I say "significantly" because the omission of this contemporary form of killing was for me striking evidence of the remote and archaic nature of the forces that had invaded the Japanese spirit. Awareness of this dark invasion actually made it impossible for those of us who were prisoners to have personal feelings against our captors. Even at our worst moments of torment, we generally viewed the Japanese as puppets of such immense impersonal forces that they did not really know what they were doing.It was amazing how often men would confess to me, after some Japanese excess worse than usual, that for the first time in their lives they had realized the truth, and the dynamic liberating power, of the first of the Crucifixion utterances: "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." I found that the moment one grasped this fundamental fact of our prison situation, forgiveness became not an act of will or of personal virtue, but an automatic and all-compelling consequence of understanding. The tables of the spirit strangely and promptly turned, and we found ourselves without self-pity of any kind, feeling instead deeply sorry for the Japanese, as if we were the free men and they the prisoners--men held in some profound oubliette of their own minds.
It's difficult to put yourself in his shoes. I imagine I'd be filled with hate and fear, not pity.
Laurens van der Post on Japan and Hiroshima.
UPDATE - the link's a bit iffy - I think their site's got the bonnet up. If you can't link, go to the home page and search (box is top right) for "Laurens". It's the first returned piece.