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Treading the fine line between past and present, This Week, in History is a round-up of the latest historical events and findings which continue to impact the world today. This week, we look at Japan’s continued attempts to forget their colonialist past, the shameless hypocrisy of Bill O’Reilly and Hong Kong jewel thief Yip Kai-foon.
Bill O’Reilly Plays Himself Out
Bill O’Reilly, host of The O’Reilly Factor has at last been let go from Fox News after fifty advertisers dropped out of his show and women’s rights groups pressured the network into responding adequately to the string of sexual harassment charges brought against him by five different women.
Although he will receive a pay-out of $25m, still the network’s decision is partially satisfying in that it shows that they are at least willing to address the rampant issues with sexual harassment left unchecked during Roger Ailes’ tenure as CEO of Fox News. Add to this, the small symbolic victory of seeing his old talk-at-you show looking barren under its new title, The Factor, the fact that his replacement is none other than the perpetually confused Tucker Carlson and his dismissal has inspired many to share every damning comment from his archive, and really, one cannot feel but a tinge of optimism.
Regarding the latter, the obvious ones include telling Lamont Hill that he looked like a cocaine dealer and the classic “fuck it, do it live” temper tantrum brought on by Sting musical performance “to play us out”. However, a fine nugget has been uncovered by the Reagan Battalion, the conservative news group who previously reminded us of Milo Yiannopolous’ theory on the benefits of paedophilia.
Taken from his 2002 book, The O’Reilly Factor, soon to be rechristened The Factor, once he revises this specific passage, the extract will serve as a nice footnote to those interviews, in which O’Reilly pandered to Donald Trump by insisting that he has the president’s back.
“What’s up with the hair, Donald? Things are bad up there. He tried a scalp reduction operation a few years ago, but that wasn’t a huge success, they say. Maybe that’s why he’s a success, they say. Maybe that’s why he’s so mean-spirited. Not long ago, he tried to throw some little old lady off her property in Atlantic City. Bad. But she was a tough bird who had run an Italian restaurant for years, and she fought back with lawyers. She won, but it cost her. This is the guy who said he would be good for the country as our next president. How so? Would we all be forced to live in condos? Trump is rich, which is supposedly good in America, but the man is bad, and he knows it.”
And now, to play himself out, here’s Bill.
1980’s Hong Kong Criminal Icon Yip Kai-foon Dies, Aged 55
Yip Kai-foon, one of Hong Kong’s most notorious gangsters died this week, aged 55. Noted for being the first robber in Hong Kong to use an AK-47 as his weapon of choice and infamous during the 1980’s for a string of jewel heists, Yip succumbed to lung cancer while serving a 41-year prison sentence.
Nicknamed “Dog Teeth”, Yip was born in Guangdong, China. His first proper foray into the world of robberies came in 1984, when at the age of 23 he led five men into two Hong Kong jewelry stories and stole $700,000 worth of goods. Arrested two months later, he was handed an 18 year prison sentence, but managed to escape in 1989 after faking a stomach ache, which culminated in him holding off two police officers with a broken bottle in the toilets at Queen Mary Hospital.
Two years later, he would return to the public eye when he stole $5.7m from a store in Kwun Town. Managing to evade Hong Kong authorities by quickly fleeing into mainland China upon completing each operation, by 1992 he carried a $1m bounty over his head, and sat on top of Hong Kong’s unofficial Most Wanted List, deemed as such for fear of glorifying those on the shortlist.
Of course, this failed, as Yip became a cultural icon, portrayed in a number of films over the past two decades and remembered as much for his potentially having been a murderer, as he was for the trench coat he wore for each robbery.
Arrested again in 1996, the resultant confrontation with police saw him take a bullet to the spine, which permanently paralyzed him from the waist down. In later years, Yip went on to become an advocate for the improvement of prison conditions (or at least his own) and a repentant Christian, who acknowledged his wrongdoings, but maintained his innocence, which doesn’t really make much sense, unless you remember the fact that he was a Christian.
Japan’s Hyperlink Cover-Up
The Japanese Cabinet Office has come under fire for its current depiction of the 1923 Korean Massacre. According to Japan’s national newspaper the Asahi Shimbun, while renovating their website the Office conveniently made a single error, which saw them erase a hyperlink to a 2009 report on the violent aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1923.
The Earthquake resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 citizens residing in the Tokyo and Yokohama prefectures. However, in its immediate aftermath, enraged Japanese citizens accused Koreans living in the country of poisoning a number of wells, while alleging that they intended to use the disaster as an opportunity to riot. These rumors were acted upon by police, vigilante groups and the military, who brutally attacked and lynched an estimated 6,000 people in the Tokyo-Kanagawa region. The actual numbers remain open to speculation as the Imperial Government, over the course of almost a century refrained from investigating the massacre.
Concerning the specific paper, one of the main conclusions drawn was that the event should be classified as a massacre, and this agreement, an unnamed spokesperson told the Asahi Shimbun angered a number of people.
“Many people criticized the content. We have decided not to carry it, also because it has been on [the website] for seven years.”
And who could argue with that? Time heals all wounds.
People disliking the facts surrounding the massacre is nothing new though. In 2013 a school textbook, which described the lynching of Koreans was swiftly recalled in Yokohama, with one member of the Liberal Democratic Party expressing his concerns that such information could have a devastating impact on perceptions towards Japanese history and international diplomacy.
In other words, the current attitude towards the massacre remains indicative overall of Japan’s official historical narrative, which is to say: It was all excellent, save for that brief time when it wasn’t, but let’s just remember the good things, because they were good.