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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 February 24 - March 1  > Japan should never revert to the militarist past
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2016 February 24 - March 1 [PEACE]

Japan should never revert to the militarist past

February 24, 2016
Akahata 'current' column

Tokyo is now hastening the pace of preparation for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. As a matter of fact, the city was selected to host the 12th Games in 1940 before the outbreak of the Pacific War.

Japan wanted to take advantage of the 1940 sports festival as a massive national event to commemorate the 2,600th anniversary of the Imperial Era. However, Japan gave up on hosting the event. The decision was a natural consequence due to the fact that the country at that time was waging its war of aggression in contradiction to the peaceful ideas behind the Olympics.

Athletes who kept training for the Olympics were adversely affected by this decision. Louis Zamperini was among such athletes. He dreamt of going to Tokyo as a U.S. runner but was carted off to Japan as a prisoner of war. He died in 2014 at the age of 97.

Zamperini, who came under the spotlight in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was mobilized for the war as a bombardier. During a mission, his plane crashed in the Pacific. After drifting for 47 days, Zamperini was taken to Japan where horrible forms of torture in a prison camp awaited him. He survived the fear of death.

The movie “Unbroken”, now being shown in Japan, is about the life of Zamperini. Film director and actress Angelina Jolie in an interview said she wants people to see human dignity maintained even in extreme situations. The film’s release in Japan was delayed because Japanese conservatives denounced it as “anti-Japanese”.

It is a historical fact shown in various materials that the Japanese Army abused and killed many POWs. Rightists attacking this fact were very intolerant. They attempted to interfere with the screening and showing of Unbroken in Japan. The ominous ambience coincides with the present Japanese government wanting to suppress the people’s right to freedom of expression and right to access to information. The film depicts the path of forgiveness rather than of revenge Zamperini chose in the end. For Japanese people, the film shows us that we should never revert to the militarist past.
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