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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Joy Kogawa's Speech for Article 9 Event in Toronto

(This original English version will be followed by the Chinese version.)

Article 9
(for May 15, 09, OISE/University of Toronto)

I'm a Canadian of Japanese descent. Every night as a small girl, my issei mother told me Japanese folk stories of love between parent and child. On the piano stood a green and gold statue of Ninomiya Kinjiro, a book open in his hands, twigs on his back, teaching himself to read as he worked. All this was the Japanese way. Love of family, love of learning, love of labour. To be Japanese was to be like my mother, yasashi, gentle, quiet, dignified, bending to the will of others.

But during World War II, to be Japanese meant something else altogether. Suddenly I was no longer Canadian and no longer Japanese. I was a Jap. According to the new reality, I was part of the most despised race on earth. What they were capable of, what they in fact did during the war defied description and defied belief. Beheadings, mass killings, rape, biological warfare, live burials, burning whole villages to the ground, tossing bodies into ten thousand people pits, unimaginable tortures, unimaginable medical experiments, unimaginable barbarity and cruelty.

Kill all burn all loot all.

Japan's complete loss of its moral compass was undergirded by a lie. The Yamato race was not superior.

Germany's children, unlike Japan's, have faced and acknowledged their horrific past. They learned the truths of the Holocaust, not from their parents, but from survivors. Germany, by enacting a law that it is a crime to deny the Holocaust, by compensating victims, by keeping the past in the consciousness of the country, has taken the necessary moral steps of a civilized society. Where in Japan, in the country of my ancestors, are the museums and the monuments, the movies, the books, the school projects, the special commemorations and the national outpouring of grief for its past atrocities?

In a time of fear and nuclear threat, the best defense I can think of for Japan is for its government and its people to fully express its collective sorrow and shame for its military actions during World War II. With deep and genuine apologies from the entire country, one could hope for relationships with neighbouring countries based on an enduring foundation of reconciliation and bonds of human affection that would be far deeper than one of mere convenience and commerce. If Japan continues to diminish or attempt to forget its atrocities, it will fail to develop the ways of peace, or to be a country of moral leadership.

As the horror of the militaristic spirit rises again in Japan, so too must the horror of its warring past. The children of Japan must know the truths of World War II and assume its burden.

The one thing that I find admirable in Japan, as a person of Japanese ancestry, is the existence of Article 9. It is Japan's primary and, I believe, its most effective acknowledgment of its culpability. If we lose Article 9, we will lose what is most mature, most humane, decent and hopeful in a world of conflict. We will lose what is best in today's Japan. I echo this last line from Tama Copithorne from whom I heard it first. Article 9 is the best of Japan.

Joy Kogawa

(This speech was given as an opening address of the Article 9 Event on May 15, 2009 held at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.)

以下是Joy Kogawa女士演讲的中文全文翻译,由Arc Han翻译:








Joy Kogawa 女士在2005年5月15日与多伦多大学教育系的宪法九条集会上作上述演讲。

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