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

From Mr Satoru Yoshida

Sir: I have just heard the Japanese Prime Minister make an apology for wartime cruelty. As an ordinary Japanese person living in London, I sympathise with the distress and suffering of British veterans.

When you think about "Japanese" what sort of image do you get? Are we old/young, fat/thin, male/female, middle class/working class? It seems to me the typical image is of an inscrutable, middle-aged, male bureaucrat or politician, or a totally obsolete geisha girl.

Obviously, we are not totally homogeneous. You may not know it, but we have strong grassroots peace movements. For example, the Hiroshima atomic bomb victims and the Korean people had a joint exhibition in Seoul entitled "Japanese Invasion and Hiroshima".

On VE Day, I felt that Germany's apology was accepted as a sign of reconciliation. British people are aware of the diversity of German society: the Greens, liberals, housewives, anti-fascists, gays and concerned citizens.

Not all German people are Nazis, and neither are all Japanese people war criminals. I hope that British and Japanese people will be able to build up a bond and overcome the past.

Yours faithfully,

Satoru Yoshida

London, N19

11 August