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95-year-old veteran of Japanese invader confesses



As a victim

Although Sho witnessed the Nanjing massacre, he kept silent after receiving strict orders not to speak about what he had seen to anyone during his New Year leave at home.

Sho's house is quite simple. The residential community where he lives is a little crowded. We are told that is an affordable residential community built with a government subsidy. Sho recalled after retiring from military service he initially lived a homeless and miserable life. He was also a victim of the Japanese invasion. "The war deprived me of the opportunity of completing my studies as well as forcing me to leave my beloved home. My hometown in Ehime prefecture was bombed. I began to hate war."

Returning to his hometown, Sho found that he could do nothing. Although he grew up in a rural area, he never learnt anything about farm work. It was quite difficult for him to learn from scratch. He wanted to leave his hometown to seek opportunities elsewhere. However, it was not easy to find a job.

Finally he found a stable job as a security guard at a local police station. However, he was fired after he sent a newspaper cutting to a detained criminal suspect. Sho had to find another way to make a living. He worked as a coolie in Kyoto. He remembers rain dripping into his house from a hole in the roof. In 1960, a storm blew the roof off of his house. Without any place to live, he traveled to Osaka. "During that time, I did different jobs such as temporary work, selling rice, slaughtering oxen etc. Life was very difficult." He settled down after eventually finding a job in a hospital in Osaka. He worked there until his retirement.


Even though Sho is 95 years old he is still articulate and quick-thinking. In his view it was a militaristic education that led him and his contemporaries to join the war effort. Japan must first recognize and reflect on its history to achieve understanding and permanent peace, he said.

Fables put youths in the battlefield

"The education we accepted when we grew up was ‘sacrificing our lives for the emperor was the most glorious thing'," he recalled. Sho picked up a photo from his school days and said the school used bugles to mark the start and end of classes. During free time, the students were divided into red and white teams. One played the role of the Chinese and the other acted as Japanese. Those students who played the Japanese always shouted "Kill all the Chinese," he remembered.

Then he sang a song called War Song of Miaohang Town, which was well known by the students, all of whom could sing it, he said. The subject of this song was what was known as the "Incident of January 28" when three soldiers who were carrying bombs rushed to the Chinese garrison in Miaohang town in Shanghai, opening an offensive path by sacrificing their lives. "This brainwashing and militaristic education led me to become a militaristic juvenile," said Sho, adding he had been eager to grow up and show his allegiance to the emperor early in his school days. He quit school and joined the navy when he was 18 years old.

Sho became a military instructor in the naval air force. He bent down and picked up a photo of him in uniform. "I took this photo in Hokkaido for my funeral," he said. Many of his fellow students joined the kamikaze commandos and died in suicide attacks. Everyone thought that giving their lives for the emperor was an honor. Even Sho did not need to go to war directly because he was an instructor; he was still prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The truth of the massacre cannot be obliterated

At the end of the last century, Japan continued to deny the Nanjing massacre took place. As a participant in the war, Sho, in retirement, was unable to bear anymore.

When he saw the hot line in 1997 that Ms Matsuoka Tamaki started to collect the testimony of old soldiers who had invaded China, he showed up as a witness, took part in many public meetings and told the Japanese public about the history.

"The Nanjing massacre did not take place? It is a lie," Sho said animatedly. This war cost 20 million lives in Asia and also caused the deaths of more than 3 million Japanese. The facts about this invasion should not be ignored. The war turned humans into demons; they massacred prisoners, civilians and raped women. They should feel ashamed about that." He added: "I will not rest in peace if I don't speak of the atrocities committed by the Japanese army against others, or plead forgiveness from the Nanjing people."

On December 13, 2007, 70 years after the Nanjing massacre, the then 88-year-old Sho, accompanied by three of his family members, returned to Nanjing. ‘"All his relatives were against this and afraid of getting into trouble. But my father was adamant about making an apology and said that this was his last opportunity in his lifetime," his daughter said.

Want to live to 100, fight against deviation from the truth

From time to time some Japanese still deny their history of invasion and the Nanjing massacre. The Abe regime wants to use political trickery and speak of collective self-defense and even attempts to revise the pacifist constitution. It makes Sho angry. "Abe is scandalous. I really want to challenge him to a fight," he said.

Sho thinks Japan must first recognize and reflect on its history and apologize sincerely or it will never receive forgiveness from countries such as China. "Without reflection, the rise of militarism will drag Japan into another war," he said.

"On December 13 this year, the Chinese Government will hold a national memorial ceremony, not only for the maintenance of peace throughout the world but also as retaliation against the Japanese government, which denies its history. We shall aggregate powers that are against war to prevent the resurrection of militarism," Sho said.

Over the past 10 years Sho has been attacked by the Japanese right wing because of his insistence on the truth. Some Japanese veterans who were part of the invasion of China also criticized him. But he has not shrunk back.

"I can't stand the lies. I don't understand why those old soldiers can keep silent. My strength is limited but I want to live to be 100 years old and fight against the forces who want to cover up the real history," the old man stated forcefully.

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