Letter: Post-war strategy, then and now
President Bush's reference in his Veteran of Foreign Wars speech about the democratization of Japan and comparing it to Iraq made me think of my arrival in Japan in August 1954. After processing in Tokyo, we loaded on a bus to proceed to our new ...
President Bush's reference in his Veteran of Foreign Wars speech about the democratization of Japan and comparing it to Iraq made me think of my arrival in Japan in August 1954. After processing in Tokyo, we loaded on a bus to proceed to our new homes in Yokohama. It was an ordinary bus with no armor and no military guards. Our only guide was our Japanese driver -- who didn't know where we were going. Our trip (half an hour by train) took us hours so that it was dark when we arrived at our quarters.
The women lived in Leyte Courts. Leyte (named for the battle in the Philippines) consisted of Quonset huts built on ground where the homes had been destroyed by the war's fire bombs. This was no Green Zone in Baghdad with a fence around it and guards. The Quonsets were open to the street, and it was only the canal that separated us from Motomachi, our favorite shopping street.
Behind our little court was Chinatown with all its appetizing restaurants. The biggest danger that we had was walking at night -- in the dimly lit streets you could fall in where the manhole covers had disappeared. During the Occupation (1945-1952) there was not even one attack on our forces.
The existing pre-war buildings in our section of Yokohama were the American Consulate, the New Grand Hotel, the Bund Hotel and Helm House. Both hotels were used for officers' quarters. Helm House, an apartment building, was owned by an American living in the States. Supposedly he was contacted during the war and asked if he would give the use to the occupation forces -- or else it would be destroyed.
Unlike Iraq, post-war planning began early. Although Pearl Harbor took place in December 1941, the plans for Japan's occupation began in 1942.
John Dower, the historian quoted by Bush, said that he was not misquoted but he was misrepresented. He added, "The administration went in there (Iraq) without any kind of preparation, thoughtfulness, understanding of the country..."
Do Bush's speechwriters ever look for the meaning or do they look only for quotable words?
Barbara M. Edwards