"The Japanese song, 'I look up as I walk' that was performed by the Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto and which is better known the world over by the alternative title, 'Sukiyaki', has sold 13 million copies worldwide since its first release in 1961. Indeed, it was the first Japanese song to sell over one million. This song is crucially important in the birth of Japan as a modern nation.
During the 'Second World War', the Japanese proved themselves to be ruthless in the degree of savagery they displayed towards the British and Ally soldiers they captured. I have met and spoken with so many British soldiers who became prisoners of war under the Japanese, who would never forgive them for the cruelty they showed towards their captives. They essentially had no respect for any soldier who would not kill himself or die fighting against the odds before surrendering and allowing themselves to be captured by the enemy!
In the early morning of December 7th, 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbour, near Honolulu, Hawaii. The barrage lasted almost two hours, but it was devastating. The Japanese destroyed 20 American naval vessels (including eight battleships), and over 300 aeroplanes. 2,235 American soldiers and sailors were killed in the attack and 1,143 were wounded. The Japanese engaged in this action without any formal declaration of war; something that was hitherto unheard of in any civilised part of the world by a major power. The day after this attack without warning, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.
After the Americans had joined the war, America seemed to take immediate revenge upon all people of Japanese origin who lived in America and specifically those who lived on the Pacific coast. Overnight, Japanese Americans found their lives radically altered. Three months after the attack on Pearl Harbour, the President issued executive Order No. 9066; forcing 110,000 to leave their homes in California, Washington and Oregon and to be sent to detention camps in desolated parts of the United States. Over two thirds of these Japanese Americans had been born in the United States and none were ever charged with a crime against the government. More than 70 percent of people who were forced into camps were American citizens. Not one vote by Congress was registered against this action and it was even upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court. While the government called these places 'Relocation Camps', they were essentially 'Detention Camps' surrounded by barb wire and guarded by armed soldiers. The families lived in poorly built, overcrowded barracks that had no running water and little heat. There was little privacy and everyone used public bathroom and toilet facilities. For many years, the children of Japanese Americans in these centres received no education and a second rate standard of medical care. Almost 50 years later, the American Congress passed and President Ronald W. Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which formally apologized for its wartime imprisonment of these innocent people and awarded each of 80,000 survivors a $20,000 compensation payment.
The 'Second World War' was effectively brought to an end by the America's nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August the 6th and 9th respectively. These two bombings were carried out by the United States with the consent of the United Kingdom, as laid down by the Quebec Agreement, and resulted in the deaths of over 129,000 people. While the Japanese were warned in advance of these two nuclear bombings and were given ample opportunity to surrender, I wonder how many American and British diplomats, knowing of the 'non-surrender' culture of the Japanese fighting forces, sensed that they might not?
It took many years after the 'Second World War' for the people of United States of America and Great Britain to forgive Japan for their part in the war, and many old soldiers who witnessed their brutality in warfare never would.
When 'Sukiyaki' became a global hit after its release in 1961, its symbolism throughout the civil world could not be over-rated. Its acceptance in the world charts of pop music was in effect, a welcome of the Japanese as a nation back into the fold of humanity. For the first time since those dark days of Pearl Harbour, many Japanese started to feel accepted by the world again." William Forde: November 20th, 2016.