Voices From Both Sides of the Pacific


Views of the Japan-America relationship, past and present:

“When I was a high school student, I saw a (Japanese public television) program and learned about (Pearl Harbor) in detail. When I learned the detailed background, I felt Japan was easily tricked by America. . . .

“I think Japan changed a lot (after the war). I can’t say it has changed in every respect, but there are things that are completely different. If I have to sum it up in one word, Japan became peaceful. . . .

“America still thinks that it can lead the world, but it is wrong. We now have to see things globally rather than nationalistically--not from the standpoint of our own country but from the standpoint of the world as a whole. But Americans think they can do things by themselves.”


--Masamitsu Nakagawa, 22, a college student in Japan

‘History Gallops Away’

“Recently, I was reading that some Japanese think they were tricked into Pearl Harbor so that we could wipe them out. I was so shocked when I read that. I just couldn’t believe that they would rationalize and justify it like that. . . .

“It must be very difficult for them to take responsibility for (the attack), and I find that very appalling. It’s like the old saw, if you don’t learn something from it, you are bound to repeat it. But for god’s sake, you can’t do that with the weapons we’ve got. . . .


“I think the hostility has gone into another theater now--it’s economic. There’s a lack of understanding. They’re very protectionistic. We’d like to be, but I don’t think we can afford to be. . . .

“I don’t think most Americans give Pearl Harbor any thought. History gallops away pretty fast. And with the speed of communication today, it’s forgotten even faster.”

--Lynn Miles, 54, an art teacher in Denver

‘America’s Next State’


“There are lots of killings and kidnapings (in the United States), and sometimes the same person kills many people. So I lost a desire to go to America. I would like to see America’s farms . . . but I don’t want to go to places like New York. . . .

"(In Japan) crime is low and public safety is good. Sometimes Americans say the Japanese live in rabbit hutches. That makes me really angry. We can’t do anything (about our housing) because our living situation is completely different. . . .

“I saw something saying that Japan will become America’s next state, and our national language will become English. I think the possibility of that happening is pretty high. Japan will do whatever America says. But there was a prophesy that a Japanese will become the world’s leader. If that really happened, I wouldn’t like it. I don’t think it would be good because Japan would become arrogant.”

--Yuko Niwa, 16, a high school student in Tokyo


‘Collective Guilt’

“My mother, who was here in Seattle, had a lot of friends in the Japanese community who were taken away to camps during the war. So that’s one of the impressions I have of that

period. . . .

“I feel a sense of a piece of the collective guilt over Hiroshima. I think that’s something we shouldn’t have done, though it must have looked very different to the people who were involved at the time.


“Could we someday again go to war with Japan? Oh, I think we could get hostile to anybody, given the climate right now. I saw what happened last year with the Gulf War. I think we could be orchestrated into a war with anybody. Japan would be an easy one to go after. I wouldn’t expect it, but I’d believe it if I saw it. And I expect that they could drum up lots of support for it.”

--Bruce Crowley, 40, a graduate student in Seattle