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7 corrections, most recently by stanj - Show corrections

IT IS BUSHIDO TO

TORTURE THE SICK

P O W's Saw Japanese Indulge Their Lust For Sadism In A Host of Devilish Practices

By ROHAN D. RIVETT, formerly of THE ARGUS, who was sole British war

correspondent among the prisoners in Burma and Siam, and who has just returned after three and a half years in the hands of the Japanese.

The Chinese had a saying about Japan which is centuries old, but never truer than today, "Japan, the land of flowers without smell, birds without song, women without virtue, and men without honour." The pri- soners in Malaya, Java, Burma, and Siam can certify only to the last of these, but they have acquired pain- fully, but unforgettably, a series of other impressions which should be set down for the guidance of those now administering Japanese affairs under General MacArthur.

There is no vanity like the vanity of the Japanese, officer. In victory in 1942 it was incredible, in defeat in 1945, it was ludicrous to the point

of tears.

Addressing 10,000 prisoners under his command in Burma at the end of 1942— an "Oration of welcome''   which was delivered on each occa- sion when new batches of prison- ers arrived to work on the railroad Colonel Y. Nagotomo said:

"You are all only a few remaining skeletons after the invasion of East Asia for the last few centuries and are pitiful victims, It is not your fault, but till your Government do not wake up (sic) from the dreams and discontinue their resistance all of you will not be released. . . . The Emperor's thoughts are unestimable, and the Imperial favours are infinite, and as such you should weep with gratitude at the greatness of them, and should correct or mend the mis- leading and improper anti-Japanese ideas. ... I shall strictly manage all of you. . . . Living manners, deport- ment, salutation, and attitude shall be strict, and according to the rules of the Nippon Army, because it is only possible to manage you all, who are merely rabbles, by the order of military regulation."

But Nagotomo was only one among many. To watch some little monkey of a lieutenant, standing on a box in order to be able to see past the heads of the first ranks of the par- ade from which he was taking a pro- longed salute, was always comic, but at the end, when we knew from our secret radios that Japan was being slowly annihilated, it became pathe- tic. Listening to the many bombas- tic, overweening, and fantastic ut- terances made to prisoners by the various group and camp comman- ders, one realised that elephantiasis of the ego has been cultivated,in the Japanese Army to compensate for   lack of inches, culture, and common

sense

"TREATMENT" OF ASIATICS

Then we learnt about the utter in- sincerity of the talk of "Asiatic co- prosperity" and "Asia for the Asia- tics." It is calculated by Allied medical officers, who tried to aid them, that at least 100,000, but more probably a quarter of a million, Tamils, Burmese, Malays, and Chi- nese lie buried along the Moulmein- Bangkok railway.

We saw Japanese beating up and torturing Asiatics of all races in every area we were in throughout the oc- cupied zones. At the Retpu camp in Burma, we saw 17 Burmese tor- tured with wire and lighted matches and finally murdered because they had dared to take action against a Japanese soldier who had attempted to decapitate one of their number because he tried to defend his wife's

honour.

We saw Tamils, too sick to work, driven at the bayonet point to the higher branches of trees where they remained day and night starving until they crashed to the ground dead to impress on their comrades the necessity of toiling for Nippon. We saw tortures, which made Tor- quemada seem a mere novice, in- flicted on Chinese, Burmese, and Siamese, whose only offence was a refusal to bow their heads before brutal and impossible tyrannies.

A few days before I left Bangkok I heard the eye-witness story of Cap- tain William Parker, of the US Army, who spent six months in the hands of the Japanese "Kempies" or Ges- tapo. He himself saw one Siamese, who was beaten day after day for ap- proximately three months. On one occasion this man received over 120 strokes with whips, loaded bamboos, and iron chains. Parker said; "He was the bravest man I have ever heard of. For approximately three

months he received beatings that brought him near death, but he walked out of the cell to his execu- tion under his own steam."

THEIR IDEA OF "CHIVALRY"

Then we learned about Bushido and Nippon's chivalry.

It is consistent with Bushido to laugh at a sick man writhing in agony from repeated kicks in the stomach while he lies on the ground in front of a guard.

It is Bushido for a Japanese officer to seize vital supplies of iodoform, sent by the American Red Cross for prisoners, and to refuse to part with it when hundreds of men under his command are facing amputations and death from tropical ulcers for lack

of it.

It is Bushido to trade this iodoform, a teaspoonful at a time, for the last pitiful treasures of POW's, ready to part with these dearest possessions in the hope of saving the lives of sick

comrades.

It is Bushido to mock and gibe at officer prisoners of greatly superior rank, and to force them to perform menial and degrading offices on pain of brutal physical chastisement.

It is Bushido to torture the sick, 4o persecute the dying in their last hours, to deny prisoners letters from home which have been lying within a few yards of them for 12 months or

more.

It is Bushido to take the already reduced rations of prisoners and re- sell them at enormous profits to the local native population.

It is Bushido to clothe, medically supply, and feed Japanese troops and POW guards with Red Cross goods that you have promised to deliver to your prisoners, while the prisoners die in hundreds for lack of these things.

It is a great thing this Bushido of the ancient Samurai tradition. This glorious chivalric code of the past so beloved by romantic women novelists who have never seen a Japanese without his frock coat. It is a great thing—especially for the Japanese when he's on top.

Then there is the Japanese sense of humour. You might live in daily contact with the Japanese for two years without coming upon the smallest sign that such a thing exists. Then you have prisoners killed by their own bombers because the Japanese have placed them in the middle of major targets and have refused to allow them to take shelter of any kind. This moves the Japanese to the most exquisite mirth. Or watch the Japanese squirm with laughter as he tortures some living creature, whether it is man, bird, or animal.

TORTURE FOR ENTERTAINMENT This brings us to the Japanese "love" of animals and the humanitarian strain In the Japanese character. In our first few months with the Japanese a few of us, not, inci- dentally, members of the SPCA, col- lected some 200 instances of these qualities, involving practically every one of our guards or the engineers and other Army personnel we saw

daily.

A trussed pig is always better for having boiling water poured in its ears so that it can scream like a demented soul for the last hour be- fore you cut its throat. A dog. after merciless beating until it is more dead than alive, is better fun if not immediately despatched, but buried up to the nose in quicklime.

BENEATH THAT VENEER

Yes, the other nations of the world have much to learn about the Japan- ese. Unfortunately, those who are dealing with them in Tokyo have not had the first-hand course in Japan- ese culture which the POW's have enjoyed. They will never learn about it if they look only at the polished veneer so perfected by Japanese diplomats. To understand the Japanese you have to live under them for years-to know them all, from senior officers with "higher" education to privates who have only

pulled rickshaws.

Slowly, very slowly, but as surely as day follows night, you will come to realise that whatever the super- ficial veneer of the individual, the naked barbarian lurks just beneath the surface, and that surface is very

easily scratched.

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