By Max Gluckman
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Some, such as Sodei Rinjiro's Japanese-American atomic bomb victims, have difficulty finding a place for themselves within either nation's official story. " highlights their dilemma whether read from the perspective of Japan or the United States. Neither the American government's adamantine defense of the bombings nor the Japanese criticism of them as "contrary to civilization and humanity" can capture what Jay Winter has called "the vigorous and stubbornly visible incompatibilities" of history.
The atomic blasts have never been an easy subject for Japanese nationalists, however. Emphasis on the immense power of atomic weaponry underlines wartime Japan's technical inferiority and thus the stupidity of Japan's leaders in provoking war. Here the contrast with Nazi Germany is fruitful. Where postwar German leaders could simply distance themselves from the Nazi era, the continued political role of the emperor and of many other prewar officials precluded such options for Japanese leaders. At the same time, because Japan was defeated and its wartime military elite and colonial pretensions discredited (with the important exception of the emperor), two powerful and contradictory Japanese narratives of the war and the Japanese wartime state have been sustained since 1945: nationalist celebration and pacifist critique.
Although most Americans preferred a Jim Crow army and few questioned interning all Japanese-Americans on the West Coast in the 1940s, racial integration of the military subsequently became widely accepted. Critics of the Enola Gay exhibit demanded that all references to segregated practices be deleted.