Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: WW2

Episode 278 – The Men Who Stayed Behind

This week we investigate the role of Japan in laying the groundwork for Vietnam’s wars against France and the United States. How did Japan’s occupation of Indochina create the groundwork for the Viet Minh? And why did some Japanese soldiers, given the choice to return home in defeat or stay behind and fight on behalf of a country other than their own, take up the Vietnamese cause?


Spector, Ronald. In the Ruins of Empire.

Goscha, Christopher. “Belated Asian Allies: The Technical and Military Contributions of Japanese Deserters” in A Companion to the Vietnam War.

Tokyo Foundation Report: Betonamu Dokuritsu Sensou Sanka Nihonj9in no Jiseki ni Motodzuku Nichi-Etsu no arikata ni Kansuru Kenkyu (Japanese)


Vo Nguyen Giap with Viet Minh, 1944. The rise of the Viet Minh brought the group to the attention of Japanese officers in Vietnam, who considered them a far more palatable alternative than restored French control in the region.

British soldiers arrive in Saigon to accept Japan’s surrender. Many Japanese officers, ordered to hand over their weapons in ceremonies like this, instead arranged for those weapons to be recovered by the Viet Minh.

Japanese troops move into North Indochina, 1940. Japan’s destabilization of the area created the conditions that helped Ho Chi Minh rise to prominence.

Episode 268 – The Right thing for the Wrong Reasons

Today, we cover one of the most unusual stories of WWII: the policy of saving and protecting Jews pursued by some among Japan’s military leadership. How did anti-semitic ideas about a global conspiracy convince some in Japan that the Jews could be their allies? How many were saved? And what does it all mean?


Goodman, David and Masanori Miyazawa. Jews in the Japanese Mind: The History and Uses of a Cultural Stereotype.

Shillony, Ben-Ami. Jews & The Japanese

Gao, Bei. Shanghai Sanctuary: Chinese and Japanese Policy Toward European Jews


The synagogue in Harbin, Manchuria
children in Shanghai during the Second World War

One of the main streets of the Shanghai Ghetto in 1943.
This image gives you some idea of how cramped living space was in the Shanghai Ghetto. 
Polish refugees arriving in Shanghai
Yasue Norihiro, one of the two leading men behind the initiative to protect Jews within Japan
Inuzuka Koreshige, also a leader in the initiative to protect Jews within the empire
Despite having been proven a forgery back in the 1920s, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion remains a go-to for anti-semites in Japan and around the world. This edition was edited by Japanese anti-semite Ota Ryu in the 1990s. 

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