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Japanese treatment of POWs

LAURENCE REES: Why were allied prisoners of war treated so brutally by the Japanese?

AKIRA IRIYE: In the same way that they had treated the Chinese civilians so brutally. By that time all kinds of moral constraints had been removed, in part because of the long war and in part because of this Asianist, anti-Western sentiment. They had viewed the Chinese as having sold out - other Asians had gone to the Western side. There is that aspect of  psychology, but also there is something that I said earlier, that they no longer have the sense that they have to be admired by the West, and coupled with that is the sense that because the Japanese prefer death than to be taken prisoner, they tended to despise those who were taken prisoners of war. Of course that does not include civilians. Civilians were incarcerated and some of them were quite brutally treated too.

So I think with the combination of these factors, its very hard to point to just one factor, and I think there was this anti-Western feeling that they had been victimized by the West and now the time had come for them to terrorise the Europeans and the Americans, and then in the long and drawn out war all these factors must have come together to result in this. And at least the officers should have known about the Geneva Agreement, about how to treat the prisoners of war. In their ignorance, their willing neglect, and their willingness to simply ignore those conventions and treaties, in part because they said this is a war, and in part because these treaties and conventions had been Western products so they were not bound by them.