70 Years After World War II, Japanese Elites Are Still Haunted by Despair and Shame
In the spring of 1976, while visiting the Tokyo Zoo, I was confronted with the unforgettable sight of an aging former Japanese soldier, wearing a ragged army uniform and cap, and bowing before all who entered.
One of his legs had been amputated. A begging bowl before him, he bowed as low as he could to Japanese families coming to see the newly arrived pandas. A few placed coins in his bowl quickly and moved on. It was a shockingly sad sight, with an aura of shame, silence, and neglect surrounding him.
I reacted strongly in part because I had recently visited China. There I was struck by the self-confidence exhibited by the men and women of the military, whether walking down the street or in military formation. The people, in turn, spoke with respect and pride of the older generation who had fought in what they called “our” People’s ...