"Sometimes you have to get away from what you know to discover what you don't know" Bryant McGill
"White Tiger Military" is a non-political website with no affillation to any organization or group nor endorses any political viewpoint regarding the conduct of any nation during World War II. This site is dedicated to historical research and is intended to be a resource for scholars, historians and collectors with the identification and preservation of headgear, uniforms and insignia worn by Japanese military forces from 1920 through 1945. As a long time collector I am aware that there is still much we do not know about the evolution of Japanese military uniforms and headgear during this period. We have reached a point where new information comes in very small bites but we should not be discouraged from continuing to search before the information becomes lost forever. All that is needed is an open mind and the perseverance and willingness to search. My goal is to establish a forum where there is an intelligent and friendly exchange of information and ideas. So, whether you are a professional educator, armchair historian, dedicated collector or you have found some old souvenirs and want to know what they are, this site is here to help you.
The focus of this website has been about collecting and discovery and I have tried to keep the site clear of political and ethical questions that arise out of the conduct of any nation during the Second World War. However, there are times when some issues affecting our hobby need to be addressed. This past Memorial Day, CBS news broadcast a short piece on the return of Japanese “yoshigaki hinomaru” flags as part of the tribute to our veterans. Unfortunately, in my opinion, I felt this piece was poorly researched and full of omissions and presented in such a way that US servicemen appear more like looters and battlefield scavengers than the “greatest generation” they were and are. I expressed my feelings in an email to CBS and the reporter and I am not surprised neither has responded. For the past several years there has been an effort by small groups in Japan and now in the US to “return” yoshigaki hinomaru flags to Japan. Several years ago a news crew from NHK television in Japan came to the MAX Show in Pennsylvania and later appeared at a show in Connecticut ostensibly to do a piece about military shows in the US. Simply put, the NHK people were not truthful about the purpose of their story. I was one of those approached by the NHK producer and after some general questions the interview became solely focused on “yoshigaki flags”. Their film was only shown in Japan but I had the opportunity to watch it. Fortunately, nothing from my interview was used in their final product which turned out to be an exposé on “greedy” American military dealers who bought and sold yoshigaki flags and portrayed Americans as “only” interested in the money. There are a finite number of yoshigaki hinomaru flags in the US today and frankly, other than swords, there was never much interest in Japanese militaria until the mid 1980’s. There are far more yoshigaki flags, senninbari, off to war banners and good luck dolls that are currently being sold on the Japanese internet, ebay, military shows and flea markets in Japan. One such flea market is open every Sunday on the grounds of the Yoshikuni Shine in Tokyo where the ashes of Japanese war dead are enshrined. Japanese military dealers have been coming to US shows for the past 40 years not only to buy items for resale in Japan but to sell their items here. This would lead any one to ask why none of this was ever mentioned in the NHK or the CBS stories. Could it be because the stories were not about truth but about an agenda? The truth is that not every soldier was given a flag by their family. Some were given flags while others were given senninbari belts and vest and good luck dolls. These things were also given by friends, co-workers, classmates and other soldiers. Many of the flags carried by the soldiers were plain hinomaru flags. The percentage of flags returned to families is very small and growing smaller every day. A visitor to Japan recently was shown boxes of flags in a government office sent back for return and no one had any idea what to do with them because they can’t be returned. There was never any mention that the only book ever published about yoshigaki hinomaru flags was written by an American. He spent his time and money bringing the story of the yoshigaki flags to everyone. It wasn’t until his book was published that any real interest in these flags began…not as war trophies but as works of art. It is the reason that some of these flags are now preserved in art and textile museums in the U.S. The Obon Society, prominently featured on the CBS piece, is based in the US and part of their agenda is to make owning yoshigaki flags and other items illegal. While returning the flags sounds very noble they conveniently play on emotion and omit certain facts. The Japanese have a proverb “The reputation of a thousand years can be made with the actions of just one hour”. Earlier this year the Obon Society was forced to remove photographs and text from their website which were taken from a publication and used without the author’s or publisher’s permission. When you preach about “doing the right thing” perhaps you should practice it yourself unless you believe the end justify the means. If “reconciliation” is the true objective, then returning a few flags pales in comparison to holding those accountable for human suffering, war crimes, mass murder, the use of POW’s as slave labor and medical experiments and a whole host of topics which would be a better place to start. But, alas these things are never mentioned. These topics are left for another day or another decade or a time when all the veterans are gone and there will be no witnesses left to speak of those events. I believe any serviceman, person or group who feels the need to return a flag or anything else has the absolute right to do so. I don’t need to be manipulated or quilted into doing what someone else thinks is the right thing”. I can make up my own mind and I want others to respect my right to choose. Freedom of choice is one of our nation's founding principles and one of the things the war was all about. If you want reconciliation, then perhaps a good place to start would be tolerance of others and their freedom of choice.