The Japanese people have become as fierce an ally and friend as they were an enemy. As a young Marine I studied the campaigns of the Pacific War, where American Marines and Japanese Imperial soldiers threw themselves at each other in some of the most savage battles in the history of armed conflict. I saw a couple of those islands, actually walked some of the places where the battles were fought.
During a training cycle I had occasion to spend some weeks in Japan. I traveled the countryside when I could. I met many ordinary Japanese people in their day-to-day lives. I talked to an English teacher… a fisherman… a tank commander in the Japanese home defense forces… farmers, students and businessmen. Without exception they were sincere, friendly people. I was invited into complete strangers’ homes and treated like an honored guest… It occurred to me that perhaps it was because I made a sincere effort to learn the language and customs, and I exhibited a lively curiosity which they were only too happy to satisfy.
We are watching a people who have just suffered one of the great tragedies of the modern era… the death toll is going to be horrendous. Far higher than the figures we’ve seen up to now. What has been remarkable has been the response of the Japanese people to an event which would have prostrated many other countries outright. Grieve?… Hurt? Yes, they grieve and they hurt, but they immediately begin the long path to recovery. There are no bleating cries for others to do for them what they can do themselves. read more »