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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:52 03/09/2007
News Review #22: April 16, 2002

Rumbles from a distant war

Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE

"Rumbles from a distant war"
Sydney Morning Herald

This is a lengthy article of close to two thousand words. But it is worth it. It is a nice little reading that calmly and thoroughly explains policy developments and possible change of attitudes among Japanese people toward international armed confrontations.

The story starts out by introducing a victim of the Great Tokyo Air Raid during WWII, five months before the atomic bombs, in which three hundred U.S. B-29s bombed Tokyo, killing 100,000 civilians. The article does not condemn the U.S. for its act, nor does it try to justify it. It quietly suggests the depth of scar left in the mind of the then only eleven year old boy, who still occasionally becomes upset by his memories, and disapproves war as a cry from his heart.

Then Hideo Den, one of the notable pacifists in real politics, who was once assigned to a suicide submarine mission, only to be saved by the termination of the war, talks of his determination to hold firm against any sort of military operations.

The article, however, is not propaganda by pacifists. It then cites the comments of Hisahiko Okazaki, who has been advocating for increase of Japan's defense role, by further harmonizing the actions of its self-defense force with American troops.

"The leaders of the war have all died out," says Okazaki. "They knew the war and strategy, but the people who were in their 20s then only knew the suffering and the strong discipline of the Imperial Army and the misery of the bombing and so on. That's a common man's experience of war and doesn't contribute to the general understanding of war."

The story was inspired by the Japanese diet presently considering a set of new legal framework to cope with national emergency, which includes procedures to follow in case Japan is attacked. It describes the change of sentiment among Japanese people, suggesting that since the incident of September 11 and the events that followed, they have become more receptive to ideas for Japan to have stronger military force.

This is a compact but comprehensive, relatively unbiased, and almost touching report on the mixed feelings and bewilderment many Japanese are experiencing today, amidst the Constitution that forbids maintenance of armed forces and ever increasing actual invasions by unidentified ships assumed to be involved in malevolent operations.

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