“Japan had started a self-defensive war.”
KURABAYASHI KAZUO is a retired Major General with Japan’s Air Self Defense Forces. He is also the Secretary General of the Association for Rewarding the Spirits of Dead Soldiers, whose members and supporters include high-ranking government and military officials.
“What kind of war they participated in and whom they fought against could not be considered.”
FURUKAWA YOSHIKO and KAMISAKA REIKO are homemakers who took their municipal government to court over the reconstruction of a memorial shrine to the war dead.
“Although it is already one half century ago since the crimes were committed,
as human beings at least we have to make it clear who was responsible criminally.”
MATSUI YAYORI is the organizer of International Women’s Tribunal 2000. She began her investigation of Japan’s wartime military sexual slavery while she was the South East Asia bureau chief of Asahi Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper.
“Because of the Kimigayo anthem and the Hinomaru flag, we lost our humanity. It took so long for me to recover mine.”
SHINOZUKA YOSHIO is a former member of Unit 731, the bacteriological warfare unit of the Japanese Imperial Army. He was interned in China as a war criminal. He and his fellow internees make up most of the handful of veterans who are willing to talk publicly about war atrocities committed in Asian countries under the Japanese occupation.
“Locals are, as in a Japanese proverb, silent and do not speak.”
YACHITA TSUNEO is a labour unionist in Hanaoka. He has spent 20 years reconstructing the story of Hanaoka Camp, where Chinese men were forcibly recruited as slave labourers.
“If facts of the war are clarified among the Japanese,
it will become clear that Japan was an aggressor. There is this concern.”
TANAKA KOH is a member of the House of Representatives from the opposition Democratic Party of Japan. He chairs a group of Parliament members who support a proposed bill to investigate the war.
“How Japan was made into such a country remains an issue to be solved.”
NISHIKAWA SHIGENORI is the Secretary General of the Association of War Bereaved Families for Peace. For him, Emperor Hirohito held the ultimate responsibility for the death of his brother and other young men sent to the war.
“What about the European countries and the U.S. who controlled Asia for 210 years?”
TSUCHIYA TAKAYUKI is a municipal politician in Tokyo and the author of Stop Biased Peace Memorial. He believes that Japanese colonization had been good for Asia and that Japan can take pride in that history.
“In the war, we became stupid humans.”
NUMATA SUZUKO is a retired schoolteacher and a survivor of the A-bomb. She reflects on how she was caught up in her country’s wartime militarism and post-war victimhood.
“We are in the position that we have to put this to conclusion to not just save those poor people… but to save ourselves.”
SHIMADA YOSHIKO, an artist, explores the wartime roles of the Emperor and of Japanese women through her work.
“People want to give meaning to deaths in war, the nation also wants to give meaning to them.”
TSUCHIYA YUTAKA, a filmmaker, talks about the country’s resurgent nationalism and young people’s attraction to simple and heroic war stories.
“People previously devoted themselves to greater things, which were Japan and Asia.”
MUROTATSU YASUHIRO and MAJIMA JUN’ICHI are university students and members of the Japanese Patriotic Organization. They and ARAKI MASAHIRO, the organization’s political leader, believe the war was a just war and the Tokyo War Crimes Trial was a victory over the defeated.
“People who went to war had loyalty.
This loyalty should be followed to create a stable nation.”
MORITA TADAAKI runs a private school teaching history, poetry, and martial arts. He also organizes the Great Mission ceremony at Yasukuni Shrine that commemorates Japan’s 1941 declaration of war against the United States and Great Britain.
“Neighbours didn’t want to see us in peaceful Japan. We reminded them of the war past.”
WATANABE YOSHIJI deals with the burden of being the son of a convicted class C war criminal, a soldier who abandoned his own people in Manchuria at the end of the war.
“I didn’t know about the Nanking Massacre even after I became a teacher.
I didn’t even think about what Japan did in China. I was the same as the kids today.”
MORI MASATAKA is a high school teacher. He has visited China fifty times in the last fifteen years to research and produce his own teaching materials on the war.