It is a terrible travesty of justice that suffering of a third of the population of Asia during World War II should be neglected from the global history taught currently in the West and, consequently, relegated to the “attic of history.” What is even more unforgivable is that history may be repeating itself that could cause unimaginable pain, suffering, and tragedy to the world because we do not learn from this part of history.
In his book, Imperial Japan’s World War Two, 1931-1945, Werner Gruhl, an expert on the Asia Pacific War, began his book with “Most Americans know something about the Second World War in Europe, a little about the war in the Pacific, and virtually nothing about the war in East and Southeast Asia. . . . The popular view is that World War II was started by Germany with the invasion of Poland in 1939. Few are aware of, or fully appreciate, Imperial Japan’s even vaster and equally merciless aggression in Asia, which began with the 1931 invasion of Manchuria in China.”
Gruhl continued in his book: “Today the memory of the Japanese invasion of Asia and the cost in lives has been relegated to the ‘attic of history,’ the suffering unrecognized in the West or treated as if it counted for little. There is minimal attention paid to what the war did to the Chinese people. The painful war experience of SE Asia and the Indian and Pacific Ocean islands are completely neglected. . . .”
The atrocities that the Japanese Imperial Army inflicted on China, Korea, Philippines, and other parts of Asia were not isolated incidents, but massive atrocities that included the Nanking Massacre, sex slaves, biological and chemical warfare, and illegal mistreatment of prisoners of war (POWs). For more information on these atrocities, please go to the “History Overview” page of this website.
However, the Japanese government still has not formally acknowledged and apologized for these massive and inhumane atrocities. This long amnesia of war crimes of such magnitude is a great stumbling block to ultimate peace and reconciliation among the Asian countries, and the world at large. In light of the trend toward globalization, improving the education and awareness of our young people about this part of WWII history in Asia is especially important for the U.S. and the world. Its importance is captured so eloquently in the following quotes.
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it
— George Santayana
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing
— Albert Einstein
The goal of the “New Jersey-Alliance for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia” (NJ-ALPHA) is to bring this long neglected chapter of history into the schools as part of the school curriculum. We have already made a good start in this effort by working in partnership with the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education (http://www.state.nj.us/education/holocaust/).
We have published a curriculum guide for use in the schools, and are now in the process of implementing it in the New Jersey school system. We have also sent teachers and educators to Asia to experience first-hand, visiting the sites where some of the atrocities took place and meeting and discussing with survivors. All the teachers who have returned from these summer study tours have praised the experience as unforgettable and eye-opening, and it has changed their lives. We have also worked with other ALPHA-like organizations to expand our program to other places in the U.S. and Canada.
NJ-ALPHA is an established non-profit educational 501(c)(3) organization duly registered with the U.S. federal government (Federal Tax I.D. # is 73-1734843). Contributions are fully tax deductible. Checks for your contributions should be payable to NJ-ALPHA, and mail to NJ-ALPHA, P. O. Box 506, Holmdel, NJ 07733
NJ-ALPHA has an Executive Office of four officers:
- President: Don Tow, Ph.D., a retired physicist and engineer, long-time active in student and community activities, and author of the book Mental Aspects of Youth Soccer: A Primer for Players, Parents, and Coaches
- Vice President: Ann Santee, an elementary school social worker
- Treasurer: Rosa Yeh, a tutor of high school math
- Secretary: Frann Len, supply chain and project management professional with experience in consumer products and pharmaceutical manufacturing