Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The Faces of Post-War Japan that Photographer had Encountered: Anniversary of the 60 Years Of Occupation
It began with smiles. Kind faces. As if their expression were trying to speak to us. It was smile rather than hatred that the Japanese civilian had shown toward the camera that the US military personnel had aimed at. On September 9, 1945, the signing of formal surrender had begun on USS Missouri floating the Tokyo Bay. While people from all over the world were focusing on this historic moment of Japanese surrender, one US military Camera-man left the ship, landed on Tokyo soil and moved into the Tokyo city.
US Navy Special Photo Group Lt. John Swope wanted to know how the Japanese felt before the beginning of the occupation period in Japan. From that day, for three weeks, Swope captured the facial expression of Japanese civilians. According to Swope, “most of the general public showed closeness,” and “they were surprisingly obedient, and there was no problem saying that they were menial.”
It had only been half a month since the public radio announcement of surrender. Swope wrote in his memoir, “It seemed like people looked completely exhausted. It looked as if they are too tired to even have a hope for tomorrow. Japan is in one of the most devastated state both in physically and mentally.”
However, there was not hatred or suspicion toward American GI (This was not entirely true if you read John Dower's Embracing Defeat). Some people invited him to their house and served tea. When he tried to buy a bottle of beer and tried to pay, the shop clerk, taken aback and said, “The Conquerors are paying?”
Engineers at the Military Factory praised the high standard of the US technology and productivity during the war and the extremely efficient offensive power of B-29 bomber.
The US and Japan killed each other in the ruthless war. However, the Japanese were proceeding the course toward accommodation in the first step of the resumption.
Sixty years later, the terror is still continuous in Iraq where the US is experiencing another conquest. The Bush Administration called the Post-war Japan as Iraq though it did not turn out to be the same case. Why Japan did not turn out to be like Iraq?
Translator's note: Hello audience. Due to my lack of time, I could only translate stuff with some modification. I hope I won't get law suits from Asahi Newspaper co. http://www.asahi.com/english/english.html for the translation skill is mine and I did not find the exact translation of the article due to the article was on paper version. Thanks to Asahi Newspaper co and everyone, please, read Asahi if you are interested in Japan ;) This article continued on the Related Opinion essay on Opinion news project of the same news paper) And Lt. Swope's photos are shown at Kiyosato Museum of Photogenic Arts at http://www.kmopa.com/index_e.htm. (ps. I will try to write why Japan was different from US involvement in Iraq may be later)