Reflection on the Japan Trip

Douglas Northam

Recently one of the ladies in Hazel's mah jong club hosted a brunch for their group and some family and friends, to give Hazel and I an audience to brag to about our trip to Japan.  After that meeting we talked about the trip from time to time and in so doing I found that my thinking on what happened to us Japanese pows and how it came about had changed because of what I had learned on the tour by listening to the stories of some Japanese both civilian and military.
                                                                                                   
Hazel and Douglas Norhtham

On the tour we found that the personality of all the Japanese we met and came in contact with was without fail pleasant, helpful and smiling. That brings up the question " Did this personality develop since WWII? "  Of course not.  That personality has been a Japanese hallmark for many many years. Then why were they different to us pows in WWII ?  We found that the high command of the Imperial Japanese army held the civilian employees and army personnel in charge of the pow camps to a standard of conduct counter to the Japanese personality, by threat of that same punishment to themselves as well as their entire families if they did not do so.

The people of the United States and the people of Japan have much in common despite our diverse cultures. We both are family oriented, we both have a high work ethic, we both like the game of baseball and we both have a similar folk hero.  We Americans the cowboy and the Japanese the samurai. Both fight for the weak and needy.

My today's thought is: An apology from the executives of the corporations who mistreated us while we were in their care no longer has any value for me. 20/30 years ago, even 5 years ago it would have been beneficial.  They have just waited too long.  ( I think it would be of great value to them even at this late date ): I would feel comfortable in offering my hand in forgiveness to the Japanese pow camp personnel who were coerced into performing cruelties on us pows. : I think that if a Japanese newspaper could be talked into sending reporter with the tour group next time the story might have a better chance of going to print.

The trip also expanded my horizons of interest.  I'm more interested in world news and current events and even more interested ( a little bit ) in learning more about my computer and what new stuff can be done with that little bit of learning. I learned that my computer has the capability to translate languages. If I'd known that I could have written my note to the Takami school principal in Japanese. Or to be more precise I would have written it in English and the computer would have translated. 

One more interest:  Nearly every day we compare the Reno weather with the Tokyo weather.

Now its time for my weekly beer.  It reads Miller on the can but I would bet that my computer would translate that to Asahi.