Readers will also learn of the pride that went into such a war, in that, many Japanese believed it was better to die than ever surrender. Also, those that did not suffer as many losses as some other families often felt oddly cheated — that their loved ones had not died in honor. Not all believe this, of course, but certainly some came from families that subscribed to such extreme patriotism. It is also interesting to note that it was inconceivable for the Emperor to ever make a mistake, so whenever a battle had been taking place, and information had been reported incorrectly, members of the Thought Police did whatever they could to cover it up. No one would ever speak about any error reaching the public, even if aware of it.
Here’s one of the observations made by one of the interviewees, a poet named Suzuki Murio. He states: “The military is an amalgamation of human beings. Some you can get along with, others you can’t. There are a lot of backstabbers. Sincere men attract sincere men. Easygoing men seem to get together. Birds of a feather.”
Japan At War presents the interviewees as individuals, not mere talking heads pontificating about nationalism or Communism or whichever ism serves them. They’re not presented as stereotypes as one would see in a Spielberg or Eastwood film, but as real people each with a history to share in the way they remember or as they choose to. This is a great slice of history and a great read.