AUSTRALIAN HISTORY - POWs MISSING IN ACTION
missing in action
In 1996, New Zealander
James MacKay raised a storm with his Betrayal
in High Places, which proposed that the US and its allies had
suppressed evidence of Japanese massacres of POWs. He chased headlines
with the claim that he had been offered $100,000 not to publish. A
Chinese translation appeared in Beijing two years later.
photocopies of faked documents that he attributed to a New Zealander
ex-POW who had been part of the Australian legal team at the Tokyo war
example was the slaughter of 387 US, Australian, British and Dutch
prisoners at a gold mine on Sado Island, off the west coast of central
noted factual errors, other writers accepted the claims. Several
scholars were chipping away at the evidence before MacKay’s death in
2005. Now an article, co-authored by Sydney engineer James Oglethorpe,
in the April 2007 issue of the U.S. Journal
of Military History, has demolished the foundations.
There never were any
POWs on Sado, although some 300 Australians worked at nearby Niigita.
MacKay was angry at the
US for not insisting in 1951 on reparations for POWs, and for letting so
many war criminals walk free. Those concerns had been the subject of his
The Allied-Japanese Conspiracy,
published a year earlier. Attacks on that work presumably made him fake
documents to provide the smoking gun.
MacKay had a legitimate
complaint over the US decision not to purge Japan of its war-makers. The
Australian who served as President of the International Military
Tribunal for the Far East, High Court Justice Webb, lamented the failure
to indict the ex-God Hirohito. One Class-A criminal, Kishi, became prime
minister, while Japan’s chemical and biological warfare experts had
been spirited into the US Cold War armoury.
In High Places would carry little significance outside POW chat
rooms had MacKay’s fabrication not given a free kick to Prime Minister
Abe and his clique who can now beat the drum about MacKay’s little lie
in order to perpetrate their Big Lie that no comfort woman existed, let
This betrayal of truth
and decency has diverted attention from the refusal of Japan’s ruling
chauvinists to say “sorry”. Not surprisingly, it is with these
reprobates that Canberra has just signed a military pact aimed against
those who suffered most, the Chinese and Koreans.
In addition, the
contretemps deflects attention away from explaining why the Japanese
Imperial Army behaved so abominably between 1937 and 1945 after it had
conformed to the rules of war in its 1904-05 conflict with Czarist
Russia. MacKay has made it harder to move beyond the war-time propaganda
that Japanese are cruel by nature to specify why they went on to copy
Britain’s behaviour in Boer concentration camps and the US mass
murders of Filipinos.
21 June 2007