Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II

Washington DC is full of monuments, but this is one that I have only heard about a recently.  The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II was completed in 2001.  The idea was conceived by the Go for Broke National Veterans Association, which would later be renamed The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.  The organization raised $13 million to construct the monument which honors Japanese Americans who fought for the United States during World War II.

The included picture is Golden Cranes, a bronze sculpture by Nina A. Akamu.  Also on the monument are the names of the Japanese Americans veterans who died fighting for the US in World War II, along with quotes from a number of prominent Japanese Americans.  There was some controversy over a quote from Mike Masaoka, but his quote was retained.

The National Park Service now is in charge of the monument.  The memorial is located at the intersection of New Jersey Ave, Louisiana Ave, and D Street NW.

<photo credit:  Cliff via the Creative Commons License 2.0>

What if the “aliens” who crashed in Roswell were really Japanese?

I’m obsessed with all things aliens—and in the time of Trump, I should be clear, the ones from outer space not the non-citizens. I’ve gone to UFO conventions, watch every alien-themed documentary on Netflix, and listen to every paranormal podcast. Like Mulder on X-Files, “I want to believe.” So that’s why I was surprised when I read Nick Redfern’s new book, The Roswell UFO Conspiracy: Exposing A Shocking And Sinister Secret, that claims that maybe the aliens that crashed in Roswell were not actually aliens but humans from Japan.

I’ve heard of people thinking Asians might be aliens. I even wrote an 8Asians article about it a long long time ago,  Series of Web Pages Convinced Asians are Aliens from Outer Space. Most—okay, all—of the people who believe that are just kooks. THIS is completely different. This is Roswell! R-O-S-W-E-L-L! One of the first and arguably most important UFO cases in the ufology (real word). This is the Holy Grain of the UFO community.

Let’s take a moment to discuss Roswell. In early July 1947, on a small ranch in the remote town of Roswell, New Mexico, a farmer found unusual debris and small bodies. The next day, the Roswell newspaper declared that a flying saucer had been discovered.

But the local military reported that it was a crashed weather balloon. No one bought the story then and the legend only grew from there—especially in the 1970s when everyone and their mothers were talking about UFOs and aliens. If you want more information about the history of the Roswell case, I’d recommend visiting here.

If you were alive in the 1990s, then you might remember the alien autopsy video, which was supposedly taken in Roswell.

But what if there were no aliens in Roswell? What if there is a perfectly rational explanation? If we are to follow Occam’s razor (the simpler explanation is the better one), what’s simpler: that aliens came from outer space and crashed in Roswell or it was part of some top-secret military experiment? The latter, rather than the former, right?

So why do people think that the Roswell crash might be related to the Japanese? First, the descriptions of the witnesses. The bodies that were discovered on the ranch were described as being small and as having “Oriental” features. Some even argue that because the rancher had probably never seen a real Japanese (or Asian) person, he mistook a Japanese/Asian person for an alien from outer space.

If we are willing to suspend out disbelief and buy the fact that maybe the bodies found in the crash site were really Japanese, the question that begs to be asked is: how did they get to New Mexico in 1947? This is where the whole thing gets interesting. The hypothesis goes that the US government was testing high altitude Japanese balloons. Sound crazy? Not entirely. In World War II, the Japanese army did use weather balloons to attack the United States. They were known as Japan’s Fugo “balloon-bombs.”

Here’s a documentary about these balloons:

The hypothesis continues that the United States military secretly brought Japanese scientists over after the war to do biological, radioactive, and high-altitude decompression tests. There are rumors that they may have continued the infamous Unit 731 (a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation), which isn’t so crazy when you consider Operation Paperclip, where the government brought over a thousand plus Nazi scientists, engineers and technicians after the war. Believe it or not, one of the first places this hypothesis came out of was in Popular Mechanics.

From this point, there is a lot of conjecture about what exactly what was going on. In the interest of not going on and on (I know, too late), I’ll summarize.

1. The balloon was a “last-gasp” attempt to continue the war against the United States. That or the fugo bombs were stuck in the air and finally came down in 1947.

2. It was an experimental aircraft being “test-flown by the US military with Japanese crew on board.” The argument continues that there were two balloons: one filled with Japanese scientists and the other were filled with people recovered from the human experiments found at Unit 731. The reason that this has never come to light is because the government believed it was “better” for the average person to think a UFO crashed in Roswell than to know that German and Japanese war criminals were on their payroll.

There are, of course, a lot of problems with both of these. First, it seems highly unlikely that a good two years after the war, elements of the Japanese military were still trying to attack the United States or that it was stuck in some weather stream for two years before coming down. And as for the second theory, there is no real evidence of this. We know about Operation Paperclip with the Nazis, why wouldn’t we also know about the Japanese? Both did horrible things during World War II and were perpetrators of major war crimes. And as far as the crash victims being patients from the infamous Unit 731, most historians believe the people in the unit were murdered to prevent the world from discovering the atrocities the Japanese had committed.

Do I believe any of this? Maybe. I mean, it’s no crazier than aliens from outer space, right? What do you think?

Follow me at @ksakai1.

“Born Free and Equal”: Ansel Adams’ Book and Manzanar Photo Series

manzanarpaperAs a public official openly endorsed interning Syrian refugees just like Japanese Americans and a musical about the internment has opened on Broadway, the Washington Post has recently put up a montage of photos from famed landscape photographer Ansel Adams.  During World War II, he was too old to be drafted, but wanted to help the war effort and volunteered his photographic skills. While not known for focusing on human subjects, he was asked to document life at the Manzanar internment camp.   His photos became part of a controversial book called Born Free and Equal:  The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans.
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Traveling Japan: August 6th, 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima Bombing

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I thought it appropriate to post about my trip to Hiroshima, Japan on the actual 70th year anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima by the United States in World War II, August 6, 1945. Taking a day trip down to Hiroshima from Kyoto was made possible, affordable, and extremely convenient with the high speed shinkansen trains and our Japan Rail pass. The ride down was only about 2 hrs long.

Within the last three years, I actually visited Pearl Harbor at Hawaii and then Manzanar Internment Camps in eastern California. It wasn’t a planned progression, but in retrospect, it was actually a very fitting one, finishing off this complete circle with Hiroshima. At each location, it was hard to not break into tears.

I made it a point to visit Hiroshima this trip to Japan. What I really wanted was to be at the epicenter of the explosion, which is right around where the Atomic Bomb Dome, Peace Memorial Park, and Peace Memorial Museum are located. I wanted to look up at the sky and imagine Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. flying the Enola Gay overhead, imagine Little Boy falling out of the sky, imagine it detonating about 2,000ft above me, scorching and melting everything within a one mile radius, killing up to 70,000 people, some instantly, some slowly, flesh melting off their bodies, puking out their internal organs as the radiation ate through their flesh, many of them children and students who had been summoned to the area to work on rebuilding projects.

The first thing I saw was the Atomic Bomb Dome or Genbaku Dome, which had originally been an Industrial Promotion Hall 1915. Everyone died inside the building from the blast, but it was one of the few buildings left standing and preserved as a memorial. In December 1996, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The winter day we visited, it was appropriately gloomy, and the building was actually going under some structural reinforcing, so it was surrounded by scaffolding. At first, I was a tad bummed, because I wanted to see the building on its own, but then it still made a stark figure against the sky and was not at all a disappointment in conveying the depth of meaning and history burned into its walls.

#Hiroshima #AtomicBombDome

A photo posted by Carlomus Prime (@carlomusprime) on

And burned into walls of the building history was.

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Japanese MMA Promoter uses WWII Images to Hype Fight vs American

The Japanese MMA promotion Dream wanted something to hype up a Japanese crowd before a fight between Hayato “Mach” Sakurai and American Nick Diaz at its event Dream 14.  With the recent loss of its lightweight champion Shinya Aoki against American Gilbert Melendez, Dream decided to play up the idea of American vs Japanese  – including using images of World War II! They played this video, which some say has images from Pearl Harbor.    As the fight was also shown live in the United States, this was a particularly interesting choice to show during the  Memorial Day weekend.

What happened after that?   It seems that using World War II as a metaphor wasn’t such a good idea, as Diaz submitted Sakurai with an armbar.