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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #128: May 8, 2003

Former U.S. Sen. Hatfield gets Japan's highest honor

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Former U.S. Sen. Hatfield gets Japan's highest honor"
(The Associated Press) Statesman Journal


"Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure", whatever it really means, is a very prestigious honor Japan would present. Seven Japanese and two foreigners, including Mr Hatfield, received the medal this year. There is technically an honor above this rank, but it is reserved almost exclusively for very senior Japanese politicians.

Oregon, Mr Hatfield's home, and its largest city Portland has had long and strong relationships with Japan. Perhaps one of the oldest and to a certain extent controversial was with Yosuke Matsuoka, a Foreign Minister of Japan during WWII.

At the age of 13, Matsuoka went to Portland, and eventually graduated from University of Oregon in 1901. He returned to Japan and joined the Foreign Service, where he eventually served as the Foreign Minister at the beginning of WWII.

On February 24, 1933, Matsuoka, as the head of delegation from Japan, faced with unanimous opposition to Japan's establishment of the state of Manchuria, made the famous speech for Japan to withdraw from the League of Nations at the General Assembly in Geneva, which became a turning point for the flow of history toward WWII. After the meeting, he took the westward route to return home, crossing the US. He stopped over at Portland and made a donation to raise a tomb for the lady owner of the lodging house where he had stayed during his college years. He said upon making the donation, "I spent my youth here, and acquired the love for the land that would stay for the rest of my life." He also made a small speech in front of the immigrants from Japan, and told them "to be respectable US citizens."

Mr Hatfield, during the war, as stated in the article, experienced all three of the most tragic and deplorable scenes in the Pacific front of WWII, Iwo-jima, Okinawa, and Hiroshima. Battle of Iwo-jima consumed the lives of nearly 30,000 soldiers from both sides. At Okinawa, 94,000 Japanese soldiers, 14,000 American soldiers, and about 100,000 civilians were killed. The first nuclear bomb in history was used to destroy the city of Hiroshima, killing 140,000, almost all civilians.

Experiencing the extremes of misery of war and its consequences apparently altered Mr Hatfield's hostile feeling from toward Japan to war and violence in general. In 1960, when Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko, now the Emperor and Empress, toured the US to commemorate the centennial of the first trade and friendship treaty between the two countries, Mr Hatfield, as the Governor of Oregon at the time, escorted them throughout the couple's stay in Portland.

Later, as a Senator he functioned as an ardent proponent for nuclear disarmament, and his efforts brought an end to the proliferation of nuclear weapons culminated in 1992 with the passage of legislation he authored calling for an end to U.S. nuclear testing. He dedicated his career to preventing and ending armed conflict and improving the human condition.

Mr Hatfield could be called a warrior of peace, but more appropriately, he is a believer in peace who has endeavored to realize his belief in a most orthodox manner, through the political theater. As such, Mr Hatfield well deserves the honor from Japan.

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications