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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise


August 15, 2017


VOX POPULI: Remembrances of wars past vital for today's generation




I felt nostalgic recently when I listened to the voice of actor Ken Takakura, who died three years ago aged 83.


"Looks like Japan has lost the war." "What? We've surrendered?"


He was recollecting a conversation with a friend on the day when Japan lost World War II and using their native Fukuoka dialect.


The exchange is contained in the book "Watashi no Hachigatsu Jugonichi" (My August 15), a collection of personal reminiscences regarding the war and published by Imajinsha.


Takakura re-enacted his own conversation in the audio version of the book.


The title's fifth volume came out earlier this month. About 150 cartoonists, writers, academics, politicians and other professionals have so far contributed their writings or drawings of their memories of Aug. 15, 1945, to the five-volume book. About half of the contributors have participated in the creation of the audio version by reading aloud their own recollections.


Cartoonist Takao Saito, the creator of the popular "Golgo 13" manga series, says in a deep voice, "War is the most foolish of all human activities."


I was a bit surprised to hear physician Shigeaki Hinohara, who died last month at 105, talking fast as he recounted his difficult days during and after the war. St. Luke's International Hospital where he worked was forcibly renamed "Daitoa Chuo Byoin" (Greater east Asia central hospital) during the war and was quickly requisitioned by the Allied forces upon Japan's defeat.


"The generation that lived through the war is really getting on in years, and I am rushing to collect the testimonies, in writing or in voice, of those who are still well enough," said Shigekatsu Inaba, 63, of Imajinsha.


The company's main business is editing and publishing children's books, so the employees are collecting the testimonies in their spare time.


The company has so far donated the print and audio versions as a set to schools and libraries upon request. The print version is sold commercially, but the audio version, which comes with special equipment, is not for sale.


Inaba explained that he does not believe it appropriate to make money from "voices" that have been entrusted gratis to the company.


Consequently, the firm ends up in the red with every volume.


This year again, the nation marks its defeat in World War II. The people who heard the radio broadcast of the emperor's announcement of surrender are diminishing in number every year, and a generation born after the war effectively runs our society now.


This makes me all the more acutely aware that those written and oral reminiscences of mankind's great folly--war--are shared assets of incalculable value.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 15

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