back to article Stephen Fry cans Japan trip over nuke survivor quip

The BBC has decided it would probably be wiser if Stephen Fry didn't visit Japan in the near future, following the QI presenter's description of double A-bomb survivor Tsutomu Yamaguchi as "the unluckiest man in the world". Fry had been due to jet out to the country to film for a new Beeb documentary series, Planet Word, but the …

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Well...

...considering he got nuked twice and lived another sixty or so years afterwards, I'd say he's the luckiest unluckiest man in the world.

And I *can* say that, because I'm not going to Japan anyway.

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unlike...

my poor old uncle fred who died in his 20's - before hed even finished building that fucking railroad!

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Exactly Right

I grew up with a neighbour who was former "guest" of the Imperial Japanese armed forces. His wounds, all received post-capture, never healed up properly.

Never forget why those two devices were deployed. Never shy from reminding those who do, or who would pose and pout claiming offense on account of them.

And never, ever accept the excuse of "Culture" for what was done to those poor buggers who had the misfortune to be introduced to Japanese "culture" at sword-point after surrendering.

Understanding is a two way process, and there's no reason on this Earth that the meeting point should be anything but half-way.

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Anonymous Coward

".........but preferably out of earshot of the Japanese embassy"

Probably safe to do it around the Mexican Embassy, especially during siesta time!

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Joke

Overheard in Nagasaki in 1945:

"Ah Tsutomu, you brought the weather with you then?"......

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Unhappy

Pity

Its a pity that the Japanese people take such offence at this, and forget the fact that the brutal way that they treated people they invaded or captured during the war.

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Anonymous Coward

it is more of a pity

that people think that embassies convey the real meaning of the Japanese people.

I am pretty sure that most of Japanese would not care about it one way or another.

to (mis)quote Neal Stephenson:"The Japanese have treated the Philippines with their trade mark brutality till they got bombed to the stone age and remembered they were pacifists."

Can't be bothered to look up the real quote but it was something along these lines.

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I hope he never saw the Basil Brush show.

Japan: guardians of good taste and moral purity. Nothing for them to apologise for I guess.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_war_crimes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_whaling

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolicon

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WTF?

WHY?!

I saw that Episode, and I didn't get any negative vibes about what he said.

I mean in the One way Mr. Fry is correct in is statement, perhaps Mr. Yamaguchi was luckier then Mr. Fry had intimated, but given what a Atom Bomb could do to you (and that's before the massive Fireball!), I'd have come to a similar conclusion.

Given the choice between going quickly by massive incineration, or dieing a slow drawn out painful death due to Cancer & or Radiation poisoning and massive Third-degree Burns.

I'd opt for the former.

I'm kinda sure this was what Mr. Fry was hitting at.

Besides how many People get the BBC in Japan anyway?

I thought I was living on the Frontier (as to reception via Freesat), and I'm in Western Germany.

Perhaps it's the BBC that needs to regrow their Skin.

Besides that quip about the Mexicans' on Last Weeks Top Gear was far ~more~ offensive.

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Does this make Japan

a "no Fry zone"?

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WTF?

How come

How come when you make bad jokes like that you get 25 (now 26) up-votes, yet when I do, I'm lucky to get a few uppers and mostly downers?

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Because...

..it was a good one. You're firstly reading "You want Flied Lice with that?", I'm reading the agent of the gaff (Stephen FRY). THEN I got the "Flied Lice" bit.

Something about double-entendres.

That 'humour bypass' operation appears to have been a complete success.

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"QI presenter likely to bomb, decides BBC"

Best. Tagline. Ever.

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I fail to see what Japan was offended about

I saw the QI episode and it wouldn't even register as a 1 on the Top Gear scale of offensiveness. It was quite innocuous, harmless chit chat, the kind QI always engages in.

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Anonymous Coward

get a life

There is absolutely nothing wrong with those comments.

Oi Japan, what's ya beef?

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Kobe

That's their beef http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_beef

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Joke

I think...

you'll find it's Kobe.

Can't say how good it is as I'm veggie.

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It is good

I had it in Japan. Really nice.

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Not a Fry fan but...

... WTF are the Japanese complaining about? Surely not Fry's innocuous observation itself?

It's self-evidently unlucky to get nuked twice; but equally lucky to survive both bombings. I reckon it is much more like that the Japanese are hyper-sensitive about the bombings per se (which, I suppose, is understandable) just as they tend to be a tad touchy about us mentioning their pre-war treatment of Chinese civilians and wartime treatment of both civies and PoWs.

I never thought I'd find myself standing up for Stephen Fry (who, in other respects, I regard as a smug pompous oleaginous celebretard) but in this case I cannot see how any one would take offence at his remark.

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Stop

Neither side deserves praise.

Neither the Japanese nor the Americans deserve any praise with respect to their actions in WW2. I know what the Japanese did, and I have listened to the excuses used by the US to justify the atomic bombing of two cities.

If you've ever had occasion to read the civilian reports following the two explosions and they don't move you to tears, then, frankly, you're not human.

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What nonsense

I've heard quite enough of: "the Japanese may have raped women, tortured and conducted ghastly experiments on civilians and POWs, but then we dropped two atomic bombs on them, so it all kind of cancels out in the end".

Leaving aside the fact that Japanese military aggression started the Pacific war, for your argument to have any force you need to construct a scenario that could have ended the war without causing loss of life and suffering greater than that which undoubtedly occurred at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although those events have become iconic as the only military use of nuclear weapons, in the context of that war, I don't find what happened there different in kind from (say) the bombing raids on Hamburg, Dresden or Tokyo (or Coventry or London).

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Anonymous Coward

Sucker!

If you believe that the bombs were dropped to save the lives that would have been lost in an invasion then you are a sucker for propaganda.

The Japanese were prepared to surrender. The Yanks dropped them anyway.

Why?

To scare the Russians. It makes perfect sense if you read about the context at the time. Everybody feared the Soviets.

Over 90% of German casualties were inflicted by the Soviet forces, The war in the west was a side show by comparison. Battles on the eastern front sometimes involved hundreds of divisions.

Patton wanted to join forces with the remnants of the German army and go straight for Moscow.

The Americans were literally pissing in their pants when they discovered the Soviets had nukes there were calls in the government to nuke the whole country immediately.

Also, MacArthur really wanted to nuke Korea but was stopped by Truman who was probably losing sleep from what he had done.

But now, years later we are like "but were the good guys, we would *never* want to do anything bad like that unless we really, really had to. They made us do it."

"I don't find what happened there different in kind from (say) the bombing raids on Hamburg, Dresden or Tokyo (or Coventry or London)."

Good point. What's one more atrocity when you are committing them all over the place, eh?

Anyway, 20,000 died in Dresden. 200,000 because of the bombing of Hiroshima, not to mention the long term effects of cancer and mutations. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are in a different league from Dresden etc..

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A horrible necessary act

The atomic bombs must have caused appalling suffering for the victims who survived the initial blast. Even so they must be regarded for what they did achieve. Japan surrendered because of those attacks which negated the need for a full scale invasion.

Indirectly those bombs prevented possibly millions of casualties. If that sounds far fetched consider that the battle of Okinawa resulted in 150-250,000 casualties all told. For one relatively small outlying island of Japan. Imagine what the figure would have been like on the mainland.

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Oh dear

"The Japanese were prepared to surrender", yeah right - as Dr Xym points out, the evidence from Okinawa would rather suggest the opposite. Who's a sucker for propaganda now? The Japanese have had over 60 years of sliding out from under their responsibility for the war by hand-wringing about the atom bombs.

I'm not certain that the decision to drop the bomb was taken purely because of a belief that it would minimise the loss of life inevitable in producing an unconditional surrender - an object lesson to the Russians may well have been part of that calculation as well. Nevertheless, a net saving of life was almost certainly the result. BTW more people died in the bombing of Tokyo than at Hiroshima and your figure of 200,000 deaths is higher than the highest estimates I have seen, although whether it was 100,000 or 200,000 doesn't change the argument.

You seem to be under the illusion that you can fight a war without killing innocent civilians. That has never been the case and is the main reason why war should always be the last resort, not the first - a lesson unfortunately lost on so many of our modern leaders.

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Unhappy

True

Definitely was to scare the Russians and (horribly) it probably worked out better for the Japanese culture as a whole because had the Russians invaded (which they would have, having been at war with Japan previously) their culture would have been totally obliterated with them becoming part of the USSR.

One thing that people never mention either was that although the targets were military with a lot of civilian workers, much of the population of Hiroshima were actually foreign POWs.

It was a horrible thing to happen, lots of horrible things happen in wars. It doesn't "cancel it out" in any way, everything about it is horrible and no one really won or was in the right. We just have to make sure to remember the things that happened and learn from them so they never happen again.

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Thanks Semaj

An intelligent and heartfelt contribution. I'm afraid though, that I refuse to subscribe to the modern school of 'we are all guilty' moral relativism. While many wars in history have been fought for purely venal reasons, WW2 was the closest to the definition of justified war that we have seen. There was a 'right' side and a 'wrong' side, even if the 'right' side was far from perfect - German schoolchildren have been taught this since 1945, but Japan has yet to come to terms with it.

As for making sure that it never happens again - I'm all in favour, but sadly, short of major alterations to human nature, I can't see how to achieve it. Perhaps preventing psychopathic dictators from taking over countries - but that didn't work too well in Iraq, did it?

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Bah!

"The Japanese were prepared to surrender."

And yet, there's that pesky history thing showing that against all reason, they didn't. Not before the bomb fell on Hiroshima, and not after. It took the second bomb falling on Nagasaki to get them in the right frame of mind.

I guess they couldn't find anything to use as a white flag.

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Unconditional surrender

is the long and the short of it. As soon as the americans conceded not to criminally go after the japanese emperor, the japanese surrendered.

Pesky little facts indeed, but the time for A-bomb tests N° 2 and N° 3 was won.

Also, along with Dresden, Stalin was given a clear indication where to find his priorities for the next few years. As good a reason for mass murder of civilians as any. Does the name Klaus Fuchs ring a bell?

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Ah yes ... there's a 'right' side and you are on it

so that excuses everything. When Hitler _and_ Stalin invaded Poland the brits & french declared war on Hitler but _not_ on Stalin. Then, after a long and bloody wart hey proceeded to hand Poland as a gift to Stalin. That was one big success for freedom, was it not?

What German schoolchildren are taught is not to think overly much neither about this little detail nor about exactly how the "'right' side was far from perfect" indeed.

Something the british tend for obvious reasons to overlook: had they not sold out their japanese friends to their ex-colony in the 1930ies, they might actually have won the war (This being _not_ the same as being the winners best friend as you may perhaps _not_ have noticed). As it was, they lost their colonial empire and with it the base of their economic preeminence.

So yes, keep on firebombing civilians and blow your Marshall Plan aid on battleships afterwards, must feel fine to be congenitally morally superiour.

AC, obviously.

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"The Japanese were prepared to surrender"

No, they were not. Whilst the civilian government were keen to surrender, the military had made it quite clear that they had no intentions of surrendering - and that they expected the same "death before dishonour" attitude of ALL Japanese. An extract from the War Journal of the Imperial Headquarters translates as:

"We can no longer direct the war with any hope of success. The only course left is for Japan's one hundred million people to sacrifice their lives by charging the enemy to make them lose the will to fight."

Many people also seem to forget the attempted coup by a number of Japanese officers, AFTER the two atomic bombs were dropped, with a view to preventing the Japanese surrender.

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This is the eternal arguement...

I find it really sad to see how many people look at the bombings through jaded and narrow eyes, it’s because so many people choose to not see both sides, this argument will continue to burn for all eternity.

The truth of the matter is that both sides are right and both sides are wrong.

Q. Was it really necessary to bomb the cities if Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to bring an end to the war.

A. No, probably not, the Allied forces had already broken the back of the Japanese navy, by sinking many of its remaining aircraft carriers, which extremely limited Japan's fighting ability. Not to mention the joint agreement between soviet and allied forces to invade Japan.

Q. Did the use of Atomic weapons over Japan save millions of lives as the US government claims?

A. Absolutely! Without a doubt the dropping of Fat Man and Little Boy over Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved millions of lives over the course of time. The lives it saved were not necessarily on the immediate front, and the lives saved include those of the Japanese people as well.

As a wise old man once told me "The use nuclear weapons over Japan wasn't so much to break the will of the Japanese military as it was to keep Stalin at home while we divided up the real estate after the war was over. Had we not bombed Japan, the war machine that was the soviet military would likely have continued forward and not only occupied Japan, but most of Europe as well. The freedoms that Japan and most European countries enjoy today would never have been realized had we not dropped those bombs."

I believe wholeheartedly that though using atomic weapons may not have been completely necessary to bring WWII to an end, nor was it the most ethically or morally correct decision, however their use served a much greater and much more necessary purpose. Though the people who made the decisions to use these weapons some 65 years ago couldn't have imagined it, but the use of these weapons ultimately laid the ground work for many nations to gain their freedom and ultimately the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many of you will disagree with me on this, and that’s ok, but if you think about it from beginning to end, using these weapons made Stalin and his successors seriously rethink how their future invasion / battle plans, and ultimately took the winds out of their sails over the course of the next 45 years, when the Soviet Union finally collapsed.

Had we not done this, the Soviet Union would have continued a march across Europe, including occupying the UK, gaining strength over time, and eventually, would have attempted an invasion of North America. How successful that would have been? there’s no telling, that would have depended on the resources available to both sides at the time, but I can image that if the USSR were to actually pull the trigger on an invasion of US / North America, they would have made sure they had more than enough military resources / strength to accomplish their mission.

Now try to envision the sheer number of human lives that would have been lost over the course of time had this or anything even remotely similar taken place. I can imagine the figure would be in the tens if not hundreds of millions of lives sacrificed in the name of war had we not scared the shit out of Stalin in 1945, or at least put the fear of God in him. In all reality, I probably wouldn't be here today to type this comment, nor would many if any of you be here to read it.

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@AC (never was a handle more appropriate)

I agree, being on the right side does not excuse everything. Presumably you would have thought it equally honourable for Britain to have accepted Nazi terms in 1940 (as many members of the Cabinet wanted to do), kept the empire and left Hitler to settle matters with the Bolsheviks?

Certainly the post-war treatment of Poland was shameful, but again (if you're the same AC who started this thread; it's hard to tell, all cowards are so much alike) you need to suggest an alternative - how do you think a declaration of war on Stalin in 1945 would have gone?

I was protesting (and will continue to protest) against the imbecilic and historically ignorant mindset that insists on equating the actions of the Allies with those of the Axis. They were not, and will never be, morally equivalent.

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Never was that handle more necessary,

because showing the criminality of the winners will always and for pretty obvious reasons be misinterpreted as trying to excuse the criminality of the losers. I do not have time for _that_ discussion.

But seriously: why, tell me Mr. Miller, was war not declared on Stalin in 1939 when Britain and France were under an obligation to do so because of the guarantees they had given? And did you notice that I wrote 1939 and not 1945? That date is crucial, is it not?

Oh? No answer?

Ah yes, the actions of the winners were not, and will never be, morally equivalent (to those of the losers).

And to get back to our subject: that is a perfect excuse for incinerationg 100.000 civilians in Tokyo and another 80.000 in Hiroshima and another 70.000 in Nagasaki and to condemn another 100.000 to slowly and painfully die from burns and radiation illness. Which in turn is perfect material for british humour.

Ah, to be morally superiour because of ones passport - must feel good.

And as you talk about honour: it would have been honourable for Britain not to sell out their japanese friends to the americans during the thirties. Please take the time to research who helped build up the japanese navy in the first place and for which reasons.

(I am, by the way, not the coward who started this thread.)

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@AC2

Why not declare war on Russia in 1939? - because we would have lost you cretin - we (the Allies) only just managed to defeat the Axis powers as it was!

I'm not the one who appears to feel morally superior about my passport - although net, net I could easily argue that there's a pretty positive balance. But I get it, you hate the British - everything positive they may have done was by accident and everything negative was because we're intrinsically evil. Was your mother bitten by an Old English Sheepdog during pregnancy? Or has your nation been insulted by Top Gear at some stage? Or are you simply a French troll?

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WTF?

What?

Why is everybody so sensitive these days?

When I was young, real men just shrugged and carried on.

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Coffee/keyboard

@ Chrome

Awesome - but you still owe me a new keyboard :-)

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WTF?

A question

Who started that war anyway?

It's like a rapist begin a bit roughed up during arrest and all of a sudden he's the victim.

Of course individual Japanese civilians were victims. But "the Japanese" were not, they were the aggressors. If you prefer not to get bombed, it would be smart not to start a war.

And somebody should tell the Japanese ambassador just that.

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Anonymous Coward

Who started that war anyway?

"It's like a rapist begin a bit roughed up during arrest and all of a sudden he's the victim."

I've got an idea. Get your country to block all shipments (especially oil) going to the USA, and then see what happens. Yeah, After the USA attacks your country, I'm sure they will say that there was no provocation.

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Try looking this up

Unit 731

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Unit 731

yeah, right, good excuse for dropping atomic bombs on civilans, killing a quarter of a million noncombatants.

I did look it up and I was fascinated with how the unit's members had to answer for their crimes before a court of law:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731#Disbanding_and_the_end_of_World_War_II

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Blackadder goes Forth

I saw the show they're talking about and the comments, weren't actually that funny but neither were they offensive.

It's not as if anyone said Japan was dressed like a tart and she was asking for it.

At some point you have to make light of these things, to point out the ridiculousness of it all. A prime example is Blackadder goes Forth, an entire series dedicated to making light an event in which Millions died.

Perhaps we should just stop exporting comedy shows, nobody gets us.

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Slanty nosed tosser

NT

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Joke

I guess the BBC....

...never anticipated the fallout!!

That is all.

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I worked with a guy from Japan

His family was from Kokura (one of the planned targets in Japan). They decided not to bomb Kokura as it was overcast that day. You want a nice clear day in order to get a good bit of film showing how powerful your bombs are, so they bombed the other target.

He said he liked the UK's weather as its always overcast.

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Pint

Language?

We have a wonderfully ambiguous language in English, with so many ways to misunderstand something we have developed our wonderful sense of humour to handle situations where things can be misconstrued. A lot of other languages are the opposite, the language is very strict and direct to the point. The communication becomes direct, the humour follows suit.

English speakers can appreciate at least two interpretations in Fry's comment. It doesn't seem rude or offensive to me, it's seems like the sort of comment I would expect most people with a grasp of English to have made, i.e., loaded with ambiguity.

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FAIL

Send Fry to Japan, FFS

I can't think of anyone better equipped to offer a most humble, nay grovelling, apology to Japan in person, ingratiating himself with their people and come out of it smelling of roses while restoring relations.

Not that I think he has anything to apologise for, but it's far better than ducking for cover - or is that a bad turn of phrase in the circumstances?

And we can have an honest discussion about sensibilities, offence and unintended offence between Fry and the Japanese which I don't believe he'd shy away from for a minute. Come on BBC; be bold, be brave.

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Send him somewhere ...

Preferably somewhere without a net connection ... or a way out.

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Being fed propaganda?

In the unlikely event that any English speaking Japanese in Japan are reading this: has anyone over there actually heard this story and does anyone actually care what Mr Fry said?

Or are we just being fed a load of old pony by the press (who love a story like this) after one person took it upon themselves to complain?

(Bloody hell I'm feeling jaded and cynical today)

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No one in Japan even saw it..

I'm a Japanese speaking English in Japan.. does that count? Anyhow.. no, no one here cares. I don't think you can actually get any BBC tv without having a really expensive Pay TV package. Our IPTV doesn't have any BBC programming anyhow. Thankfully I have a fast usenet server...

If you have read the article you would have noticed that it was the Japanese embassy in London that made the complaint. So it was probably one person there that took offence.

Anyhow Fry not coming here is for the best.. we really don't need another loud mouth with a twitter account moaning about the natives being racist etc blah blah. Middle-class white people seem to count other people noticing them to be foreign as "racism" and find the need to write silly blogs and tweet about it on a daily basis.

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