Commentary: Japan’s reflection on WWII
Former P-I editoral writer Joe Copeland helped launch PostGlobe before visiting Japan on a Fulbright grant. Just before returning to Seattle last week, he visited Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo and, in particular, its museum about the history of the Japanese military. He reflects on what it says about Japan coming to grips with its actions during WWII.
By Joe Copeland
This summer has provided wonderful chances to learn more about Hiroshima, Nagasaki and peace issues. There are literally too many people to thank to begin here.
It’s been a pleasure to share here a little of what I have experienced during the Fulbright-sponsored research trip. I’m not sure exactly what I will do with this site as I switch to compiling dozens of interviews and writing more extensively about what I learned. But I hope to keep it active for some of what I do with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki material.
Before my return to Seattle on Wednesday, my final full day in Japan started with visit to a Tokyo museum that, like most of my research this summer, focuses on the dangers of nuclear weapons. It’s dedicated to telling the unhappy story of the Lucky Dragon 5, a tuna fishing boat that was exposed to large amounts of nuclear fallout from a 1954 U.S. nuclear test in the Bikini Atoll. The crew of 23 was sickened and one member died. The results of the test, as the museum notes, also continue to haunt the Marshall Islands today.
Later in the day, I went to see the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo and, in particular, its museum about the history of the Japanese military. Yasukuni is the site where the souls of Japan’s war dead are memorialized. Visits by top political leaders regularly inflame anger in China, Korea and other parts of Asia about the lack of reflection on Japan’s aggressive and often brutal conduct in World War II.
Read Copeland’s reflections from Japan on the Fourth of July