Japanese war effort remembered

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

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Japan has been banned from war since 1950, for which we should all be grateful

Next year is the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, and Japan is beginning to face its difficult history with a series of exhibitions showing the gentler side of the Japanese war machine.

In Osaka, the Japanese National Hello Kitty Museum is exhibiting a series of photographs taken in a death camp in Burma. There, captured Western prisoners were forced to work in starving conditions, sowing T-shirts with ludicrously cute animals on them for the Japanese troops.

"It was a form of torture," said war veteran Geoff Bridge, "But also it was very fun to make such cute clothing. Just looking at that stupid smiling animal face all day long made the slavery almost tolerable."

Ten thousand prisoners of war died making Hello Kitty clothes in WW2, but those that survived said it was the best war work they ever did.

Another aspect of the war which is often overlooked, is that many Japanese soldiers continued to fight on remote islands for decades after the war finished. The story behind that is more complex, as Jefahito Pikachu explains.

"Japan needed to motivate its troops to go out and fight and never give up. So we invented little monsters, and told our soldiers not to come home until they had caught them all. Many of them spent years on deserted Pacific islands looking for a Ryachu or a Squirtle. They never did find them all though," he said, breaking down in tears.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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