Will There Ever Be True Peace?
By “Awake!” correspondent in Japan
MICHIKO was just a young widow when startling news came over the radio. It was the voice of the emperor saying that the fighting was over; Japan had unconditionally surrendered.
Her initial shock quickly turned to anger. “But why?” she asked herself. “Why quit now? Why not fight to the bitter end, until everyone including myself is dead?”
Her bitter thoughts were understandable. Her husband had been killed in the war. He had been taken into the army when she was still in the hospital with their one-week-old baby boy. The picture hanging on the wall was all her son, Yasuo, would ever see of his father. Vividly, she remembered, too, the night the American B-29 bombers raided Tokyo, destroying their home and all their possessions.
“The Japanese had been asked to give everything for the war,” Michiko recalled, “and now they say it’s all over, lost. Where is ‘Kamikaze’?* What happened to the Japanese armies that had never lost a war up to this time? Where is their proud tradition of ‘No surrender’?” These and similar thoughts raced through her mind.
But now 36 years have flown by. Japan has enjoyed relative peace and prosperity. Michiko is able to look back on the war years with a philosophical attitude and with greater understanding of what went wrong. She can see how war has wasted lives, slowed progress and ruined the earth. Following the war it was reported that 668,000 civilians alone had died in the aerial bombardments. Most of the major cities were in ruins. The Japanese had been encouraged to fight for their country and their emperor, but the issues were vague in their minds. She sees how politicians were able to use religion to get the people to support the war with blind faith and stubborn determination. She talks of what a fearful thing nationalism is when impressed on the minds of schoolchildren at an early age.
Even now there are terrible wars in the world, and such fearsome weapons! Many of these are affecting Japan and her economy too. Much pressure is on Japan to increase her “defense spending.” Will the article in the new constitution renouncing war be scrapped? Will we have war again, perhaps a nuclear war? Many people feel that this is a real possibility, since the nations have stockpiled tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Why can’t we have real peace, worldwide? Michiko asks: “Is man incapable of peace?”
“Kamikaze,” literally, “divine wind,” refers to the time the Mongolians attempted to invade Japan in 1281 and were turned back. The fleet was greatly diminished by a raging typhoon, thus strengthening the Japanese belief in divine protection of their country.
[Picture on page 3]
Epicenter of atomic blast, Hiroshima, Japan