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Should Japan still be considered guilty for the Pacific War?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/28/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,090 times Debate No: 44734
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




First round is opening arguments only.
Second round is more opening arguments and rebuttals.
Third round is rebuttals only.
Fourth round is closing statements only. NO NEW EVIDENCE IN ROUND 4.

The Pacific War was part of a larger war that is more widely known as the WWII. This war was started by Germany, and soon Italy followed. In the east, Japan attacked the Korean peninsula and Chinese land, taking control of the Eastern Asian Region.

Firstly, the Japanese did not give proper compensation to the countries it attacked for starting a war. The Germans did a better job of that. The German president visited Poland and many other countries after the war and apologized on behalf of German Nazi powers decades later. The Japanese did not. In fact, they refused to, stating that they were not responsible for the fault of their ancestors. Although this may be true, they should at least show some kind of remorse but failed to.(

Also, the Japanese did not punish the leaders of the war as Germany did. Germany sentenced the leaders of the Nazis to death or a life sentence of jail. However, the Japanese still commemorate those leaders as war heroes who were unfairly attacked upon by the United States of America. They call the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the day they were attacked upon by the threatening US, and they also call themselves the victims of an unjustified nuclear attack.

Thirdly, they teach to this day in their textbooks that they were not attacking the East Asian nations but simply helping them by taking control. They claim that the slaves they took from Korea to have 'willingly followed them' and they even manage to justify attacking Pearl Harbor.


I accept.
I will argue that the national body of Japan should not be held guilty for the war.
Main points I will use:

I. General populations are almost never to blame for war.

1. Democracy and responsibility
The only countries in which the general population can be held accountable for government and state decisions are functioning, proper democracies. It is a well known fact that Japan at the time was not a democracy, and that the people had no control over the actions of their government, thus no responsibility. Autocratic governments have a knack for dragging large populations of people into things that are not in their best interests.

Do we blame the peasants for the countless feudal wars that occured during the Middle Ages?
Do we blame ordinary Russian city-dwellers and farmers for Stalinism?

No, because they had no say in what was going on. Why should Japan be treated any differently?

2. On War guilt
History has taught us that it is counter-productive and even hurtful for peace to attribute war guilt to certain belligerents over others. (Can I say Treaty of Versailles?) No single country is ever responsible for a war. If you want to consider Japan guilty for its actions, then you must also hold the U.S.A. accountable to all their war crimes commited.

If guilt for the war is to be attibuted to people, it should be attributed to limited individuals who were key figures in starting and expanding the war, not the entire nation that happened to be dragged into the fight.

I. The circumstances of Japan made it difficult for Japan to not become a belligerent, regardless of its wishes.

1. The Hunger Wars
Any good historian will tell you that the cause of the sudden burst of violence in the 30's and 40's leading to global conflict was not started over greed, nor ideology. It was about hunger. The world was entering a phase where human growth had accelerated to a pace beyond imagening. Nations felt they would have to either compete for resources or drown. Japan invaded Korea, not just for their mineral wealth, but for their rice paddies. Germany invaded Poland the Ukraine for farmland, to ensure enough food for Germans. Countries around the world took note that their populations were exploding beyond control and feared that agricultural advancements would fall behind, as was normal in history, leading to mass starvation. This period in human history is a huge exception to a generally solid Malthusian framework. The fears of lack of resources, land and food did not come to pass thanks to a continuation of massive argicultural advancements, such as pesticides and artificial fertilizer, but the countries of the past had no way of forseeing this. It was either take land by force, or sit on your hands while tens of millions starve.

2. External Pressure.
Due to the war in China, Western countries refused to trade with Japan. In particular, Oil and Iron imports were banned because they were deemed valuable to the Japanese war effort. This ban meant Japan could not accoire Oil and Iron through trade. The trouble with the trade ban was that Oil and Iron were already produced in Asia, foreign European countries just didn't want it to go to japan.

Historians agree that this was a strategic move made by western powers in order to force the hand of Japan. It is known due to historical confirmation, that the U.S. government eagerly waited for war with Japan, who they saw as their main competitor in Asia. The trouble for the U.S. was that the people were too neutral. Forcing the Japanese to attack Dutch Indonesia (where Asian Oil was made) would reduce American neutrality in favor of joining the Allies. It is also known that the U.S. government knew that Japan would strike Perl Harbor, but did nothing so as to have a greater "shock value" of sudden merciless attack. This worked perfectly for the U.S. as support for the war soared right afterwards.

In short, Europeans and Americans baited Japan into forcibly securing the resouces they needed, and then acted shocked at the sudden "unwarranted aggression" that they caused.

In this sense, guilt for war cannot even be attributed to individuals, but to the flow of history itself.

i look forwards to a respectful and educational debate :)
Debate Round No. 1


mir9 forfeited this round.


Pro has failed to post for round two.
Con arguments extended.

If the Pro wishes to continue, that is fine with me.
Either way, may the neglect of the Pro be reflected in the votes.

Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 2


I apologize to my opponent for failing to post my round of the debate.
First, my opponent has stated that the population shouldn't be held responsible for the fault of their non-democratic government. However, my point is that today, Japanese citizens treat their cruel ancestors as heroes. They don't repent on the actions of the Japanese war crimes but rather try to justify themselves.

Secondly, my opponent has said that no single country is responsible for a war. This is true in many ways. However, every country is responsible for the inhumane actions caused by themselves during the war. Germany and the other European Axis powers recognized that and apologized. Japan has gone the other direction. This holds Japan as the only power of the WWII that still considers themselves justified as attackers of the Manchurian Area. My opponent also claims that the war guilt should be limited to those key figures in the war. However, Japan holds these key figures as war heroes while Germany considers Hitler to be a criminal. There is a big difference between these two countries.

Thirdly, my opponent claims that Japan can be justified to attack and enslave another country because of the starvation of their own. Doesn't this seem to be familiar? This same political model can be found in the colonial era of the United States of America. England enslaved the colonies, forced unfair taxes, took land and food and resources to feed their own country. This can be found in the enslavement of the Korean Peninsula. Japan stole land, took food and resources, and also made a society where Korean culture and citizens were considered inferior than Japanese equals. Even worse, they sexually enslaved Korean women and and forced Korean men to fight for them in the war against the USA. They attacked Pearl Harbor first, and then use another country's men to fight the war for them.

Lastly, my opponent stated that the Allied Powers virtually baited Japan into an unfair position. However, this is called war strategy. This is, although very low, a great strategy made by the USA and allies. Although this may seem cowardly, this has nothing to do with the inhumane treatment of Korean citizens during the war.

Personally, I have no personal feelings against Japan taking the Korean peninsula. These things happen during wars and hard times. Countries need land and food during hard times. However, it is the enslavement and unfair treatment of Korean citizens that holds Japan guilty.

Likewise, I look forward to a great debate. I mean no offense to Japan or Japanese citizens today. (I actually have many Japanese friends)


Pro point I:
Japanese "cruel ancestors" are made to be heroes, without repent.

This is false on multiple levels.
1. What makes the Japanese of 70 years ago particularily cruel compared to today? People are people. By that logic, Americans are cruel people for the genocide of the Native Americans. The Mongols are a cruel people for following the leadership of the likes of Genghis Khan. I argue that firstly, no one's ancestors here were "cruel people". This concept is simply the residual effect of propaganda towards "enemies", demonizing the people that any nation wars against in order to justy the war to their own people.

2. Japanese war criminals and soldiers alike are not made to be heroes. My evidence is the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visits to war shrines. All war dead, regardless of their actions, are honored by the people they died fighting for. This is completely normal. The head of state paying homage to the victims of the deadliest war in human history is only to be expected. How would Americans feel if their president refused to visit the graves of American war dead? They would condemn him as "un-American". I see no reason why Japan should be held up to this unfair and hypocrtitical double-standard.

3. On repent, the Japanese have repented, in fact much more than neccessary. Japan has done a full 180 turnaround since the Second World War, becoming one of the most free and democratic countries in the world, becoming one of the most pacifistic and non-violent countries in the world. Not only that but the Japanese state has payed back its debt to the world, and more, because Japan is one of the largest contributors in the world towards international aid. Japan works hard and every year commits a sizable portion of their economy towards peace on Earth. Is this not repent enough?

Pro point II:
"inhumane actions caused by themselves during the war"

1. War itself is a crime. All actions that occur in a war are war crimes. Japan has proven that they regard war fighting as a criminal act. In fact, the Japanese state has renounced the right to wage war in their own constitution. Japanese state officials views war as an inherent crime against humanity. This shows that Japan does not see war leaders as heroes, but rather as criminals. Germany may in fact be worse in this respect because Germans feel that some wars are justified, as the German state is still permitted to take part in war legally, while Japan sees no justification in any war at all, at least no legal justification.

2. All wars and all crimes are humane and not inhumane. Merriam-Webster definition of inhumane: Not Human, lacking human emotion. War is a very human thing. Only a precious few animals take part in organized conflict, but humans stand above all other known animals in the world of violence. Humans are inherently violent, and human violence is always deeply rooted in emotion (with the exception of psychopaths, who are violent due to a mental problem). War is a uniquely human thing, and war is full of human emotion, the very opposite of the definition of inhumane.

3. The Japanese people are not to blame for war atrocities. The few war criminals who ordered the atrocities are the ones responsible.

My opponent agrees with my point that "No single country is responsible for a war. This is true." Therefore, if the Japanese people had no way of deciding who their leadership was, and what decisions they would take, they cannot be blamed over actions they had no control over. It was not everyday normal Japanese citizens commiting atrocities abroad, is was the officers and leaders who did it. Is the opponent going to argue that shoemakers and fishermen in New England were responsible for the genocide of the Native Americans living in the Great Plains? Or that Spanish peasants in Burgos are responsible for the genocide of the Central American Natives? Obviously not.

Pro point III:
My opponent has misunderstood my point. I am not saying that the Japanese were justified, I am making a point that every time an army goes to war, it is because it feels justified in their actions. Force without justification is just violence. When both sides feel justified, that makes it a war.

1. In all fairness, the worries and justifications that the Japanese leadership felt they had, in terms of malthusian, demographic, and economic reasons, were correct from a historical point of view. Resources are limited, the ones who can secure resouces live, those who don't die. This is a simple fact of life. While we can say that war is always a crime and never justified, that does not mean that we don't empathise with the participants, and understand exactly why they felt justified. Considering the historical position of the Japanese, the path towards war was reasonable and logical, and no one can be blamed for doing what they saw as their only course of action. If there had been another choice, if the Japanese leadership at the time saw a different option, then the war would be their fault. But reality is different.

2. The seizing of land, the extortion of taxes, and enslavement are all normal for all armies in any war without exception. I find this argument to be extremely hypocritical, as no participant in any war can avoid doing these things. This is the reason why war is inherently a crime. Finger-pointing and blaming someone else for the same things one's own has done is ridiculous. When we let the one who has not sinned be the first to throw a stone, no one would be able to throw any stones.

Pro point IV:
"this is called war strategy"

Werriam-Webster definition of Strategy: A careful plan or method of achiveing a goal.
War Strategy is a careful plan or method for acheiving victory in a war.

War Strategy supposes that there is, in fact, a war to acheive victory in.

For the Allies to have war strategy against Japan before Japan even started the war goes to prove my point that Japan was only just as guily as the allied belligerents. The Allies were already at war with Japan long before Pearl Harbor, and without regard for the wishes of the Japanese people. The Japanese people did not necessarily want war. They did not bring it upon themselves or anyone else, it was the leadership of both sides that both equally charged towards each other. In fact, since the allied leadership was supposedly democratic, then the allied countries should carry a heavier burden in the war guilt because their people can be held responsible for the illegal war actions of their governments.

Since we usually agree that all the other belligerents are free of guilt, Japan should be free of guilt as well, by now.


The Japanese people can not be held guilty for decisions and actions that were not their own. Japan has sufficiently repented for the damages caused, through global peace work, apoligetic statement, and the pacifistic sentiment of an entire nation that for over half a century has completely renounced all violence as a means to resolve problems.
After so much time has passed, it is folly to continue hoding one country as guilty while the potential guilt of others is conveniently ignored.

Vote CON
Debate Round No. 3


mir9 forfeited this round.


Con has provided a detailed analysis of why Japan can not and should not be held guilty for the Pacific War, by use of
-historical evidence of the geopolitical situation
-rational arguement for why the people of Japan could not be held accountable
-proof of sufficient penitence and remorse on the part of Japan

Pro has surrenderd the debate.

For these reasons, vote CON
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Seeginomikata 3 years ago
There are records that radar operators detected the air formation long before they reached the target, but that superior officers told the radar operators to ignore it.
Plus we know the Japanese secret communication codes be broken before the war started, so it wasn't hard to figure out when the Japanese carrier fleet left port.
Posted by ararmer1919 3 years ago
It is not a "fact" that the US knew about Pearl Harbor. It is a conspiracy and nothing more and writing it off as "fact" is detrimental to cons argument. I'm sure that we were aware of the THREAT of an attack, however that was obvious due to the tension going on at the time and we most likely did not know where the attack would happen.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for the forfeits. Arguments as a result of the forfeits, as well--Pro never really rebutted huge swaths of Con's case. S&G were equal enough, I suppose, and the same can be said for sourcing. As always, happy to clarify this RFD.