My name is Natsu. I was raised in Japan, but born in Australia. I left Australia at the age of 7, and lived in Japan ever since, so probably I have lost most of my Aussiness (except love for vegimite A MUST for breakfast). In my short time in Australia, I did not face many occasions that made me think about the relation of my two home countries, but there was one when I was 5 years old, which has been a kind of a trigger in making me take the path on studying Peace Studies now.
The 25th of April is the ANZAC day in Australia, and at school, we have events in the memory of the fallen at war. Old soldiers would come to talk of their war experiences. I remember sitting in the assembly hall with all my other kindy mates, listening, intrigued by the horrific events that the old man talked about, and whispering excitedly about how evil this enemy was. It was almost like sitting watching a movie, until I heard him name the terrible, evil enemy, the Japanese. I remember looking up from my whispered conversation, and looking at the man. I was shocked, never knowing that there was a war between my two beloved countries, and more so with the hate pulsing out of the man as he spoke about the Japanese, Us. I realized, ignorant as I was, that the memories, suffering and the hurt of war will never fade from this man nor from others, and in that sense, war has never ended.
Living in Japan, I feel that the war is increasingly becoming mere dates and names on history Textbooks, something that is disconnected, something that has ended in 1945. That war, which the Japanese had started and lost, is not something we are proud of, a topic that raises tension between our neighboring countries and even within, a memory we do not know how to face. It is so much easier to look away, wishing for the memories to just disappear. But, that hate and hurt in the voice of that old soldier reminds me that the memories will never disappear.
I don’t believe that the Japanese must bow down forever. During these almost 70 years, Japan has apologized, and is seeking reconciliation (whether that has been enough or not is another problem). But, I believe that the attempts to face and embrace the memories of that war of within and that of the outside has not being enough. How? I still have no answer. I cannot even imagine what ‘facing’ or ‘embracing’ really means. I just feel this strong need for change.
I love Japan, it is my home. It is one of the safest countries. There would be bending machines with beer on the corner of a quiet street, and as far as the ones I know, they have always being standing there peacefully without being harmed. The people I know are loving and polite, hardworking and caring (sometimes too much perhaps). And because I love Japan, I imagine a country ‘facing’ and ‘embracing’ the memories of that war, not only for what had happened, but for the future too.