letters: The atomic bomb spared further wartime disaster

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As the daughter of a former Japanese POW, I have great difficulty accepting the inaccuracy in the reporting of the circumstances of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

At the end of July 1945, the Allies promised ‘prompt and utter destruction’ if the Japanese failed to surrender. The Japanese military hierarchy decided to call the Allies’ bluff and the result was the bomb on Hiroshima.

They were now aware it was not an empty threat, yet knowing of the sufferings and deaths of their own people they still refused to surrender – thus inviting the bomb on Nagasaki. It finally took the intervention of emperor Hirohito himself before surrender was declared.

While it is now accepted that there would have been a loss of millions of lives if the war had continued, it is not well known that plans had been made to execute all POWs and civilian internees if Japan or any of its territories was invaded, in a document, The Final Disposition of the Prisoners, issued to camp commanders in October 1944.

By the time the bombs were dropped, all the POWs in North Borneo had been killed and preparations were at an advanced stage elsewhere.

My father was one of those POWs. He weighed just five and a half stones when he was liberated. Over the course of three and a half years, he had been beaten and brutalised and seen many of his comrades die from starvation, cruelty and overwork. His time as a POW of the Japanese overshadowed the remainder of his life.

While many people said that the Japanese should be obliged to pay compensation to the POWs he disagreed, saying that no amount of money could make up for what they had suffered.

Agnes Dougan, Castle View, Newmains, Wishaw

Rent controls can have adverse consequences

It is clear that rent controls as experienced in the UK in the past and currently in other countries can bring unintended consequences, pushing up prices and reducing quality rather than heralding more affordable tenancies.

In light of this, the response to the Scottish Government’s consultation ‘a new tenancy for the private rented sector’ published last week makes for interesting reading.

There was overwhelming support from both the PRS industry and tenant bodies for annual rent reviews, an extended notice period for tenants and redress to an adjudication authority when rises were deemed unreasonable.

However, there was also resistance from 70% of respondents to the introduction of rent controls.

This resistance is perhaps understandable given the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics for July tell us that private rents in Scotland rose by just 2.1% over the year.

It is evident that great progress has been made raising the standards of Scotland’s private rented sector in recent years, a sector which is home to 330,000 diverse households.

What drives up rents is lack of supply and I believe that the latest consultation shows what’s needed now is constructive dialogue to consider how Scotland can boost supply, delivering even better choice and quality and a stable regulatory environment that encourages pension funds and savers to invest.

Let’s deal with housing affordability in a rounded way and not rush into a crude system of rent controls that often makes matters worse.

Dan Cookson Head of Research at Lettingweb for PRS 4 Scotland, Dublin Street, Edinburgh

EU membership is no aid to UK universities

Derek Hammersley of the European Movement would have us believe that remaining in the EU is vital to the future of our universities (letters, August 5). This is simply nonsense.

Britain has two of the top five and seven of the top 50 research universities in the world, including the University of Edinburgh. Only the USA has more. The anglosphere is way ahead of any other grouping in terms of top academic institutions.

European students flock to the UK because of that fact, and because English is the lingua franca of the modern world. (Scotland’s discriminatory student funding system helps too.)

Hammersley is clutching at straws when he says that Scottish institutions have received a little over 1.25% of EU research funding in recent years. On the basis of the quality of our universities, including Edinburgh, Heriot Watt and St Andrews, we should be receiving considerably more. Also, the EU is simply giving us back a modest proportion of the money we send to them.

Anyone who visits the science campus around Kings Buildings will be struck by the large number of Chinese postgraduates. They could go anywhere, but they choose to come here, because they know that Edinburgh University is one of the best in the world.

Otto Inglis, Inveralmond Grove, Edinburgh

RE teaching includes other faiths and none

Neil Barber is keen to change RE in Scottish schools but fails to understand that children already learn about faiths other than Christianity and indeed about atheist beliefs too, in most state schools (letters, August 6.)

What Mr Barber seems to want in reality is for his own set of secular humanist beliefs to be given pre-eminence in schools and not simply equivalence, as he claims.

Fortunately the Scottish Government, mindful of our Christian heritage and national traditions, seems reluctant so far to bow to the anti-Christian views of Mr Barber and his tiny cell of atheist activists, many not educated in Scotland themselves, who seem intent on further weakening Christianity here.

Gus Logan, York Road, North Berwick