Yesterday, I had tea time with Taka and Nakayama-san. It’s been interesting here in Japan during August because the anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were earlier this month. Also the Olympics are going on and that has excited the natural rivalry between nations. I went to Quixote and they were watching the high bar Olympics. Tanabe-san (Too-Tired-Teacher-Who-Used-To-Be-In-Yakuza (but now we found out he really wasn’t in it)…) said almost immediately as I sat down that America was getting bronze, Japan was taking silver, and China was taking the gold. Right there, in that little triangle of awards was a whole century of conflict…it was insane.
I sat with Taka and Nakayama-san in surreality (is this a word? who cares!) discussing the reaction of Japan to losing WWII. The country was in a panic, and Taka was talking about how this group of kamikaze soldiers received word that American ships were coming to invade Tokyo. So they gathered these boats that were intended to just be steered into the ships…there were a hundred or so of them…and young men were manning the boats. They were lined up, and filled with explosives to take out the ships. But one caught on fire and as they rushed to put the fire out, four of the men realized it wasn’t completely extinguished and told the captain. The captain disregarded it and called all the kamikaze soldiers together, but the four soldiers ran away, thinking there would be a terrible explosion if that boat continued to burn. Sure enough, the fire built up again and in a chain reaction exploded all the other boats, killing all the men present…except those four. Later, they did some research in Washington DC to see if there had really been ships on their way to Tokyo…but there weren’t. The whole mission was a fool’s errand.
After that we talked about how Kokura (a shopping district maybe 20 minutes by train from here) was one of the initial targets for the bombs, but it was too cloudy, so they redirected it to either Hiroshima or Nagasaki (I think it was Nagasaki). Crazy! But there were heavy air raids done both here in Shimonoseki and in Tokyo. There were so many in Tokyo that I read there were more deaths there than in both atomic bombs dropping. Nakayama-san was 7 years old, and she was living in Tokyo at the time. She was on the western side of the city, and most of the bombings happened on the eastern side. She remembers the sky being a deep red from all the fire and explosions. She thought it was beautiful, but her mother chastised her, saying, “Those are homes and people burning.” Another woman at our church was in Shimonoseki at the time of the air raids. She was close to one of the bombs dropping and she was thrown into the water…some people pulled her out, but she could have died. Now, she and her husband and their daughters are believers…but had she died, none of that would be true.
It’s amazing. And did you know that America had imprisonment camps for Japanese-Americans living in the States at this time? Yeah…nothing like the German concentration camps, but still…people’s lives uprooted and isolated. Taka said that his wife, (who is 3/4th Japanese) Aki’s grandparents were actually held at one of those camps. Her mother was born on December 7th, 1941…Attack on Pearl Harbor Day.
Conversely, you have the terrible occurance of “comfort women”…women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military to service the soldiers. They took these women from any place they occupied: Korea, China, Philippines, Malaysia, Burma, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau, New Guinea. My friend Mark even mentioned that some Australian women were enslaved, and some Dutch women from prison camps were then forced to work at “comfort stations.”
In a nutshell…nobody wins in war. Nobody.
(Makes you really think about Russia and Georgia, and all the other “wars” going on right now.)
I will say, though, that despite the terrible condition of the world and the awfulness of war and the instability of our world…it all points to one thing: Jesus is coming soon. And that gives me hope beyond all measure, because only He can establish true and lasting peace. Take hope in that.