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Opinion

Pearl Harbor: Japan's despicable crime against humanity

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

December 7, 1941 in Hawaii was December 8 in the Philippines. It was a Day of Infamy when Japan treacherously attacked the US military bases in Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, a few hours after a senior Japanese diplomat paid a courtesy call at the White House. It was the greatest act of treachery, an unprovoked war of aggression.

Japan committed a very serious crime against humanity. What Japan did to the Philippines was worse than what Russia is doing to Ukraine now. Japan has a huge debt to the Filipinos, especially the thousands of women they used as sex slaves and the families of one million Filipinos who were killed during the Second World War.

The greed of Japan and the insatiable ambitions of its leaders to dominate Asia and the Pacific became the proximate causes of the deaths of thousands and the destruction of billions worth of properties. It also signaled the start of the Second World War which devastated the Philippines and killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the US Congress in a joint session and said:" Yesterday, December 7, a date which will live in infamy, the USA was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." The president then asked that America declare war against Japan. Congress approved it immediately.

The President continued:" The US was at peace with that nation, and at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government, and its Emperor, looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the US and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack." Japan's attack therefore was most treacherous act for which some years later, they paid heavily with the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Pearl Harbor attack began at 7:55 am when the Hawaiians were still cooking breakfast. The Japanese attack forces came from all directions consisting of 353 aircrafts of which 40 were torpedo planes, 103 level bombers, 131 dive bombers and 79 fighter planes. There 65 ships consisting of 4 heavy aircraft carriers, two heavy cruisers, 35 submarines, two light cruisers, 9 oilers, two battleships and 11 destroyers. The surprise blitzkrieg attack damaged the 7th battle fleet of the USA, destroying the battleships Arizona and Oklahoma. In less than two hours, 2,026 American sailors and marines were killed, a good number of them of Filipino descent. Of those killed, 1,606 were aboard the sunk battleships. A number of civilians and unarmed combatants were killed, including children and elderly. The naval forces of the US suffered incalculable damages.

Because of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, more than one million Filipinos were killed, including innocent and unarmed civilians. The Japanese soldiers inflicted cruel and all forms of despicable atrocities against Filipinos. They made thousands of our women as sex slaves. They burned our buildings including churches and historical sites. They raped our women and killed even infants and babies. They robbed people of their crops and confiscated private possessions, burned down private residences. I should know. My family was among the victims, many of my relatives have died, many of our properties were lost, damaged or made useless, and no reparation for all our losses. My father was a young guerilla fighter and he was wounded in a hand to hand combat with the Japanese invaders.

Japan has never apologized to the Filipino comfort women whom they used as sex slaves. Japan can never pay for all the damages and the insults they had inflicted to our nation and people. The hundreds of thousands of Japanese who died by the atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima were not enough to repair all the wounded feelings, the pains and sufferings suffered by our people.

Today, in the solemnity of the feast of Immaculate Conception, I am praying to the Lord to remove the anger and the anguish that I still carry in my heart.

PEARL HARBOR NAVAL BASE

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