Totalitarianism In Letters From Iwo Japan

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In Japan, key traits of totalitarianism such as ideology, control of individuals, and control of information led to the atrocities of Unit 731’s medical experiments, the Bataan Death March, and the Rape of Nanjing committed during World War II. First of all, Japanese ideology helped cause the atrocity of the medical experiments committed by Unit 731 as the Japanese thought surrender to be dishonorable and this allowed them to distance themselves from their prisoners of war. Ideology in a state refers to the ideas that guide the government and people in that it creates and justifies the goals and actions of the state. The Japanese people believed that surrender was dishonorable and considered suicide a better way to die. In the movie, Letters…show more content…
The key trait of the control of individuals is the act of a state denying basic rights, expecting personal sacrifice for the good of the state, and requiring obedience to the state. In the movie, Letters from Iwo Jima, Shimizu was ordered to kill a dog to prevent disruption of the state’s communications. Also, Saigo was forced to join the army, leaving his wife behind and going against his own feelings opposing fighting, in order to show loyalty to the state and obey orders (Letters from Iwo Jima). Then, in January 1942, Japan invaded the Philippines. In response, American and Philippine forces took defensive positions on the Bataan Peninsula but after three months, control of the land was seized by the Japanese. Afterwards, on orders to move prisoners inland to avoid their liberation, the Japanese soldiers forced Allied prisoners of war to march 50 miles up the peninsula, leading to approximately 16,000 dying along the way (WWII Lecture Notes). Firstly, Shimizu’s experience reveals that Japan utilized the key trait of control of individuals, because his being forced to kill a dog in order to prevent the disruption of state communications exemplifies the requirement of complete obedience to the state. Similarly, Saigo’s experience also demonstrates this key trait in that his army recruitment showed that personal sacrifice was expected of the state’s citizens, since he was forced to leave his family and ignore his beliefs to fight for Japan. Similarly, control of individuals was evident in the Japanese order to move prisoners inland, since the Japanese government required complete obedience to the state by following the state’s goals which included winning the war. Therefore, in order to improve their position, the prisoners of war could not be allowed to be liberated, and this goal led to the order to move them inland as it
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