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I'd like to go to a museum, or possibly a memorial or similar, that is about Japan's World War II history.

Criteria for such sites:

  1. Historically accurate. I want it to be honest about what Japan did in World War II. I don't want it to whitewash Japan's history, but on the other hand I'd prefer it not to be a nationalistic anti-Japan thing either.
  2. Include Japan's treatment of asians. As an Australian, I've heard a bit about Japan's treatment of Allied POWs. However, I haven't learnt much about Japan's treatment of asians or its own citizens. Also, in my personal experience on a social networking site, Japanese people (some of them seemingly normal people, not just trolls who only talk about politics) seem to be more active in denying atrocities against asians than denying atrocities against westerners.
  3. In Asia or Australia. Preferably not in the People's Republic of China, and definitely not North Korea. Japan would be fine, but I've heard that although some Japanese people attempt to build museums that are honest about World War II, sometimes politics makes things difficult for such museums.

What museums or the like are available?

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The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is where you would find what you are looking for in Australia. –  James Eldridge Sep 26 '13 at 1:49

2 Answers 2

I've been to Nagasaki Peace Park, I must say that it was quite impressive. If you consider also showing the suffering of the japanese themselves "white washing their role", then that place wouldn't fit the bill. Personally I didn't have the feeling that they were downplaying the role of the japanese in WWII.

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Does the park talk about Japan's actions in World War II? –  Andrew Grimm Sep 6 '13 at 22:18
It is mainly about the bombing of nagasaki, but yes there is some context exhibited –  andra Sep 7 '13 at 4:58

I don't think the museum you want exists, especially considering the breadth and width of WWII. For Japan it started in 1937 and encompassed an area ranging from the US Aleutian Islands to Australia and from Hawaii to present day Myanmar.

I think a combination of museums would be required to satisfy the criteria.

I would recommend Hawaii as a possible location. In Hawaii you have:

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

This monument is a collection of museums, ships, and static displays. It has two museums discussing the war in the Pacific, including events prior to US involvement. It's heavy on the US and Japanese history, but you're looking for Japanese history. It does mention Japan's treatment of Asians, appears to be historically accurate (understanding there's compromise and bias in almost any historic work). This is also the gateway to the USS Arizona.

USS Arizona Memorial The start of WWII for the US and best represents a significant decision for Japan. You may have to get in line early to get your free tickets for the ferry to the Arizona Memorial, depending on the state of US sequestration cutbacks.

Pacific Aviation Museum

This is a building and a hanger on Ford Island about twenty minutes from the Valor in the Pacific Monument. The hanger was attacked by the Japanese and still bears some bullet holes. This covers Pacific aviation, not just World War II, but there is a dose of Japanese aviation including an diorama and pieces of a Japanese plane that crashed on a Hawaiian Island and the story behind the events.

USS Missouri

The location of Japan's surrender for WWII, you can stand on the exact location of the surrender. Still bears the scars of a kamikaze attack. Otherwise it is a battleship museum.

This comes close to satisfying all three criteria.

Historically accurate, although it has a US bent, I'm confident that most military museums emphasize their countries militaries; consider the target audience.

Includes Japan's treatment of Asians But not in great detail, more tangentially. I don't think it talks about Japan's treatment of it's own citizens very much nor does it address things like the Rape of Nanjing.

In Asia or Australia It takes about as long to fly from Australia to Hawaii as it does to fly from Australia to Korea, depending on where in Australia you depart from. Hawaii isn't Asia, but I think Hawaii fulfills the intent.

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I went to one museum or memorial in Pearl Harbor (not sure which one), where I found out about suicide torpedoes, but didn't really learn an awful lot about Japan. –  Andrew Grimm Sep 6 '13 at 23:40

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