[Singaporean Literature]

Lee Kuan Yew on the Japanese Army and the Atomic Bomb

George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University; Distinguished Visiting Professor, National University of Singapore, 1998-1999

Those of my generation who saw the Japanese soldiers in the flesh cannot forget their almost inhuman attitude to death in battle. They were not afraid to die. They made fearsome enemies and needed so little to keep going -- the tin containers on their belts carried only rice, some soya beans and salt fish. Throughout the occupation, a common sight was of Japanese soldiers at bayonet practice on open fields. Their war cries as they stabbed their gunny-sack dummies were bloodcurdling. Had the British re-invaded and fought their way down Malaya into Singapore, there would have been immense devastation.

After seeing them at close quarters, I was sure that for sheer fighting spirit, they were among the world's finest. But they also showed a meanness and viciousness towards their enemies equal to the Huns'. Genghis Khan and his hordes could not have been more merciless. I have lo doubts about whether the two atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary. Without them, hundreds of thousands of civilians in Malaya and Singapore, and millions in Japan itself, would have perished. [59-60]


Lee Kuan Yew. The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Times, 1998.

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