In Response to: The New Look of Legacy

In reading to the article on “The New Look of Legacy” in the December 2022 edition of PAW, I came across the following sentence: “And Princeton’s anti-Japanese sentiment went beyond the administration (students burned an effigy of General Tojo in front of Nassau Hall after the war ended) and beyond the war years.” Curiosity won out, and I looked up General Tojo on Wikipedia. This is part of what I found:

Hideki Tojo ... was a Japanese politician, general of the Imperial Japanese Army, and convicted war criminal who served as prime minister of Japan ... for most of World War II. During his years in power, his leadership was marked by extreme state-perpetrated violence in the name of Japanese ultranationalism, much of which he was personally involved in.

… On the eve of the Second World War's expansion into Asia and the Pacific, Tojo was an outspoken advocate for a preemptive attack on the United States and its European allies. Upon being appointed prime minister on October 17, 1941, he oversaw the Empire of Japan’s decision to go to war as well as its ensuing conquest of much of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. During the course of the war, Tojo presided over numerous war crimes, including the massacre and starvation of civilians and prisoners of war. He was also involved in the sexual enslavement of thousands of mostly Korean women and girls for Japanese soldiers, an event that still strains modern Japanese–Korean relations.

After the war’s tide decisively turned against Japan, Tojo was forced to resign as prime minister on July 18th, 1944. Following his nation’s surrender to the Allied Powers in September 1945, he was arrested, convicted by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in the Tokyo Trials, sentenced to death, and hanged on December 23, 1948. To this day, Tojo’s complicity in atrocities such as the Rape of Nanjing, the Bataan Death March, and human experimentation entailing the torture and death of thousands have firmly intertwined his legacy with the fanatical brutality shown by the Japanese Empire throughout World War II.

I would hope the author of the article would not cry foul if students had burned an effigy of Adolf Hitler, but assuming the accuracy of the article, I fail to see much difference between the two men. Could it be that students were burning an effigy of a very bad person rather than burning the effigy because that person happened to be Japanese?  

Betsy Kohl ’99
Owings, Md.