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As if nothing happened

On Friday, March 1, 2013, two U.S. Navy sailors convicted of raping
and injuring a woman in Okinawa in October 2012 were sentenced
to nine and 10 years in prison. The crimes resulted in strong
protests, especially in Okinawa, against the frequent crimes and
sexual assaults involving members of the U.S military forces in
Japan.

Even though the Americans in this case expressed remorse, it will
certainly not be easy for the victim, a Japanese woman in her 20s,
to easily erase that nightmare incident from her memory. Indeed,
as numerous so-called wartime "comfort women” (Imperial military
sex slaves) and rape victims of members of the U.S. forces have
testified painfully, the awful experiences they underwent
dominated the rest of their lives.

Here in Japan, unfavorable or shameful aspects of the nation's
history are routinely passed over as if nothing happened.
Incredibly, even the Great Est Japan Earthquake and tsunami of
March 11, 2011, and the subsequent, ongoing catastrophe at the
Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, are already fading from
citizens' minds. Instead, the idea that “We, Japanese, should
unite together” -- epitomized by widespread use word kizuna
(bond) is being promoted on the pretext of overcoming the tragedy.

“As if nothing happened …”; this attitude toward so much in Japan
has been repeated without reflection for so long as if to almost
become a national mantra.
Yet how any people recognize the existence of quite different
histories currently existing in the nation known as Japan?

For instance, the southernmost and the northernmost islands,
the Ryukyus (Okinawa) and Ezo (Hokkaido), were only integrated
into Japan proper following the post-feudal Meiji Restoration in
1868. Then, in the Tokyo government's pell-mell modernization drive
to compete with the Western imperialist Great Powers, Okinawa and
Hokkaido were effectively used as guinea-pigs for Japan's
colonization program soon to be launched in Korea, Taiwan, and then
China.

Strangely, both Okinawa and Hokkaido are now the most popular
tourist areas of Japan. But ironically, as visitors sing their praises, the
local people's agony remains -- though neither tourists nor Tokyo
appear in the least interested in the inconvenient histories behind
that agony.

Un peuple sans memoire est un peuple sans avenir.
(A people without memory is a people without future.)

It was Aimé Césaire, a poet and politician from the French-colonial
Caribbean island of Martinique, who enlisted that rallying call of the
great French military hero of World War I, Marshal Ferdinand Foch,
to instead denounce European colonialism..

As news from around the world reminds us daily that colonialism and
militarism are still rife, we hear similar voices, too, from Okinawa.
Listening to them, and remembering, will help to chart the future.
[PR]
by k_nikoniko | 2013-03-19 22:13 | 掲載記事(2011~)
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