2005年8月23日 (火)

For war-displaced, the scars never heal


For war-displaced, the scars never heal


Dainari Adachi was a 12-year-old middle school student in occupied Manchuria when World War II ended. His family lived in a small town near the border of the Soviet Union. On the day word arrived that Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, had admitted defeat in the war, he was playing outdoors as usual.

When Dainari returned to his home, his mother told him that Japan had lost the war. He was too young to know what that meant in practical terms.



A few days later, Soviet warplanes appeared over the town. One shot at the boy without warning, and he fled into nearby woods. "Although the war had ended in Japan, you might say the war actually started for me on that day," he recalls.


Soon, Soviet ground troops arrived. Dainari's father, a civil engineer, had died of illness several months before. With his mother and two younger brothers, Dainari was moved through a succession of internment camps. During this period, his youngest brother, a 2-year-old, died while being carried on his mother's back.

Food was scarce. It occurred to young Dainari that if he were not around, his mother and other brother would have more to eat. He left without saying even goodbye.


The boy found work on a frontier farm. Early in his 20s, he met his future wife, a woman named Motoko.

Motoko was the daughter of a Japanese farmer who had settled in the former Manchuria. She had fled with her mother from the invading Soviet forces. After her mother died, she was raised by Chinese foster parents.

It was not until 36 years after the end of World War II that the two war-displaced Japanese who married in China set foot in their mother country.


At the surrender, about 1.5 million Japanese were living in the former Manchuria. In the turmoil that followed, at least 200,000 are estimated to have died in raids by Soviet troops and Chinese residents, group "suicides," illness and other circumstances.

Their stories graphically illustrate how the wheels of fortune turned in different ways for these individuals, according to where they were on Aug. 15, 1945.


Today, Adachi and his wife live in Chiba Prefecture on a 60,000-yen monthly pension. His wife cannot speak Japanese. Being five years her senior, the husband wonders anxiously, "If I die before my wife does, what will become of her?"


--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 16(IHT/Asahi: August 17,2005)

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Obsessing blindly over our `assigned duties'


Obsessing blindly over our `assigned duties'


Because I was born two years after the end of World War II, obviously I was not around to experience the day of Japan's defeat 60 years ago on Aug. 15, 1945.

I can say, however, that this date has always been at the back of my consciousness.

Whenever I came across something that was related to this date or the days that preceded it, I was invariably compelled to ponder its meaning.



Various people have noted their thoughts and feelings about Aug. 15, 1945, in their diaries.

Each observation is striking in its own way, but the one I would like to dwell upon anew in this 60th anniversary year is a passage from "Haisen Nikki" (Journal on defeat in war) by novelist Jiro Osaragi, published by Soshisha.


Referring to his loss of sleep over worrying whether Japanese soldiers would be able to bear the indignity of defeat, Osaragi notes in part that the soldiers "had been taught to remain blind to anything other than their assigned duties ... ."

But this was not the lot of soldiers alone. The great majority of Japanese citizens had also been conditioned to focus solely on their "assigned duties."


When the war began, every soldier, politician, parent and child blindly sought to live up to their respective ideal images.

Missing the crucially important overall picture-namely, where the nation was really headed-the Japanese people withdrew into their rigidly defined roles.


There is something painfully pathetic about the intensity of their resolve.

But it was also this collective frenzy that allowed the nation to run amok and sacrifice the lives of a tremendous number of its own people as well as those of neighboring nations.

And I am pained to be reminded, too, of how the media pursued a grossly misguided cause.


Aug. 15 should be a day for each one of us to not only remember and mourn the dead, but also to ask ourselves once again whether we are still obsessing blindly over what we imagine to be our assigned duties.

I pray that our present postwar era will never go down in history some day as another prewar era.


--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 15(IHT/Asahi: August 16,2005)

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2005年8月12日 (金)

Virgin Mary statue witness to atomic bombing


Virgin Mary statue witness to atomic bombing


In Nagasaki, a monument stands at ground zero of the atomic bomb explosion. Standing there, I looked up into the sky at 11:02 a.m. Tuesday, the dazzling sun causing my eyes to blink. Precisely at that moment 60 years ago, the bomb detonated about 500 meters above the city.



The atomic attack is said to have made the world look as if the sun had come down on it. I tried to imagine the hellish scenes.

I closed my eyes to think, recalling pictures taken just after the attack, eyewitness accounts and exhibits at the local peace memorial museum, a mental exercise I do every time I visit Nagasaki.

As before, what I could imagine fell far short of what really happened. The gulf made me wonder if I had no choice but to repeat what other people have said: An odious act far exceeding the human imagination in its cruelty was committed by man.


On Monday, I met a woman on the premises of Nagasaki University, about 1 kilometer away from ground zero. She was watering flowers in front of a memorial for bomb victims. She said she was turning 70 this year. She was a fifth-grader in elementary school when the bomb was dropped. Though exposed to radiation, she survived because she was at her home, rather removed from ground zero.

Her father died, though. He was working in a now-defunct arms manufacturing factory in Nagasaki. "Even his body was not found," she said.


A statue of the Virgin Mary that was damaged in the blast was unveiled Tuesday at Urakami Cathedral standing on a knoll near ground zero.

Originally, the statue adorned the cathedral's altar. The blast nearly leveled the building, leaving only side walls standing. Later, only the upper part of the wooden statue was found and retrieved.


Up close, I saw that the statue was burned on the face and head. Bereft of eyeballs, the eye sockets were just black hollows.


The pathetic figure let out an unaccountably strong life force, however. It occurred to me that the lost part of the wooden statue symbolized what happened to Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

The statue, a witness to the atomic attack, seemed to be trying to convey memories of that 1945 day to future generations.


--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 10(IHT/Asahi: August 11,2005)

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2005年7月24日 (日)

Tourists must not be allowed to ruin Shiretoko


Tourists must not be allowed to ruin Shiretoko


One of the senryu humorous poems that appeared in The Asahi Shimbun on Tuesday gave me a wry smile: "Drunks and merrymakers/ Stay away from the hills of Shiretoko."


 昨日、本紙の「朝日川柳」に載っていた一句に笑いを誘われた。〈飲んで騒いで丘に上るな知床の/さいたま市 岸保宏〉。笑いといっても、苦い笑いである。

Hokkaido's Shiretoko Peninsula has been named a World Natural Heritage property by UNESCO.

The senryu poem by Yasuhiro Kishi, a resident of Saitama, raises concerns about the consequences of Shiretoko's new status.

Just like Kishi, many people must have taken the news as a mixed blessing. Environmental contamination caused by sharply increasing tourist traffic has been a problem for two natural properties earlier placed on the World Heritage list: Yakushima island south of Kagoshima Prefecture and the Shirakami mountain area straddling Aomori and Akita prefectures.


The U.N. heritage convention calls for the protection of areas' cultural heritage and nature from the threat of damage and destruction, because the sites are deemed treasures of humanity.

One thing we must keep in mind is that when the Japanese government recommended that Shiretoko be put on the World Heritage list, it effectively promised to the world that it would not let the peninsula's nature be damaged or destroyed.


In the 1980s, a campaign was organized to oppose the felling of trees in Shiretoko's state-owned woodland. It marked the start of persistent conservation efforts involving many people, which finally bore fruit last week when the UNESCO World Heritage Committee designated the peninsula as a heritage site.

Japan bears heavy responsibility for continuing conservation efforts. The benefit of the designation is that it offers a chance for us to take a new look at the nature of our country from a global perspective.


The international conference to found UNESCO was held in London in the fall of 1945, following the end of World War II. In a speech, Clement Attlee, then prime minister of Britain, stated that wars began in the minds of men.


This statement found its way into the UNESCO Constitution, which famously declares in its preamble that "since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed."

What does this mean specifically? Considering what the Constitution says, the implication is clear: If wars are to be avoided, countries need to have a good knowledge of one other.

My hope is that the untouched nature of Shiretoko will become the cornerstone of peace in the minds of people.


--The Asahi Shimbun, July 20(IHT/Asahi: July 21,2005)

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2005年7月10日 (日)

Wishes for peace during Tanabata festival


Wishes for peace during Tanabata festival


A fine drizzle fell from the leaden sky. Bamboo leaves rustled, and blue or yellow tanzaku strips of paper fluttered in the breeze.



I was walking along a street lined with Tanabata Star Festival decorations (The traditional festival celebrates the one night of the year when two star lovers meet in the sky). The branches of the bamboo trees were laden with the tanzaku "wish strips."

"Make me a millionaire!" screamed one tanzaku. Another wished for the "elimination of all unscrupulous business practices," while yet another said: "I want power. Grant me power." But most wishes were for the health and safety of one's family and friends.


Fifty years ago, novelist Sakae Tsuboi (1899-1967) contributed an essay titled "Tanabata-sama" to "Shufu-no-Tomo," a magazine for homemakers. Tsuboi wrote, "There is something delectably heart-warming and charming about the modesty of people's wishes on those tanzaku strips, hung here and there on little bamboo trees."


This is a timeless sentiment shared by many people today, but the era when this was written-10 years after Japan's defeat in World War II-was reflected in Tsuboi's following observation: "Ever since I got into the habit of writing my wishes with my children every year, I have always associated this festival with the Lugouqiao Incident (Marco Polo Bridge Incident) of July 7, 1937. It was the beginning of what eventually led to our defeat in that war."


On that night, Japanese and Chinese troops clashed near Marco Polo Bridge outside Beijing, triggering the Sino-Japanese War.

In "Rokokyo Jiken no Kenkyu" (A study of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident) published by the University of Tokyo Press, author Ikuhiko Hata notes, "Rumors were said to be flying among Japanese troops in China that something was going to happen on Tanabata day."


Tsuboi continued in her essay: "The Tanabata tradition gives us hope because even though the legendary lovers were allowed to see each other only once a year, at least they did get together every year. But many people around us are destined never to see their loved ones again. A friend of mine wrote `Peace' on a tanzaku and tied it to a bamboo branch."

Sixty years after the end of that war, "Peace" was written on many tanzaku that fluttered in the breeze.


--The Asahi Shimbun, July 7(IHT/Asahi: July 8,2005)

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2005年7月 1日 (金)

'Banzai Cliff' the site of a terrible tragedy


'Banzai Cliff' the site of a terrible tragedy


In July 1944, just after Imperial Japanese Army forces on Saipan were wiped out in heavy fighting, a U.S. newspaper ran a story headlined "Jeanne d'Arc on the island."

Philosopher and critic Shunsuke Tsurumi points this out in his explanatory note to the "Umiyukaba" volume of a series of writings on war produced during the Showa Era (1926-1989) and published by Shueisha. ("Umiyukaba" was a song in the wartime era.)



According to Tsurumi, a war correspondent wrote in the New York Herald Tribune that a surprise awaited U.S. soldiers when they reached the spot where Japanese forces had made their last stand. They found a nurse with abdominal wounds from a grenade she had detonated in a suicide attempt.

The reporter wrote that he admired the woman's Yamato damashii (Japanese fighting spirit).


The heroine, Shizuko Sugano, was just 18. Shortly after her birth in Yamagata Prefecture, her family emigrated to Tinian, a Northern Mariana Island near Saipan. When U.S. forces landed on Saipan in June 1944, she volunteered as a nurse at the Japanese army field hospital there.


Japanese defenders were driven to the wall. Sugano looked after the wounded soldiers, even though she knew that they would commit suicide before long. When U.S. soldiers approached the hospital, she was told to leave.

But she refused to take the advice. She was found unconscious after pulling the pin on the grenade.


Her journal of that horrifying time was later published as "Saipanto no Saigo" (The last day of imperial Japan on Saipan).

The nurse wrote about a horrible scene she witnessed from a truck that passed near a cliff on the way to an internment camp. Below the cliff dozens of bodies of Japanese women lay floating in the waves. They had all jumped.

Especially painful was the sight of the children strapped to their mothers' backs and chests, Sugano wrote.

The dreadful sight caused a U.S. officer to weep, she wrote. They wondered why so many Japanese had killed themselves.


Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have paid their first visit to Saipan. On Tuesday, memorial rites were to be held at the site, now called "Banzai Cliff" because the women who leapt to their deaths 61 years ago cried "banzai" as they jumped.

Much time has passed since the war, but it left us with unforgettable tragedy.


--The Asahi Shimbun, June 28(IHT/Asahi: June 29,2005)

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2005年6月26日 (日)

In memory of those who perished in Okinawa


In memory of those who perished in Okinawa


On June 23, 1945, the Imperial Japanese Army terminated its combat operations in the ferocious Battle of Okinawa. On that same date 15 years later, a new Japan-U.S. Security Treaty came into force.

Okinawa Memorial Day offers us the opportunity to reflect on more than 200,000 people who perished in that conflict. It also marks the decision to continue to maintain U.S. military bases in the southernmost prefecture under provisions of the security alliance with the United States.



After its defeat in World War II, Japan regained its independence by signing the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. Under this treaty, Okinawa Prefecture was placed under U.S. administration. The first Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was also signed at that time.


More than half a century has passed since then, during which time the Cold War passed into history.

Yet, the overwhelming presence of U.S. military bases is still a glaring reality in Okinawa.

When a U.S. Army helicopter crashed on a university campus last year, Japanese police were kept out of the accident site for days. It makes me wonder about Japan's sovereignty.


Whenever I visit Okinawa, I feel a chilling proximity to battlegrounds overseas. During the Vietnam War, U.S. forces used Okinawa as a staging area for aerial strikes against North Vietnam.


That military action began in 1965. French philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre, who visited Japan the following year, said at a lecture that every intellectual owed it to the world to keep exposing the fact that the Vietnam War was essentially the invasion of a poor nation by the world's most affluent nation-the United States.


The leading postwar existentialist declined the Nobel Prize for literature. Had Sartre lived, I wonder what the author of "Nausea," "The Wall" and "No Exit" would have to say about global developments from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the Iraq war.

Sartre died in 1980. This month marks the centennial of his birth.


--The Asahi Shimbun, June 23(IHT/Asahi: June 24,2005)

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2005年6月19日 (日)

Memories fading of brutal Battle of Okinawa


Memories fading of brutal Battle of Okinawa


``The Arawashi Repeats Ferocious Attacks in Okinawa, Burns Down Enemy Airfield,'' screamed The Asahi Shimbun's front-page headline on June 18, 1945. In reality, however, Okinawa was already as good as lost for the Imperial Japanese Army.



On the night of June 18, the army ordered the disbandment of Himeyuri Gakutotai, a corps of Okinawan high school girls and teachers serving as nursing aides to the medical unit in subterranean caves in the southern parts of the Okinawa mainland.

Ruri Miyara was a student in Himeyuri. In her book ``Watashi no Himeyuri Senki'' (My Himeyuri record of war) published by Nirai-sha, Miyara recalls: ``The disbandment order left me in a daze. Where was I supposed to go, abandoning the cave when the enemy was right out there?''


As she was emerging from the cave in the pre-dawn hours of June 19, she heard repeated calls for surrender in Japanese.

As she backed deeper into the cave, U.S. gas bombs exploded. Only five of the 51 schoolgirls and teachers in the cave survived.


The tragedy of the Himeyuri corps became a symbol of the Battle of Okinawa, in which it is believed that more than 100,000 Okinawans were killed.

The cave's entrance was later marked by a memorial monument, known as Himeyuri no To. And nearby, the Himeyuri Peace Museum opened in 1989.


Earlier this week, officials of Tokyo's Aoyama Gakuin Senior High School visited the museum to apologize for an earlier gross insult to the survivors.

In February, the school made up an entrance exam question in English, in which an imaginary student mentioned being ``bored'' by a personal account narrated by a Himeyuri survivor.

One former Himeyuri student, who gives talks at the museum, said: ``For years, it was too painful to recount my experience. But I began telling my story because I felt I had to. ... I was shocked (by what the school did).''


According to a recent issue of The Okinawa Times, a survey found that less than 60 percent of Okinawan senior high school students realize this year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa.

This made me wonder what the nationwide percentage might be.


--The Asahi Shimbun, June 17(IHT/Asahi: June 18,2005)

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Zico, a man who loves soccer, repays Japan

 僕は英辞郎を使って英語を読みまくり、インターネットラジオのNHKのラジオジャパン英語ニュース< /a>で時事英語を聞きまくってます。(^^;また、VOAでヴォイスレコーダーにDLしたMP3音声とテキストも楽しんでます。

Zico, a man who loves soccer, repays Japan


Zico, the coach of the Japanese national soccer team, was born Artur Antunes Coimbra in Brazil.

According to his autobiography, which was published by The Asahi Shimbun under the title "Jiko Jiden: Kamisama to Yobarete" (The autobiography of Zico: Being called god), it was his cousin Linda who gave him this nickname by which he is now known around the world.


 本名は、アルトゥール・アントゥネス・コインブラという。そのアルトゥールがアルトゥジーニョになり、アルトゥズィーコが簡略化されてズィーコ(Zico)になった。後に世界中に知れ渡るこの愛称を付けたのは従姉妹(いとこ)リンダだった(『ジーコ自伝 「神様」と呼ばれて』朝日新聞社)。

The voice of Zico resounded Wednesday in a neutral stadium in Bangkok, where the Japanese national soccer team battled North Korea. The empty stadium looked whitish.

The Japanese team came home in triumph Thursday, having scored a 2-0 victory in what surely must have been a most unusual game.


After assuring Japan's appearance in the World Cup finals in 2006, Zico said, "I am happy beyond words to be able to finally repay Japan for what it has done for me."

During his roughly three years as national team coach, there were times when his dismissal came under consideration.

But in this latest moment of victory, he must have felt strongly that his efforts were finally rewarded after struggling hard to live up to the expectations of Japanese soccer fans.


From time to time, Zico has made remarks that have left lasting impressions.

Right after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March 2003, he said: "I am absolutely devastated by the thought that just when we are playing sports, people are killing each other and little kids are dying. ... I grew up in Brazil, a peaceful country, and was taught the importance of love. I want the people who are fighting this war to think once again about love and peace."


And he says in his autobiography: "I ask you not to overestimate me. All I am is a man who loves soccer. I have perhaps made more efforts and sacrifices than the average person, just so I could keep playing soccer."


Zico obviously believes in each individual striving to live up to his or her potential. I look forward to seeing such individuals coming together from around the world to compete in Germany.


--The Asahi Shimbun, June 10(IHT/Asahi: June 11,2005)

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2005年5月 7日 (土)

What sort of nation does Japan want to be?


What sort of nation does Japan want to be?


On my ride back to Tokyo by Shinkansen from the Osaka-Kobe area, I opened a book published by FOIL titled ``Eiga Nihon-koku Kenpo Dokuhon'' (Primer on the movie ``Japan's Peace Constitution'').

This somewhat odd title needs explaining.


 阪神方面から帰京する新幹線で、『「映画 日本国憲法」読本』(フォイル)を開いた。この妙なタイトルには多少の説明が要る。

In late April, a preview was held in Tokyo of the documentary ``Japan's Peace Constitution,'' by John Junkerman. The film is based on interviews with a number of internationally acclaimed intellectuals on their thoughts about the Constitution.

About 700 people were present for the first screening. But 100 more had to be turned away because it was a full house. I watched it standing.

 4月下旬、東京で「映画 日本国憲法」(ジャン・ユンカーマン監督)の上映会があった。日本国憲法について世界の知識人が語るドキュメンタリーで、初回に約700人が来場した。当方は立ち見だったが、100人ほどが入れなかったという。

The ``primer'' was compiled from the movie.

Among those interviewed was John Dower, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of ``Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II.''

Dower observed that, ``Japan is a fine country, but it lacked the courage to speak with its own voice and clearly express any idea different from America's ... . If Japan wants to become an `ordinary country' like America, what a frightening prospect that is at this present moment ... since America is becoming a more militaristic society than ever.''


In Japan, public sentiment seems to be leaning toward revising the Constitution.

True, the status of the Self-Defense Forces is anything but spelled out in the Constitution. But there has been no serious debate on, say, the enormity of the consequences of Japan telling the world it intends to maintain full-fledged armed forces.


In this day and age, the United States has the power to change the future of the world, including Japan. Our relationship with the United States is surely an urgent matter .

Our priority should be to decide what sort of a nation we want to be, not to rush into amending the Constitution.


The bullet train I was riding was filled with families with young children. There appeared to be no parents who even thought about the possibility that their child might someday become a soldier in the future and go to a battlefield in a foreign land.


--The Asahi Shimbun, May 5(IHT/Asahi: May 7,2005)

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