The Japan Tours
Bob Milne was a U.S. State Dept. Ambassador of Music from 2000 - 2007. He made five trips to Japan, Okinawa, Hokkaido, and many smaller islands ranging as far south as to be within sight of Taiwan.
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Robert & Linda Milne with the U.S. Embassy personnel in Tokyo
Bob Milne was an Ambassador of Music for the U.S. State Dept. for six years between 1999 – 2008. This is a story from those years. © 2024
This is a picture of Linda & myself with the U.S. Embassy people in Tokyo. Aside from the spectacular concert tours they sent us on, we heard an amazing story from the Japanese Embassy people as well.
At a dinner with both the American and Japanese embassy people, a Japanese man said to us the following:
"Mr. & Mrs. Milne, the Japanese people want you to know how much we appreciate the way your president ended World War II."
After our initial expressions of amazement he continued:
"Our leaders at the time were insane. We all knew it. When we first heard that they had bombed Pearl Harbor we were all in terrible fear. We knew that the Americans would come back ferociously and our island would be destroyed, killing millions of us in the process. Our leaders then cut off all communications between cities. We didn't know what was happening just short miles away because all news came to us from government controlled newspapers and radio stations.
"The news we received were things like this: "The victorious Japanese air force and navy have sunk all the American ships at Midway and smashed the American troops! The Japanese forces have destroyed the Americans at Guadalcanal! The Americans have been defeated at Okinawa! Glory be to the Emperor!
"Of course, we all knew these were lies. We also knew the Americans, now in full control of Okinawa, would soon be landing on our beloved mainland (Honshu), and we would die. The Americans would lose 200,000 soldiers as well. But then your president destroyed Hiroshima with an atomic bomb. We didn't know it at the time because all communications had been shut down. But Hiroshima wasn't enough to stop our insane leaders, so next your president bombed Nagasaki with another atomic weapon. Now our emperor had to admit defeat.
"As a result of your president's actions, we Japanese only lost 100,000 people instead of a million or more, and we want you to know that the people of Japan thank your president for what he did."
[Insert 1: we later learned about an old man who had been outfitted with grenade belts when he was young. He was given instructions to go to the beach when the Americans came in and throw the grenades at the invaders. He lived because of the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.]
[Insert 2: two years later, when at another dinner with our Japanese hosts, a different person told us the same story. It was as if they knew how the bombing stories had been twisted into American society to turn us against ourselves, and that they wanted us to know the truth.]
I will soon be posting photos and stories of the multiple trips Linda and I made to Japan in the capacity of a U.S. State Dept. Musicl Ambassador.