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Saotome Katsumoto interview, 10 August 2009, part 7

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I made my call for the establishment of the Association to Record the Air Raids in 1970. So twenty-five years had passed. A quarter of a century. During that time the air raids were mostly forgotten. There are a variety of reasons for that. First of all, during the war itself, the military completely suppressed information regarding the raids and the suffering incurred by civilians. Furthermore, after the war ended, the American occupation began. A press code was enforced to censor information regarding the raids. Only regarding the nuclear bombings, because they were such an object of international attention, could the Americans not control the spread of information. So even though they tried to suppress information, knowledge about the effects of the nuclear bombs spread. But no one really tried to be critical of the raids on Tokyo. The topic was pretty much shrouded in darkness for twenty-five years. In fact, I believe the mass media was largely ignorant of the whole thing. Newspapers, radio... They hardly ever made any mention of the air raids. So it was in this type of environment that I did record my own experiences, but I suppose it was done a bit too hurriedly really. It was very amateurish. I'm afraid you might go back and read it so I'm purposefully not mentioning the name of the book! But it is sometimes requested, so the volume is still in print. At any rate, I really began to fear that the air raid horrors might be completely forgotten. Public memory was thinning and eventually the generation that had experienced it all firsthand would grow old and die. After that it would be completely forgotten. No knowledge passed on... No expressing of the experience to the next generation... I knew I couldn't overcome these obstacles by myself, so I wondered if it would be possible to establish a group to record the air raid experience in an organized fashion. Luckily, the governor of Tokyo at the time was MINOBE Ryokichi, who had received the endorsement of both the socialist and communist parties. I thought there was a chance that he might be interested in helping because he had originally been an university professor. I began to approach people with my idea. And that's how the Association to Record the Air Raids was born. We immediately approached the governor for assistance regarding our plan to gather American documents and record the air raids as civilians. He immediately decided to cooperate. --Why was Governor Minobe so positive?-- Well, in that respect he's definitely different from the current governor ISHIHARA Shintaro... Minobe was known as the "reformist governor" and a lot of it had to do with his feelings along those lines. And of course, he was a professor from the Tokyo University of Education. His father MINOBE Tatsukichi was a great scholar who had been persecuted during the war years. As a second generation scholar, Minobe had liberal sentiments in his blood. He was an intellectual... He'd received the support of the socialists and communists because of his progressivism and I believe this played a part as well. So we received both economic and moral support from the metropolitan government and the Association set off to accomplish its mission. However, Tokyo wasn't the only city to be bombed. Cities throughout the nation were attacked. Once the mass media began to report on our activities, similar grassroots movements sprung up all around the country. --From what year?-- From 1971... Our group began to receive attention in 1970. And by 1971 others were established. The Association to Record the Yokohama Air Raids, The Association to Record the Kawasaki Air Raids... University professors were at the center of most organizations. And they spread to Nagoya, Osaka, and the rest of the country. This idea to record the air raids from the perspective of the civilians who suffered under them... One reason it spread so quickly was due to the intense fighting in Vietnam. American aircraft were once again launching from Okinawa. Day in and day out... With that taking place, the air raids no longer seemed like a thing of the past. Japan had become an accessory to the bombing. Such sentiment became a strong under draft in the movement. It was horrible to think that as past victims of air raids ourselves we were a part of the attacks against the Vietnamese people. It was during this time that I became a part of the anti-war movement as well. I was even invited to Hanoi before the war ended. In spite of the harsh wartime conditions, they treated me much as a guest of state. My invitation had come by telegram in 1975 to participate in traditional Tet New Year's festivities. So I went. And somehow I managed to make it back safely just before the war ended.

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 21 seconds
Country: United States
Language: Japanese
Genre: None
Views: 277
Posted by: japanairraids on Sep 14, 2010

Saotome Katsumoto interview, 10 August 2009, part 7

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