War Guilt Information Program (WGIP) and “History Warfare” Prologue
By Takahashi Shiro,
Prologue: A trip to visit overseas archives
Back to the place of origin
In December 2012, in the freezing cold weather, I drove from New York airport to Vassar College. I was overjoyed with the prospect of resuming my exploration of the archives in the United States after a 30 year hiatus. Vassar College, located on the Hudson River, seventy-five miles to the north of New York City, is a prestigious college with an impressive and beautiful campus.
After I checked in at a hotel, I directly went to the Vassar College library. My purpose was to study papers related to Ruth Benedict, the author of The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, which are stored in the basement of the Archives and Special Collections Library. After waiting for about two hours, I went through the registration procedure, to register as a researcher, and the librarian handed me two folders which I had requested.
The regulation says that one folder is to be handed to one researcher. Fortunately, my wife was with me and she also registered as a researcher, which enabled us to read twice as much materials as one person can. My wife is a graduate from a university deparptment of literature English program and wrote her graduation thesis in English. So, she was of great help to me.
In 1980, I went to the United States for the first time and stayed there for three years, with the aim of examining the Allied General Headquarters (GHQ) papers housed in the United States and, through these papers, reexamining Japan’s postwar educational history.
When the papers of the U.S. Army and Navy were published twenty-five to thirty years after the event, Japanese national newspapers simultaneously reported this news on their front pages. Stimulated by their coverage, I wanted to know what it was that Japan lost and gained through its postwar education by studying these papers that were now publicly disclosed and available at archives in the US.
These papers are preserved in the United States National Archives annex, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. As many as 10,283 boxes contain papers of General Headquarters. When I learned of the sheer volume of papers, I felt totally despondent, believing that I would never be able to finish reading all of the papers in my lifetime. I will never forget the shock on the first day of my visit to the annex of the United States National Archives.
However, I found out that the papers pertaining to the CIE (the Civil Information and Education Division), which was in charge of education and religion in Japan during the allied occupation, are contained in only 907 boxes, that is, about 2.4 million pages. I was hopeful that I would be able to study 2.4 million pages in my lifetime. There was another obstacle, however. The regulation stated that only one hundred copies per year from the archives are permitted.
The numerous files of GHQ papers were quite disorganized and out of order. The only identifying marking on them was the name of the responsible person. So, I read files at random and wrote down whatever I thought was important in my notes, which was dishearteningly laborious. Despite my efforts, I was not able to find what I wanted. In the end, my handwritten notes filled ten cardboard boxes. Later, went I back to Japan, I showed my voluminous notes to my students and they were totally flabbergasted, “Only Mr. Takahashi could have done this!”
During my last six months in Washington D.C., I was firmly determined to complete my work and miraculously succeeded in finding important papers, one after another. Until that time, I spent agonizing days amidst a sea of papers. As soon as I informed Mr. Eto Jun of the George W. Prange Collection (a collection of historical materials related to the Allied censorship of Japan) at the McKeldin Library, University of Maryland, Mr. Eto came to Washington D.C. in person. Almost immediately, Mr. Eto found censored historical materials related to The Last of Battleship Yamato. He made a moving academic speech, during which he stated, “I was led here by the great guardian spirits of Japan.” Mr. Eto was outstanding and wonderful, proudly giving a speech to an academic society in the United States. On the other hand, while I had informed Mr. Eto of a valuable historical source, I was totally disappointed with myself, having barely progressed with my own study, “What a huge gap there is between Mr. Eto and me!”
My discouragement was broken with words written on three posters I happened to see at the University:
1) “Dream what you dare to dream. Go where you want to go. Be what you want to be. LIVE!”
2) “You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”
3) “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”
What I wanted to discover most were papers related to the “Shinto Directive”, issued on December 15, 1945, which formed the kernel of the Allied occupation policy against Japan, which “would destroy the enemy’s philosophy itself,” as President Roosevelt stated. As these papers were hard to find, I temporarily returned to Japan. According to Mr. Ashizu Uzuhiko, a Shinto scholar, these papers could be in the possession of Claremont College, California, which supported William Woodard’s research, who was a member of the religion section of the CIE. But they were not there.
The papers were among the CIE papers kept at the Annex of the United States National Archives. When I finally discovered the papers, clearly dated December 15, 1945 on the top right, tears fell from my eyes. Nearly three years had passed since I came to the United States with a firm determination to find these exact papers. I went through hard and difficult times, without giving up, hoping for this day to come. I kept in my mind my father’s words of encouragement, who would often say, “Shiro, never mind. Things will surely turn better. Just keep on working.” It was truly a wondrous experience–after the miracle of that day, I discovered, one after another, a series of important historical records.
Thirty years after those memorable days, as I searched through American archives at Vassar College, New York, the events of the past came back to me just like a Japanese revolving lantern. After a lengthy detour of thirty years, I finally made it home. I felt as if my father told me, “Welcome home, Son!” I have good reason to feel that way.
When I told my father my decision to go to the United States to study history of Japan under the allied occupation, my father told me, with tears in his eyes, “I named you 史朗 (literally, “history clear”) out of my sincere wish that someday you will make history clear,”. I will never forget his words for the rest of my life. Reflecting upon how far I was able to realize my father’s wish, I could not stop shedding tears. I said to myself, from the bottom of my heart, “Now is the time to return to my initial resolution.”
I have both scholarly and activist spirits. As I mentioned earlier, stimulated by simultaneous reporting by major Japanese national newspapers, my scholarly spirit compelled me to go to the United States at the age of 30. After returning to Japan, I became the youngest member of an expert committee of the Government’s Ad Hoc Education Council and participated, over a period of almost three years, in discussing educational reform for three hours a week. Thus, my activist spirit was ignited. (At that time, I was 34 years old and there were no members, besides myself, in their thirties or forties, and the mass media praised me as a young and energetic scholar on education, which made me ecstatic. Seeing me in that situation, my father sent me a postcard with the maxim, “The boughs that bear most hang lowest.”
After that, I worked as a lecturer and entrance examination examiner (examiner of applicants’ intentions) for Matsushita Seikei Juku (school of politics and economics); researcher on international schools for the Ministry of Education; chairman of a committee for research and study on sound growth and development for youths for the Ministry of Home Affairs; member of a subcommittee of the Government strategic committee to cope with declining birthrates; Saitama Prefecture Education Superintendent; Vice-Chairman of the Society for History Textbook Reform; Head of the Yasukuni Kassei Juku School; Director of the Teachers’ School/Association to promote parents’ study; member of the Cabinet Office Gender Equality Committee (for three terms, six years); Tokyo Metropolis Gender Equality Council (for three terms, six years); chairman of Saitama Prefecture Council on sound growth and development for youths (for two terms, four years); chairman of the Kanagawa Prefecture expert committee to cope with mal-adjustment to school; vice-Chairman of Arakawa Ward informal meeting to promote gender equal society; member of Sendai City Gender Equal Society Promotion Council, and so on.
For the past thirty years, while I devoted my time to participating in various activities, I neglected my study of the history of postwar education. On my sixty-second birthday, November 20, 2012, I made up my mind to return to the “beginning.”
During a public symposium held on November 10, 2012 by the Yasukuni Shrine Reverence and Praise Society at Tosho Hall near Tokyo Station, I spoke with Mr. Nakanishi Terumasa, professor emeritus of Kyoto University, which led me to become interested in Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.
At about the same time, confidential papers which had not yet been published thirty years ago were newly made public. Likewise, Mr. Kishimoto Hideo’s diary, which I could not find at all, even asking Mr. Ashizu Uzuhiko and Mr. Kishimoto Hideo’s son, was discovered at Oregon University, as well as Woodard’s papers. These discoveries ignited my scholarly spirit. Mr. Kishimoto Hideo was assistant professor at the University of Tokyo at the time when the War was over and served as an advisor to the CIE religion section.
I decided to resign from all my official positions, restrain my lecturing activities to the minimum required and devote myself to studying and writing. I wrote my resolutions on New Year’s greetings cards and sent them to my friends and acquaintances. Mr. Nishio Kanji, who was the main person who established the Society for History Textbook Reform, along with Mr. Fujioka Nobukatsu and myself, wrote back:
I am very happy to know that you decided to set on your life work. Decades ago, I wished that you would write a great book on this theme. Now, my wish seems to be coming true. I am so glad that you are determined. That’s the way it should be. You have “acted” fully and now is the time to compile the “thinking.” I’m looking forward to seeing your life work completed.
I said to myself that my father would have thought the same way.
Pledge to study from diversified perspectives
On February 25, 2013, my wife and I left Narita at 3 p.m. for JFK International Airport in New York. The time difference was fourteen hours. It was a twelve hour flight. Four and a half hours after arrival at JFK, we flew directly from New York to London Heathrow Airport. The time difference between New York and London was five hours. After a seven hour flight, we arrived at Heathrow at six-thirty in the morning. We ate two in-flight meals on each of the flights. With the long flights, nineteen hours in total, and the time differences, I didn’t know whether it was breakfast or lunch that I ate on the flights.
From Heathrow, we took a nearly three hour ride to the south by coach (long-distance bus). We arrived at Brighton, Sussex, facing the beautiful sea, where the Royal Pavilion stands, which was built as imperial villa for George IV at the end of the eighteenth century. Looking at the shining blue sea, we walked for forty minutes, dragging heavy luggage along the seashore street lined with numerous hotels. Judging from the map that it would be just ten minutes’ walk, we didn’t take a taxi. We were totally exhausted when we finally arrived at the hotel after the long journey.
However, as the time allowed for the research of Geffrey Gorer’s papers held at the University of Sussex Library special collection was short, we took a taxi to the University, as it was already five in the afternoon, wasting no time and going without lunch, after checking in at the hotel. I complained a little to my wife, “Oh, boy! We will barely manage such a reckless schedule!” The University of Sussex is prestigious and famous for its beautiful campus and interdisciplinary education, having produced three Nobel Prize recipients, a president, a vice president, a rural minister and a minister of health.
I had emailed them beforehand in Japan about historical records I wanted to search and the library clerk in charge of the Special Collection was waiting for us with the box of historical papers I had requested. After finishing entrance procedures at the reception, the library clerk guided us to the reading room on the second floor and instructed us regarding the regulations. Photography was allowed, but no flash-photography. Scanned images, up to fifty images per day, were allowed to be stored in USB memory, but no photocopying was allowed.
First, we browsed through all of Gorer’s papers Online in the reading room and looked through the catalogue of 1993. We were just overwhelmed at the volume of papers. The shock revived in my mind, which I had felt when I saw, for the first time, 10,283 boxes containing GHQ papers at the United States National Archives Annex, thirty years ago, during my first stay in the United States.
Back to the task at hand. We discussed how to work on the papers. One box of papers was given to one person at a time. I decided which papers I would study closely, while my wife handwrote the titles of papers I had picked up, one after another. It was a team effort indeed!
Through research at the University of Sussex, I was able to find historical records pertaining to hearings (a surprise name was included among them), which were basis of Gorer’s papers, which, in turn, became basis of Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, reference literature and correspondence exchanged between those concerned. Our efforts turned out to be quite fruitful.
At noon on March 4, we flew from Heathrow, London to JFK, New York a six hour flight. Then, four hours later, riding the airport shuttle, subway and train, we were at Vassar College. My shoulders were in miserable conditions after the long journey, carrying heavy luggage. Incidentally, in New York, on the same day, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women convened with its meeting on “the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.”
Photography was permitted of Benedict’s Vassar College papers. Copying was also permitted. While I checked the papers in order to decide which to copy, my wife wrote down the folder numbers, the names of documents and dates on the application form. We also took photos of what we judged were necessary. We mainly searched papers related to correspondence between Benedict and Gorer before she wrote The Chrysanthemum and the Sword as well as Benedict’s activities connected with the Allied occupation policies against Japan.
On March 5, His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan arrived in New York and pleasantly spoke with UN executives and UN Ambassadors from various countries at a reception held at United Nations Headquarters. On the following day, March 6, His Imperial Highness gave a wonderful keynote address at the Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters. I was very much moved by His Highness’s excellent address. I remember the precious occasions: when a national inter-high school athletic meet was held at Saitama Prefecture, I was honored to be invited as Superintendent of Education of Saitama Prefecture to a lunch attended by His Imperial Highness (around ten persons in total were present) and years later, when I was invited to Imperial Tea, His Imperial Highness remembered me and spoke to me, to my great honor.
On March 8, I attended the “International Women’s Day” session held at UN Headquarters. Delegates from all over the world and NGO representatives assembled. As I am a member of the Japanese Government’s Gender Equality Committee, I also attended the session to check-up on discussion.
At 6:53AM, March 10, we flew from New York to Eugene, Oregon, via Salt Lake City. Immediately before departure from New York, I remembered, barely in time, that daylight savings time was to begin on March 10, wherein clocks were to be set an hour ahead. On that day, waking up at four in the morning, I happened to read an article mentioning daylight savings in The New York Times from the day before. I thanked my ancestors for such luck. The flight to Eugene was nine and a half hours.
My parents and I in 1981 in front Hoover Institute, Stanford University.
After checking in at a hotel, we went to see the University of Oregon campus. We found many students wearing short-sleeved T shirts early in March. We were in heavy coats, having come from freezing cold New York, where it snowed the day before our departure. The sight reminded me of the shock I had felt, thirty years ago, when I drove myself, starting from snow-covered Washington, D.C. across the American Continent, for nearly eight hours a day, for a week, finally arriving at Stanford University, which is about thirty-seven miles to the southeast of San Francisco. At Stanford, beautiful flowers were in full bloom here and there and I enjoyed seeing cherry blossoms, harbingers of spring, blossoming well ahead of those in Japan.
On March 11, on the second anniversary the Great East Japan Earthquake, I first prayed for the victims. Then I began study of Woodard’s papers at the University of Oregon’s Knight Library. I was thrilled to find the diary of Kishimoto Hideo, which I had been searching for without success, together with the vivid “Shinto Directive,” a draft of the “Imperial Declaration of Humanity” and related papers. I read them through at a breath. These are extremely valuable historical documents, concisely depicting the highly charged negotiation process between Japan and the GHQ with regard to the Shinto Directive (including the issue of Yasukuni Shrine), the Imperial Declaration of Humanity, Imperial Rescript on Education and suspension of the use of school textbooks on morals and history.
Back in my thirties, I had found the draft of the Shinto Directive after searching for two and a half years. Now that I found more detailed historical sources, I could not help but feel that I was led here to the Knight Library to fulfill a preordained mission. The Shinto Directive was the center of the Allied occupation policy, of the “mental disarmament of Japan,” together with the abolishment of the Imperial Rescript on Education and suspension of the use of school textbooks on morals and history. To clearly demonstrate the impropriety of the Shinto Directive must have been a historical mission given to me when my father named me 史朗, wishing me to “clarify history,” as my Japanese name indicates. And to fulfill my mission, I was once again led to the study of papers related to the Allied occupation.
On March 14, I returned to New York again and I saw the film Emperor, which was mentioned in The New York Times, with stills, the previous day. The film ended with a dramatic scene closely showing what was discussed between General Douglas MacArthur, played by Tommy Lee Jones, and the Emperor Showa, played by a Japanese actor, during their first meeting.
On March 17, we took an Amtrak train from New York to Philadelphia, an hour and a half ride. After dropping in at the University of Pennsylvania, we took a taxi and in half an hour arrived at a hotel near Swarthmore College. After checking in at the hotel, we started walking toward Swarthmore College, just to have a look beforehand. While walking, we asked a woman the way, who admonished us for walking to the college. She was kind, yet highly passionate, dissuading us to walk all the way to the college. We gave up and went back to the hotel. My wife wrote a little poem, praising the kind woman:
How kind of you, worrying for us foreigners, saying that it was too far to walk
When I said, “Don’t worry,” you said instantly, “Oh, I do worry for you.”
You were so upset and worried about us intent on walking further
We were happy and touched by the warmth of your heart
Your warm heart moved us almost in tears
Indeed, there were such heart-warming occasions of unexpected encounters now and then during our busy and hard academic trips. An encounter with a Japanese hotel housekeeper who took care of us was one of them. My wife wrote another poem, the second one on the eventful day.
In the eastern part of America, far away from Japan
Seeing you work so busily and chatting with us for a brief time
Something sweet touched out hearts
I wish you will stay fine and charming for years to come
Just several minutes’ conversation brought happy tears to her and our eyes. Something must have touched our hearts. Encountering people who live their own lives as best they can encouraged us so much that we cannot help but wish them luck, “May you have the best in life!”
On the next day, we started our study of Helen Mears’ papers at Swarthmore College’s McCabe Library.
From March 19, we studied papers dated 1944 related to the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR) at Columbia University’s Butler Library and visited the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture (established in 1986), also at Columbia University.
On March 22, we returned to Japan after a nearly a month of research and study in the United States and the U.K. We had 3,000 pages of photocopied historical records, 800 photographed pages and over 200 pages of handwritten notes. It will take an enormous amount of time to read all these materials, put them in order and write academic papers based on these materials and publish them as a book. I determined to devote my time and energy to this great task, without wasting a single minute.
What I felt after the one-month overseas research was that the theme of my study expanded away from the sphere of The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. Through pursuing the source of Gorer’s papers, which became the basis of The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, it became clear that we must totally examine the relationship between the theme of my study of thirty years ago, the Allied policy of dealing with the Emperor system, including the abolishment of Shinto and the Imperial Rescript on Education on one hand, and the various Allied policies aiming to “destroy the enemy’s philosophy”, or “mental disarmament”, on the other.
In this way, it may be possible to review the dark and light of Allied occupation policies from a more mature point of view. Thirty years ago, my study emphasized only the darkness of Allied occupation policy and I was entirely committed to pursuing how far the United States was responsible. Now that I can look at things with a wider and diversified perspective and set myself free from a narrow and one-sided view, I would like to review both the light and darkness of Allied education policy toward Japan under occupation, with The Chrysanthemum and the Sword as an axis, in a diversified and comprehensive manner.
I wonder of life’s mysterious force, which led me to focus my study on Allied occupation policies once again. I shudder at the enormous volume of historical documentation that I have collected. I have restarted my study. I now stand at the crucial point of my life, with my academic ability to be judged in the future. I hope to continue my research in an objective and empirical manner, as much as I possibly can.
Confidential papers related to Elizabeth Vining
Thus, I resumed my study of overseas archives. Since 2012, I drove across the U.S., covering more than ten thousand kilometers, or sixty-two thousand miles, a year and visited universities, colleges and libraries and laboriously studied historical papers kept by these institutions. I also did some research regarding the current issue of “historical views” over Japan.
On March 2014, during my stay in the United States, the Japanese Government would reexamine the Kono Statement regarding the “military comfort women.” I looked through historical sources regarding “military comfort women” at the United States National Archives in Washington, D.C. I also visited stone monuments of comfort women in Los Angeles and New York. I investigated, in depth, the true circumstances of Japanese children being bullying in states next to California.
At the United States National Archives, I also investigated Beate Sirota Gordon who drafted Article 24 of the Japanese Constitution. In near the future, Ms. Gordon’s papers are slated to be published at Mills College, her alma mater (Mills College’s F. W. Olin Library Special Collections & Archives, General Manuscript Collection, Global Fund for Women Collection).
The Prange Collection at the McKeldin Library, the University of Maryland, where I used to study as a student, contains the Marlene J. Mayo Oral Histories. Marlene Mayo is associate professor emeritus at the University of Maryland. I found out that among the oral histories were interviews with Beate Gordon and Helen Mears.
On March 9, leaving Washington, D.C., we drove through Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and arrived at Swarthmore College. We were fascinated by the beautiful campus. At Swarthmore, I scanned all of Helen Mears papers and sent the data to my computer, which crashed due to the heavy volume of data. So, I gave up scanning the papers and photocopied two-thirds of them, while my wife photographed the remaining third.
With respect to borrowing historical documents at academic institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom, in principle, usually one box of papers is handed out to one researcher at a time. So, it was wonderful for us to work with two boxes of papers at the same time together. Team work really counted. People often tell me, “I am envious of you that you and your wife stay at a hotel overseas for a long time together.” Well, in reality, it is was not that sweet. During our days abroad, we were too busy copying and photographing page after page, all day long, without even a coffee break. And at the end of each day, after we finished, we went back to the hotel and we literally collapsed onto beds, too tired to do anything else. I had never experienced such a hardship in my entire academic life. The work required considerable amount of energy, both physically and mentally. I am lucky and grateful for the fact that I am still fit, both physically and mentally, for a man in his sixties. I am eager to do my best, in whatever way that I can for my research, with the help of my wife, who works as hard as I do.
On March 12, I went to Haverford College at Haverford, Pennsylvania. At Magill Library’s Quaker and Special Collections, I examined Elizabeth Vining’s papers. Vining taught English, as a tutor, to Emperor Akihito as a child. There were thirty-nine Vining boxes, twelve of which were designated confidential and restricted. No photographing nor copying was permitted. Even taking notes was prohibited. If I had a better memory, it would have been a lot of help. Anyway, we read all the pages without missing a line. As reproducing restricted materials was not allowed, I am sorry that I cannot tell readers anything about them. Since they are confidential, imperial matters, we are to respect their wishes.
In an era of worldwide information flow, some may wonder whether it is necessary to drive and visit, in person, universities in the United States. I would say that it is impossible to peruse these confidential papers unless you visit the library in person. Those who want to know what papers are stored there, please refer to “Finding Aid for the ELIZABETH GRAY VINING PAPERS, 1897-1989,” Special Collections, Haverford College Library.
The most interesting are the records of the first meeting between the Emperor Showa and General Douglas McArthur. Mrs. Vining wrote down in her diary what she heard from Douglas McArthur about his first meeting with the Emperor during her interview with McArthur.
At a symposium of Japan under Allied occupation held at Douglas McArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1980, with Mrs. Vining (third from the left in the back row) and the author (the farthest right).
Part of Mrs. Vining’s diary is quoted in the book Emperor and I, written by Elizabeth Gray Vining (published by Yamamoto Shoten):
I tried to pressure a little harder and asked the Emperor whether he was willing to take the responsibility of the War. The Emperor said, “Before I answer Your Honor’s question, let me say a few words. I don’t mind how Your Honor treat me. I will accept whatever your decision is. I don’t mind if I am to be hanged. I never wanted a war, not once. For one thing, I did not think that Japan would win. More than that, I did not like those who advocated expansion of armaments and I did not trust them, either. I believe that I did whatever I could do in my power to prevent the war.”
Moreover, Vining’s Papers include letters written by Empress Kojun, Empress Michiko, and Emperor Akihito; the verbatim record of conversations between the Emperor and Douglas MacArthur; and a record of preparations for the Imperial meeting made by Koizumi Shinzo and others concerned.
When we arrived at Haverford College, my wife wrote a poem:
What did I see at Haverford College in the rain?
I saw you work, solely absorbed in your mission
You move by instinct from within, pure and straight
Just intent on working, free from everything else
When I saw you taking out papers from the car about to work
I remember how elaborately you prepared for the visit here to the College
You came all the way on your own
I felt like crying, thinking how helpless I have been
Looking at your back, I felt father in you
On March 14, we drove to New York and attended two events related to the annual session of the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women held at UN Headquarters, just as we had done the year before.
On March 16, we flew to Los Angeles. I saw my old friend from university days, forty years ago. Though his face barely looked the same as before, my overall impression was that he now looked like a nice old man. I was totally overwhelmed at the passing of forty years. I was speechless after I heard his life story—how he recovered from being penniless. An old friend of mine lived an extraordinary life, far away from Japan. Now, he is a successful real estate dealer. An American dream come true!
[Photo]: At a symposium of Japan under Allied occupation held at Douglas McArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1980, with Mrs. Vining (third from the left in the back row) and the author (the farthest right).
In August 2015, which marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the War, we drove a rental, covering nearly two thousand kilometers, or twelve hundred miles, through Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, to Cornell University at Ithaca, New York. Then, we crossed Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge and went back to Toronto, where I gave a lecture at the launch of the “Himawari Club in Toronto.” Afterwards, we studied at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
I discussed with Japanese residents in various places and learned that bullying and harassment against Japanese residents were spreading across Canada. In a survey, a Japanese high school student studying on his own in Canada told me about the bullying situation. When I conducted a similar survey in the United States, Japanese high school students I interviewed lived with their parents, without exception. But, in Canada, not a few Japanese high school students studied in Canada, far from their parents in Japan. With anxiety, they stated, “I am worried because I have no one to ask for help when I get bullied. I wonder who will help me in case of an emergency.” I said to them, “Don’t worry. You can email me anytime for help.” We should never forget the fact that there are many Japanese high school students studying abroad, feeling anxious and helpless on their own.
At the University of British Columbia and the Library and Archives of Canada, we studied documents, including his will, related to Canadian diplomat Egerton Herbert Norman, who had tremendous influence on GHQ occupation policy. At Cornell University, we researched Harold J. Timperley, who disseminated “the Great Nanjing Massacre” to the world and greatly influenced the Tokyo Trials. At UCLA, we studied Bradford Smith who planned and implemented the War Guilt Information Program (WGIP).
We had many memorable encounters along the trip this time. First, after we arrived at Vancouver, we went straight to the University of British Columbia. On the way to the University, we got on a bus and knew that only coins were accepted. We were in trouble since we had only bill with us. A kindly passenger called out, “Does anyone have coins?” An old woman of about eighty stood up, took out two senior passes worth CAD1.75 each and told the driver, “Here, for the two of them.” A not-very sociable driver accepted her passes and we got on board the bus without trouble.
When my wife tried to pay her back, she declined, “No, you don’t have to.” Anyway, my wife handed her bills, saying, “This is token of gratitude for your kindness.” She accepted the bill and returned with change. My wife then gave her a new cell-phone strap made of inden (buff), “in remembrance of your love toward us Japanese.” After we got off the bus, she saw us off, throwing a kiss. She was a nice and charming Canadian lady.
Ninety-seven years old Mr. Asai Kikuji, whom we met in Los Angeles, was a man of soft and quiet posture and impressed us deeply with his hidden strength and his own way of life. His wife had passed away more than thirty years ago, but he did not have a hint of loneliness or senility.
He is an “eternal young man.” He established and represents the Los Angeles Branch of the “Mokukei (wooden chicken) Club,” a club comprised of readers of the Japanese monthly magazine Chichi. When I visited the United States in August 2015, I was invited to give a lecture on the second anniversary of the establishment of the Los Angeles Branch. Since then, every time I visit Los Angeles, I make it a rule to see him.
The first thing, every morning, Mr. Asai says to himself, “Good morning, young Asai!” with a smile and starts his day. Years ago, during a lecture held by the Yasukuni Shrine Reverence and Praise Society, I asked former tea ceremony patriarch, Sen Genshitsu of the Ura Senke family, what was the secret for staying young, he answered, “Every morning I greet to myself smiling in the mirror, ‘Good morning!’” Mr. Asai reminded me of this episode.
Twenty years from now, time will come when people in their fifties and sixties constitute majority of the population. Such a solitary and aged life will be lived not “with sheer loneliness” but “with heart-felt gratitude” by men like Mr. Asai. Mr. Asai also reminded me of writer Kusayanagi Daizo, who once described poet Iida Dakatsu’s state of mind in his later years when he wrote a poem, “Dare Kare mo arazu Itten Zison no Aki,” (No matter who it is, the whole autumn sky makes one feel proud of oneself), as “reason for dying.” My wife wrote poems about the most enchanted encounter with Mr. Asai:
The essence of “Arigato (thank you)”
In the morning, standing in the kitchen, I remember the man’s words
Waking up in the morning, I say “Thank you!” to myself in the mirror
“Thank you” for being alive
“Thank you” for making myself coffee
A person who greets every morning with such warm thought:
Past halfway his nineties
Straightening up his back
Always smiling tender and warm smiles
I am so happy to meet him
His “thank you” is the essence of “thank you”
Following him, I will stand at the essence of “thank you”
Even seventy years after the end of the War, conflicts grow worse between Japan and China and Korea over issues like the “comfort women.” Various encounters on our journey abroad transcend such racial confrontation. Allow me to introduce one more poem written by my wife to conclude the Prologue:
You came from Korea to study in America
You study while working part-time
I wish with all my heart
May your studying here in America help make the rest of your life truly worth living!
You said to me, “Japanese?”
And you said, “I’m Chinese”
At a restaurant, you were not serving our table, but whenever you had time
You came over to our table and talked to us, over and over
When we were leaving, I looked around for you and we hugged each other with much love!
Korean, Chinese and Japanese
We just met briefly here in America
A warm, big circle was drawn on the canvass of my heart.
*Notes: ＜List of Papers I studied＞