Mil­i­tary pol­icy shift wor­ries Ja­panese

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By REUTERS in Tokyo

Tokuro Inokuma, a for­mer Im­pe­rial Ja­panese Army sol­dier, gained his first taste of the hor­rors of war in 1945 when he scram­bled to gather the scat­tered limbs of his fel­low ser­vice­men, blown apart by a US air raid in Ja­pan. He was 16. One of a dwin­dling num­ber of World War II vet­er­ans, Inokuma now finds trou­bling echoes in Tokyo’s pol­icy shift away from the paci­fist ideals ad­hered to af­ter 1945.

“I find it quite danger­ous. This is the path we once took,” said Inokuma, who fought in China soon af­ter the deadly airstrike and sur­vived two years in camps in the thenSoviet Union fol­low­ing Ja­pan’s sur­ren­der.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe took a ma­jor step by end­ing a ban last month that has kept the mil­i­tary from fight­ing abroad since 1945.

Inokuma, 85, said: “We have nei­ther killed nor been killed (in bat­tle) for al­most 70 years. That’s un­prece­dented. It’s im­por­tant we think hard about that.”

Crit­ics of Abe’s move warn

Army sol­dier

91-year-old vet­eran who lost his right leg to a US in­cen­di­ary bomb in 1945. that it could lead to a re­vival of mil­i­tarism and pose a threat to Ja­pan’s East Asian neigh­bors.

Teru Hisato, a 91-year-old vet­eran who lost his right leg to a US in­cen­di­ary bomb in 1945 when he was guard­ing mil­i­tary sup­plies at a rail­way sta­tion in north­ern Ja­pan, doubts that the pol­icy shift makes Ja­pan safer.

“If you raise your fist in re­sponse to your op­po­nent’s fist-lift­ing, that only leads to a fight,” he said.

Hisato also wants Abe to re­frain from vis­it­ing the Ya­sukuni Shrine, which hon­ors Class-A war crim­i­nals.

In De­cem­ber, Abe vis­ited the shrine, where Ja­panese lead­ers con­victed by an Al­lied tri­bunal are hon­ored along with war dead.

Ja­panese lead­ers’ vis­its to the shrine anger China and South Korea, where mem­o­ries of Ja­pan’s past mil­i­tarism run deep.

Hisato said, “I be­lieve he does not need to visit Ya­sukuni at the price of ties with China and South Korea, if he hopes for safety and peace of mind of the Ja­panese peo­ple.”

Ichi­matsu Shimura, 93, who fought the Al­lies and ex­pe­ri­enced mal­nu­tri­tion and blood­suck­ing leeches on a long re­treat through the jun­gles in Burma — now Myan­mar — agrees that Abe should not visit the shrine again.

“With the cur­rent diplomatic sit­u­a­tion, it would be bet­ter if he did not go. Go­ing there will only harm Ja­pan’s diplomacy,” Shimura said.

Abe is ex­pected to send an of­fer­ing to the shrine on Fri­day, the an­niver­sary of Ja­pan’s sur­ren­der, but not to visit it.


Tokuro Inokuma, a for­mer Ja­panese Im­pe­rial Amy sol­dier, with a pho­to­graph of him­self taken in 1944.

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