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Scars of World War II on both sides

by Yuki Ohashi, staff writer

In June 2001, two things happened: the regular medical examination of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb victims was held at Kuakini Hospital, and the movie Pearl Harbor premiered on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

About 90 local Japanese survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki underwent a health checkup.

Click on image for larger view

There are approximately 180 atomic bomb victims in the Hawaiian Islands. This is an invisible aspect of the war rapidly disappearing as victims age and die.

Pearl Harbor played to more than 2,000 VIPs and opened nationwide to mixed responses. The welcome of distinguished guests with red carpeting, the display of fireworks before the screening, and the party on the deck of the Stennis, made obvious the significance of Pearl Harbor to all Americans.

Pearl Harbor opened in Japan on July 14, and, apparently, the reviews of this film are on the whole favorable among Japanese people, because they recognize the movie as a love story, with the Pearl Harbor attack as a background. However, in America, especially among young people, some believe that the movie would have potential to be more productive if it had emphasized the facts of Japanís brutality and aggression, rather than seeming to whitewash it.

Inevitably, many Americans who saw the movie came away feeling, if only subconsciously, that the Japanese are cowardly people, because only cowards pull sneak attacks. On the other hand, many Japanese, especially those young Japanese who saw the movie, tend to not take the historical event of Pearl Harbor as seriously as Americans do, because it didnít happen to them.

The attack on Pearl Harbor really altered many civiliansí lives forever, including those innocent bystanders of war who were in the fields and on the roads, who saw the numerous Japanese planes overhead, who couldnít believe what was happening to them. It has been nearly 60 years since Japanese forces made a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, and 56 years since the atomic bombs destroyed both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And still those people, both Americans and Japanese, who lived through such a human tragedy, are suffering.

People, especially our generation, often forget the commitment that created the freedom we have now. If we reflect upon the war, the realities and scars of war, the mutual suffering, from both Americaís and Japanís viewpoint, we will understand each other in the true sense of the word. To gaze on both sides of this matter is the only thing we have to do now in order not to make the same mistake again.

 

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