through each and every day feeling full of guilt and sorrow for the atrocities they had nothing to do with. Maybe they should feel compassion, sure, but how often do you feel compassion for the Indians, Tibetans, or the black slaves.

FInally, the Hiroshima Memorial is also a reminder for the world that nuclear war needs to be avoided. FOr countries that still have nuclear arms, which Japan does not.
 

bossel

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Leroy_Brown said:
Can you claim that the Germans aren't any different about what the Nazis did?
I can't say that I understood your question properly, hence I won't answer directly.

Additionally to what Shibuyaexpat wrote, though, I can say that it is quite a problem in Germany to even mention that Germans were victims, too. This has become a bit less of a problem in recent years, but on every occasion that German victims are remembered it is obviously necessary to proclaim...

that Germans were the main perpetrators in WWII
that Nazi Germany killed 6m Jews
that Germans only became victims because they initiated the war
that German atrocities were much more apalling than what the allies did
a.s.o.

If you don't do this emphatically enough you are very easily put in the far right corner of the political spectrum.


As this is a bit overdone in Germany, it seems that it is a bit neglected in Japan. I wouldn't say that you should put any blame on the post-war generations, but the reasons (Japan started the war & was guilty of massive atrocities) & dimension (how many people suffered on both sides) should be remembered & openly acknowledged.
 

Shibuyaexpat

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While I can't speak for China (considering I have never lived there or directly benefitted in any way from its policies), here's a link to some museums and monuments for Native Americans in the United States: (http://www.nmculture.org/cgi-bin/instview.cgi?_cat=Native+American&_ext=+Museums+and+Monuments). Also, ever hear of the Bureau of Indian Affairs? While not perfect in addressing all Native American issues, the U.S. gov't has a dedicated office to address their needs. Additionally, most all national univerisities offer Native American studies, as well as African American studies, as a part of the history departments. Are they enough? Probably not, but at least Americans aren't trying to refute that it happened by quibbling over exactly how many people were massacred at Wounded Knee. And the mere fact that you and I both know (maybe not the full extent) what happened during the slavery years, is a testament to our education system not blatantly turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the American gov't and elite citizens.

Leroy_Brown said:
So, why would you expect the Japanese who were born after 1945 to go through each and every day feeling full of guilt and sorrow for the atrocities they had nothing to do with. Maybe they should feel compassion, sure, but how often do you feel compassion for the Indians, Tibetans, or the black slaves.

Each and every day? Of course not. I'm simply talking about acknowledgment. If the gov't simply said, yes, our country did those horrible things in the past, but we are doing and have done many things since then to hopefully address them, then I would be perfectly fine with it. Rather, you hear the governor of Tokyo making claims that Japan was the Savior of Asia before WWII (they were rescuing other Asian countries from the imperialistic West) or ministry of education officials blocking text books for schools that reference comfort women or Nanjing. And this has a direct relation to how everyday citizens view Japan's role in the past.

Leroy_Brown said:
FInally, the Hiroshima Memorial is also a reminder for the world that nuclear war needs to be avoided. FOr countries that still have nuclear arms, which Japan does not.
Yes and no. Yes, it's a reminder of the horror of nuclear war, but it's also a protrayal of Japan as victims of the war, rather than aggressor. As I stated before, Hiroshima was THE major industrial city for manufacturing the machinery of war. it wasn't some seaside resort area where people were vacationing by the shores.
 

mad pierrot

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I think there are two seperate points here being confused, so I'll take this in 2 parts.

1. Obviously many Japanese people died in WWII, so of course many people will want to remember their loved ones who died. There is nothing wrong with this. People should be allowed to grieve.

This is my concern as well. When I went to Hiroshima to see the Peace Memorial, I walked away very disappointed and somewhat irritated by the "Woe is Japan" theme.

L. Brown is right on the money. Yes, Japan committed many attrocities, but that doesn't mean it forefits its right to lament its own loss of life.

2.Japan clearly has some issues about not being very straight forward about its past. Believe me, I know.

Take a look at the link below, this topic is covered very well.

What are Japanese children taught about WW2?

Anyways, that's my 2 cents.
 

senseiman

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Another point I'd like to add is that there IS a monument to the Koreans who died in the atomic attack on Hiroshima. Its in the peace memorial park, not far from ground zero.

I really think it is ludicrous to be criticizing Hiroshima for not better recognizing the victims of Japanese atrocities in their museum or peace park. The Hiroshima city government (which runs these facilities) had absolutely nothing to do with Japanese atrocities commited thousands of miles away. If you go to the Pearl Harbour memorial in Hawaii you aren't going to find any lamentings over the fate of Japanese victims of American firebombing either, nor should you. The Hiroshima peace park presents the horrific experiences of Hiroshima's victims of war because it is the HIROSHIMA peace memorial park. End of story.

I don't understand the criticism of the writer of the Japan Times article either. Curtis Lemay was a homocidal maniac who in addition to delighting in the butchering of hundreds of thousands of innocent people by his orders very nearly brought all of humanity to an end during the Cuban missile crisis. The article offered what, IMHO was an excellent and accurate portrayal of the man and as far as I can see the only objection that has been raised about it is that the author was Japanese. This is somewhat of a racist basis upon which to attack the article and it makes little sense to me seeing as how most of LeMay's victims were Japanese so naturally Japanese people would have an interest in him.

The point about Japan not recognizing its own wrongdoings is valid, but that point can also be raised with equal legitimacy against any number of countries, including the United States.
 

TheKansaiKid

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I hate to sound cold

but all this talk abou Nazi's, Imperialist Japanese, and the westward moving native american killing Americans, seems a bit overdramatized to me. I genuinely feel compassion for all the victims of the above mentioned victims. That being said we (by we I mean the entire human race) have been commiting atrocities in the name of god, emperor, and just the hell of it for century on century. Maybe instead of trying to assign blame and decide who was worst of the bad we should be trying to see that it isn't happening now in places where we can maybe stop it. I am much more interested in hearing what our governments should be doing to stop modern day genocide then trying to figure out which government did the worse things 30 years before I was born.

Just my oppinion.

I could be wrong.
 

Leroy_Brown

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TheKansaiKid said:
I could be wrong.

No, sir, you're not. You are absolutely, unequivocaly right.

There are plenty of "I hate Japan" forums out there.
Keep this one for learning and enjoyment.
 

senseiman

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Shibuyaexpat said:
Yes, that's my point. Where is the tacit and regretful acknowledgement of the thousands of Koreans forcibly brought to Hiroshima (who also perished when the bomb landed) during the colonial rule to provide slave labor for the Japanese War machine?

There is a monument to the Koreans killed in Hiroshima peace park.

Shibuyaexpat said:
Do you think that Hiroshima was just an ordinary town and that American forces chose it as one of the primary targets on whim? Hiroshima was the major industrial city and launching point for campaigns throughout Asia. Children divided their days in school and in factories, making weapons. Are they innocent? Yes, in that they are ordinary citizens dutifully following the mandate of their leader.

As far as I know the children of Hiroshima were not involved in making weapons in factories. Most young children had been evacuated from the cities and the older ones who stayed were in the process of clearing streets as a fire prevention measure when the bomb struck.

Hiroshima wasn't a major military centre, there was just a regimental headquarters on the site of Hiroshima castle, quite insignificant in military terms. THe bomb didn't specifically target the cities industrial or port facilities either, it was dropped directly over the downtown area where it could inflict the most damage on the civilian population.

shibuyaexpat said:
Listen, I'm not saying that Japan should not have memorials for their dead. I'm just saying it would a lot easier to sympathize if they acknowledged their own part in the war, rather than trying to either buy forgiveness or alter historical references.

Japan has acknowledged its wartime past a hell of a lot better than most countries. US atrocities in Vietnam were much more severe than those Japan inflicted on Korea, but no US president has ever apologized nor has the US government given economic aid in compensation. The fact that Japan has gone sixty years without becoming involved in a war whereas most of the western powers who defeated Japan have waged numerous unjust and bloody wars tells me Japan learned the lessons of WW2 better than most.

shibuyaexpat said:
This frustration is compounded by the fact that throughout the Park grounds, there are petitions to sue the American government for use of the bomb. As a direct descendent of someone who faced terrible atrocities committed by the Japanese army, it was the ultimate slap in the face!

What exactly is wrong with that? Numerous Chinese and Korean victims of Japanese atrocities (comfort women, forced laborers, etc) have sued the Japanese government for compensation, some succesfully. So why shouldn't victims of American atrocities be afforded the same privilege?
 

MajideSaiaku

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that Germans were the main perpetrators in WWII
that Nazi Germany killed 6m Jews
that Germans only became victims because they initiated the war
that German atrocities were much more apalling than what the allies did
a.s.o.

we also have to remember though, a regime doesnt speak for all the people of a country, being a german living in germany durring WW2 was no different then say being french and living in occupied france, you still had to be careful not to be caught questioning hitler and the nazi's, its the same as saddams iraq, just because you were an iraqi didnt mean you couldnt be imprisoned for questioning saddams beneficial rule =/.

hiroshima is a memorial to the dead of the only atomic attack on a city in human history, it is a memorial to the dead of hiroshima, nothing more, nothing less, to expect it to be a heartfelt apology to the world for ww2 japans evils is naive.

i wouldnt like to be made to feel bad and guilty for something i wasnt involved in, so i wouldnt expect germans to grovel for my forgivness, because they wernt the ones who bombed my countries cities ,and i wasnt alive to witness it.

wars are fought by people, dont mistake the continuation of a nation as the same people who fought the war.

in war both sides are fought by people....just people, not demons, not evil black hearted villians, apart from leadership, a war is simply fought by people following their leaders.

both sides suffered and both sides have their respective war memorials, and botth sides to varying degree's have apologised for them.

just remember, that japanese soldier who threw a baby over a cliff is no different then an american soldier who shot german wounded for no other reason then his own lack of moral's.

wars are terrible things and both sides are degraded and both sides have things to be ashamed about, blame isnt important anymore, whats important is to remember the victims of the war, and move on, and put it behind.

the worlds a different place since 1945, and different people inhabit it, just remember that next time you think of japan as the enemy who did your country wrong.
 

Hiroshi66

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Japan was very responsible for what it did in the 1930s and the 1940s. Japan was responsible for the massacres in Seoul, Nanjing, Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta, and the famines in Hanoi, Taipei, and Kuala Lampur. However, let's say Japan apologized for what happened in Nanjing. It declared that the innocent civilians who died in the fire bombs in Tokyo and the nuclear holocausts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were killed because of its mistakes and that being burnt alive was a better fate than bayonet practice. Let's say this happened. China and the Korean Republic were happy.

But is this fair? The PRC demands an apology for Nanjing. True, what happened in Nanjing was brutal, horrible, and disgusting. But: what about the million Han Chinese, Manchu, and Tibetians mercillesly (sp?) killed by the communist regime? That had nothing to do with Japan, so why isn't the PRC practicing what it preaches? They demand Koizumi not go to Yasukuni because it honors Tojo who killed innocent Chinese. Well, then why are there statues of Mao in Beijing? I thought he had killed innocent Chinese too. So why are they being hypocritical?

The US: fine, their air raids against Japan were for a reason. But what did those innocent Japanese have to do with the war effort? True, what did those innocent Chinese in Nanjing have to do with the war effort, but just by doing that, our army was stooping down to the level of the military in Nanjing. There was no apology. Also, Korean and Taiwanese cities were bombed by our air force. Why? Taiwan and Korea were under Japanese occupation, why did they have to be under attack? No apology. Hypocricy.

Japan is very guility in World War II. But if they are to be accused of war crimes, the countries accusing them should take a look at their history first and then accuse other countries.
 

lv426

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I think the moment you rashinalise killing people, you lose the humanity. I dont realy know much about what japan did in the war because we were only taught about what germany, but for years I had this idear that germans in general were some sort of evil country. Then multinational school and met tons of germans, one who is now a good friend of mine. He often says that he thinks its unfair that people always go on about the war, he views it as something in the past and unfair that it is a stigma asociated with something he was not even alive for.

So I would argue that its all very well to remember what happened, especialy for thouse involved but we should not asociate with people now as most of them had nothing to do with it. As for saying for instance that there were many atrocitys caused by both the japanese and germans, there were also many done by the Americans and English. For example the bombing of both London and Berlin, more recently there has been the bombing of civilians by Americans in Iraq and toucher done by both the US and England. Just because this has happend does not mean that every American or Englishman is like that, simarly not every Iraqy is bad not matter what the media will have us belive.

Sufice to say I'm against any war and violence, can you rashinolise Hiroshima, it stoped the Japanese, yes. But you can change the fact that you bombed Civilians, remember what 9/11 or the London bombings were like. Just one more thing, I think both England and America can be held acuntible for things, Vietnam, the Falkland islands so on. Sorry to mention America so many times, a little unfair but I guess your kinda the easy target at the moment as your so politicaly involved. That just my two pence, arnt politics fun... Yaya, sorry if anything was wrong, as I said I dont know that much about Japan during the war.
 

popular front

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wow, well i guess this thread is kinda spent. but i enjoyed reading all of the post. i have a feeling that i am going to like this site.
 

Hiroshi66

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Both sides were responsible. German bombings of London were similar to British bombings of Berlin. In a way Pearl Harbor was similar to Hiroshima. Both expected air raids but were met with different weapons.
 

Leroy_Brown

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Hiroshi66 said:
Both sides were responsible. German bombings of London were similar to British bombings of Berlin. In a way Pearl Harbor was similar to Hiroshima. Both expected air raids but were met with different weapons.


Yes, but I didn't like the 9/11 attack on WTC being referred to as a "Kamikaze Attack" on the news. 9/11 was a terrorist attack designed to kill innocent civilians. Kamikaze pilots never did that. I have a friend whose daughter went to kindergarten after the attacks and some boys were saying it was the Japanese who attacked the WTC. Dumb brats.
 
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