by Ron Kenner
American Reporter Correspondent
August 10, 2005
'AUGUST STORM' OFFERS A MAJOR HISTORY LESSON IN MEDIA MYOPIA
LOS ANGELES -- On Aug. 8, 1945, one week before Japan surrendered in World War II, the Soviet Union launched 1.5 million troops in a massive surprise attack against Japan's occupation forces in Korea and Northern China. The area, as Associated Press writer Slobodan Lekic described it recently, was the size of Western Europe.
"Within days," Lekic wrote, "Tokyo's million-man army in the region had collapsed in one of the greatest military defeats in history.
"Historians say the now largely forgotten Red Army victory - codenamed August Storm - not only hastened the end of World War II but also set the stage for the Korean War and for the victory in 1949 of the Chinese communists in the civil war against the nationalists," Lekic wrote, adding: "Some Japanese historians believe [Soviets entry into the war in the Far East] had a greater effect on the decision of the Japanese leadership to end the Pacific War than the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which came within days of the Soviet attack."
The impact of dropping the two atomic bombs would seem difficult to overestimate yet, as Lekic noted, "still, because August Storm came in the midst of the two atomic blasts, it has been largely neglected by Western historians. Cold War propaganda contributed to their being largely overlooked from the Anglo-American perspective. We always have focused on the atomic attacks, which for us represented the definitive blow," Lekic quoted historian Nigel Steel of the Imperial War Museum in London.
It seems debatable whether the massive defeat of the Japanese by the Soviets in "August Storm" played a greater role in the Japanese surrender than did the U.S. dropping of the two atomic bombs. But one thing seems near certain. In most all discussions regarding the alleged necessity of dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, "August Storm" invariably goes unmentioned.
Probably because the United States would soon need Japan as an ally against Russia, or perhaps because we felt we needed the Japanese Emperor Hirohito to help stabilize postwar Japan, we had to wait more than half a decade before released Japanese records exposed as a sham the long questionable story of Hirohito, the previously supposed God, as a kind of pawn of the military.
Perhaps we should keep "August Storm" in mind - along with the rarely mentioned U.S. firebombings of Tokyo and other Japanese cities (which caused perhaps as many deaths as the atomic blasts) and the "resurrection" in the U.S. of Hirohito as a supposed emperor at the mercy of the Japanese militarists - before we laugh at the latest gaps in Japanese high school history textbooks about Japan's seemingly innocent role in China in the '30s.
Such tales remind how seemingly easy it is, especially with the full force of the government and a compliant media, to hide the facts or fool much of the public for days, weeks, months, years and even decades.
Ron Kenner is a former metropolitan staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times, the author of a best-selling book on Charles Manson, and a longtime contributor to The American Reporter.