Balanced sites explaining the role of Japan in WW11 please.

My sixth grade son has reached the point in his Japanese elementary education where they are learning about the second world war.

His textbook covers the entire war in three pages, one whole page of which covers the aftermath of the Hiroshima bomb, and neither of the other two pages has any photos at all of Japan’s actions abroad, only photos of the damage caused in the firebombing of Tokyo, displaced and starving citizens etc.

I have not read the pages carefully yet as I need to sit down with a dictionary and work out exactly what it is saying, but the time has come for my bicultural son to hear a bit about the other side of the argument. How Japan got into the war, its attitudes and actions, and why the final bombs were dropped.

Trawling the internet it is very hard to find any balanced sites simply stating Japan’s role in the war without either demonising them or excusing them. Surely there must be some middle ground suitable for introducing my kid to his history.

Please could you recommend places to begin reading with a twelve year old?

Thanks in advance…

WW Eleven? I must’ve slept though WW3 through 10.
Seriously, I found this, for a start:

http://www.librarything.com/talktopic.php?topic=11527

No, nothing like that. If it’s fictional it’s not balanced. And a lot of the Japanese writers are either very much on the “Japan who committed atrocities” side OR on the “I don’t know what all the fuss is about side.”

What I am looking for is a fairly short account simply written of “First this happened, then Japan did that, then the allies responded with the other” kind of narrative. He needs to know the timeline and basic facts before we get into impressions and opinions.

Read “The rising sun” by John Toland, it has the complete story of WWII from the Japanese perspective

May I recommend starting with Wikipedia’s entry on The Empire of Japan and going from there?

The problem with Japan in WWII is that it’s a bit hard to be “balanced”.

Sure, the Japanese used a massive boost in military spending to avoid the worst of the Great Depression then found themselves with a massive military, some hurt feelings over being snubbed after they were on the allied side in WWI, and a lot of people in Manchuria looking at them funny… then their Oil got cut off and it’s a short step from there to paratroopers landing in the Dutch East Indies, Bombing Pearl Harbour, invading the Philippines, ordering bridges built over rivers in Thailand, and all the rest of the stuff you’ve seen in WWII movies that invariably ends in Atomic Instant Sunshine™ over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In short, the Japanese aren’t really blameless for a lot of the stuff that happened during WWII, much like it’s a bit hard to make excuses for Hitler invading Poland in 1939.

Still, if you’ve got any specific questions about Japan in WWII, I’m happy to do my best to answer them with the references I’ve got available, though…

You might try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_War

I’d also recommend Wikipedia as a starting point. It seems to me that the stated Neutral Point of View goal that Wikipedia strives energetically to maintain is exactly the standard you’re looking for.