Instead of accepting too much of what I have read in my textbooks, I have read up a bit about WW2 on my own and have always pondered, why in the USA is the brutality and actions of the Japanese during WW2 always downplayed compared with the brutalities and actions of the Nazis? In school I remember the only thing we were taught about the Japanese was that they attacked Pearl Harbor and then the Americans dropped the A-bomb to end the war. Before that and after that, it has always been Nazis this and Nazis that. We learned everything about concentration camps, Luftwaffe, Kristallnacht, and every school child has seen Schindler's List and read Anne Frank's diary. Our textbooks and teachers didn't spend nearly the same amount of time talking about the Japanese. If you are lucky, you may hear a bit about Japanese internment camps and maybe get to read "Farewell to Manzanar".
Is this due to some cultural attitude? If the USA had no front with the Japanese, that would make sense. But the Japanese did attack pearl harbor which was bad enough to force USA to join WW2 directly. Then the USA paid the same amount of attention/resources to both fronts as far as I can tell. It's not like the Americans only focused on the Nazis during the war. So why are the history books so biased? From what I can tell the brutality of the Japanese was on par with the Nazis if not more. They had just as grand plans to rule (half of) the world. The A-bombing of Japan, disarmament and dismantling of its military, and such a strong presence of Americans still to this day in Japan (like Okinawa) makes this even more perplexing.
An annoying side effect of this is having to explain to people that Japan wasn't exactly "nice" in the war. The most recent argument was with a friend who thinks it would have been perfectly ethical to A-bomb Germans but it was perfectly unethical to A-bomb the Japanese. The way the Japanese people have turned themselves around in the past 60 years, their pacifism, high morals and ethics, and such emphasis on honor, intellectualism, respect, and high regard for a fellow human being makes my explanations seem even more incredulous.
I know this is a rather "local" question (American history textbooks) and I am new here, not too familiar with this forum's nuisances. If this isn't appropriate or if this question can be bettered, please let me know and I will fix/remove it. And BTW, I am only talking about public school education until grade 12. Everything about the Japanese and the Nazis is out there but it's just that in school, Nazis are given much more focus for some reason. I hope this isn't some weird perception error on my part.