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Imperial Japan And Its POWs: The Dilemma Of Humaneness And National Identity

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Chapter Summary

Modern warfare could well be summed up in two phrases: annihilation and humanitarian concern. This chapter focuses on the actual behaviour and attitude to prisoners of wars (POWs) held by Japan, rather than on its images. It is based on a systematic analysis of the treatment of POWs in six major wars fought by Imperial Japan from 1894 to 1945. With these data at hand, this chapter aims to uncover the determinants of the Japanese treatment of POWs, the motives for the above transformation, and their implications for national identity and attitude to self and others. The quality of a belligerent's treatment of POWs it holds is a cardinal issue in assessing its compliance with international conventions and enforcing their terms. Throughout their classical, medieval and pre-modern history, the Japanese scarcely fought a major war outside their archipelago or against an external foe.

Keywords: national identity; pre-modern history; prisoners of wars (POWs)

10.1163/ej.9781905246854.i-242.51
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9781905246854.i-242.51
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