LETTER: VJ Day for the Japanese: insults, apologies and the future

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From Ms Reiko Iwano

Sir: I, as a Japanese person of the post-war generation, think it is meaningful to confront the 50th anniversary of VJ Day, even if I have never appreciated the name given to it.

When, six years ago, I first came to this country, I was almost ignorant of Japanese aggression in the countries of South-east Asia, and the treatment of the English prisoners of war. This was because our government concealed the facts, and taught us nothing about the war, except about the nuclear bombs. Now that I have come to know quite a few facts about the war - through English and Japanese friends, the media and books - I think that the Allied countries should not justify themselves, nor the war itself, too much; and that the Japanese government must be more open-minded and listen sincerely to the anger of the English veterans, to whom they should make a clear-cut national apology.

On the other hand, in recent days, I have been insulted more frequently than usual by middle-aged and elderly English people. For example, during the last week, in a churchyard after a wedding ceremony, someone said to me, "I don't like Japanese people"; in a high street I was told to "Get out of here"; and an elegant old lady kept asking me, "When are you going back to Japan?"

They have no right to treat me so unfairly just because I am Japanese. Why can't they discuss this issue straightforwardly? I would rather recognise the past properly and think of our better future as global citizens than revenge myself on them for their insults.

Yours sincerely,

Reiko Iwano

London, NW8

14 August

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