Japanese Emperor Meiji allowed many freedoms during the Meiji Restoration, 1868-1912.
The country industrialized, adopted many Western ideas, allowed voting, ended feudalism, permitted private citizens to own land, and abolished the historic distinctions of four social classes, though the samurai class opposed this.
In 1905, Japan won a war against Russia.
By the early 1900s, Japan expanded into one of the largest maritime empires in history.
Citizens of Japan experienced unprecedented freedom and prosperity during the "Taishō democracy," 1912 to 1926.
Japan's economy successfully survived World War I.
This all changed with the 1929 Stock Market Crash and Great Depression, which had global repercussions.
Exports from Japan to America and other Western nations dramatically dropped off, causing a financial crisis. This worldwide economic panic allowed Stalin to seize more power in Russia, Hitler in Germany, and Mussolini in Italy.
Similarly, Shōwa Emperor Hirohito and his generals, inspired by a resurgence of the nationalist spirit of the samurai, centralized power into a Japanese totalitarian, militaristic state.
Power concentrated so much, that the emperor was revered by some Shinto followers as an incarnate divinity who must be obeyed without question, whose subjects were forbidden to criticize.
In 1941, it was the world's 3rd largest naval power, with the 9th largest economy.
It made an alliance with Germany and Italy.
In 1942, over 20,000 Americans and Filipinos died on Bataan's Death March, where starving prisoners were marched 65 miles in heat and jungles to a disease infested camp.
Similar to jihad suicide-bombers, kamikaze suicide-pilots were indoctrinated with the honor-shame samurai code -- that it was more honorable to die killing the enemy than to shamefully surrender and be captured.
Japanese fought fiercely, resulting in over 100,000 deaths as the Allies took Okinawa and Pacific islands through 1945.
An incident in the Pacific War occurred September 2, 1944, when U.S. Navy torpedo-bombers were on a bombing raid near Chichi Jima in the Bonin Islands, 700 miles south of Japan.
As recorded in the book Navy Wings of Gold (3rd edition, 2010), Japanese boats sped from the shore and quickly captured nine of the ten downed pilots.
The tenth pilot was able to get further out to sea before ejecting.
He was only saved by the circling plane of American pilot Lt. "Blackie" Adams.
"Blackie" Adams kept shooting at the Japanese boats till the submarine, USS Finback, could rescue the last downed pilot.
The rescued pilot was 20-year-old Lt. George H. W. Bush.
When Bush saw the submarine providentially surface near him, he thought he was seeing an hallucination.
Had he not been rescued, he most certainly would have suffered the fate of the other nine captured pilots in what became known as the Chichi Jima Incident.
The book Flyboys: A True Story of Courage (2003) recorded what happened to Bush's fellow pilots.
Imperial officers Lt Gen. Yoshio Tachibana and Major Sueo Matoba ordered them to be beaten and cannibalized, sometimes amputating only one limb at a time.
TIME Magazine reported in an article, "National Affairs: Unthinkable Crime," September 16, 1946, that two of the soldiers were beheaded and their livers eaten.
Imperial military embraced the samurai code, preferring killing one's self in hara-kiri more honorable than capture.
As a result, they held contempt for captured prisoners of war.
The Telegraph (Feb. 6, 2017, published an article "George H.W. Bush narrowly escaped comrade's fate of being killed and eaten by Japanese captors":
"Lt George Bush, then a 20-year-old pilot, was among nine airmen who escaped from their planes after being shot down during bombing raids on Chichi Jima, a tiny island 700 miles south of Tokyo, in September 1944 - and was the only one to evade capture by the Japanese ...
... The former President George H.W. Bush narrowly escaped being beheaded and eaten by Japanese soldiers when he was shot down over the Pacific in the Second World War, a shocking new history published in America has revealed.
The book, Flyboys, is the result of historical detective work by James Bradley, whose father was among the marines later photographed raising the flag over the island of Iwo Jima."
The two Imperial officers who ordered the gruesome acts were found guilty of war crimes and executed.
U.S. Marine fighter ace Greg "Pappy" Boyington, of the Black Sheep Squadron, was also shot down in the Pacific, January 1944.
He was a prisoner of war for a year and a half, and his biography attests to similar horrendous treatment.
Realizing that every Japanese soldier would fight to the death instead of surrender, Democrat President Harry Truman made the secret and controversial decision August 6, 1945, to drop the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The reasoning was that, though devastating, it would prevent an additional one million casualties on both sides from a long, continuing war.
Emperor Hirohito finally made the official surrendered aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay, on SEPTEMBER 2, 1945.
After the war, George H. W. Bush graduated from Yale.
He worked in the Texas oil industry and entered politics, being a Congressman, Ambassador, Director of the C.I.A., Vice-President, and eventually the 41st President of the United States.
In his Inaugural Address, George H.W. Bush, January 20, 1989, he stated:
"I have just repeated ... the oath taken by George Washington 200 years ago, and the Bible on which I placed my hand is the Bible on which he placed his ...
My first act as President is a prayer ...
Heavenly Father ... Make us strong to do Your work ... And if our flaws are endless, God's love is truly boundless."
A story of redemption occurred after World War II.
Mitsuo Fuchida was the Imperial Japanese Navy pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, shouting, "Tora, Tora, Tora."
Mitsuo Fuchida was depicted in the 1970 Movie Tora, Tora, Tora.
"Tora," meaning "tiger" was the Japanese code word meaning, the enemy is caught in complete surprise.
In 1950, after World War II was over, Fuchida became a Christian, then an evangelist, and then in 1960, an American citizen.
His story was written in Readers Digest "God's Samurai: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor" (February 1954).
Mitsuo Fuchida wrote in his biography From Pearl Harbor to Calvary (1953):
"I was in Hiroshima the day before the atom bomb was dropped ...
Fortunately, I received a long distance call from my Navy Headquarters, asking me to return to Tokyo.
With the end of the war, my military career was over, since all Japanese forces were disbanded. I returned to my home village ...
... Though I was never accused, Gen. Douglas MacArthur summoned me to testify ...
As I got off the train one day in Tokyo's Shibuya Station, I saw an American distributing literature.
When I passed him, he handed me a pamphlet entitled "I Was a Prisoner of Japan" (published by Bible Literature International) ...
What I read was the fascinating episode which eventually changed my life ..."
"Jake DeShazer ... volunteered for a secret mission with the Jimmy Doolittle Squadron - a surprise raid on Tokyo from the carrier Hornet ... After the bombing raid ... DeShazer found himself a prisoner of Japan ....
... There in the Japanese P.O.W. camp, he read and read (the Bible) and eventually came to understand that the Book was more than an historical classic ...
The dynamic power of Christ, which Jake DeShazer accepted into his life, changed his entire attitude toward his captors. His hatred turned to love ..."
Fuchida wrote further, that after the War:
"DeShazer ... returned to Japan as a missionary. And his story, printed in pamphlet form, was something I could not explain ...
Since the American had found it in the Bible, I decided to purchase one myself, despite my traditionally Buddhist heritage ...
... In the ensuing weeks, I read this book eagerly.
I came to the climactic drama - the Crucifixion. I read in Luke 23:34 the prayer of Jesus Christ at His death:
'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do' ...
... I understood the meaning of His death as a substitute for my wickedness, and so in prayer, I requested Him to forgive my sins and change me from a bitter, disillusioned ex-pilot into a well-balanced Christian with purpose in living ...
I became a new person. My complete view on life was changed by the intervention of the Christ I had always hated and ignored before ..."
"I have traveled across Japan and the Orient introducing others to the One Who changed my life.
I believe with all my heart that those who will direct Japan - and all other nations - in the decades to come must not ignore the message of Jesus Christ.
... Youth must realize that He is the only hope for this troubled world ...
I would give anything to retract my actions of twenty-nine years ago at Pearl Harbor, but it is impossible.
Mitsuo Fuchida concluded:
"Instead, I now work at striking the death-blow to the basic hatred which infests the human heart and causes such tragedies.
And that hatred cannot be uprooted without assistance from Jesus Christ."
Read as PDF ... Pacific World War II with Imperial Japan; and accounts of Lt. Bush's rescue & Mitsuo Fuchida's redemption "From Pearl Harbor to Calvary"