Mr. Ohsawa Yuhkichi ( in his MP days ) (20kB)
Mr. Ohsawa Yuhkichi ( 70 years old ) (15kB)
My father passed away 12 years ago in 1986. He died of liver cirrhosis. He was born as Ohsawa Yuhkichi in the family of a land-owning farmer in Gunma Prefecture in 1915. My grandfather was said to be an eccentric person who squandered away his fortune on horse collecting, and my father had a poor and miserable childhood. He couldn't even afford to go to junior high school. As a farmer's third son who only had an elementary school education, the future was gloomy. It was a difficult decision, but he studied fiercely and eventually qualified for the military police. He immediately received a salary almost equal to that of a superintendent of an elementary school.
He spent the next 10 years in the military police. After the war ended, he came home after twice escaping arrest. He started a clothing store, worked hard and became quite successful. I was the youngest of our three siblings, and my father loved me dearly. He taught me simple conversations in Mandarin, and told me stories about how honest the Chinese people were. He also let us children go to see movies such as "I want to become a shell", and "Condition of being a human". My father was a man who would not be fazed by authority, and he was capable of logical thinking. On the other hand, he tended to impose his own opinion too forcefully, and that often caused conflict within our family.
That was the father I knew. Shortly before he passed away, however, he gave
me a piece of paper with the following words.
"I have served in the former military for twelve years and eight months. Among those years, I served tens years as a lower rank China-based army officer (ex-MP warrant officer) in the military police in Tianjin, Beijing, Shanxi Province, Lingfen, Liancheng, Old Manchuria, and Donglin, etc. I participated in the war of aggression. I am very sorry for what I have done to the Chinese people. I want to apologize over and over."
He asked me to have these words engraved on his tombstone. Unfortunately to this day his wish hasn't been fullfilled due to the opposition from our relatives.
I liked my father for his erudition and understanding of humor, and I thought I knew him fairly well. Now I cannot help feeling sad knowing that he had kept such agony deep in his heart without being able to reveal his mind to anyone until the end of his life. I am also ashamed of my own shallowness for not being able to feel for his anguish.
What did my father do during those ten years as a military police, and how many Chinese people did he victimize? I wasn't sure if knowing the truth would mean anything, but nevertheless I visited and asked some of his superiors and subordinates. None of them was willing to give me the answer.
Right now I am doing volunteer work in Mr. Azuma Shiro's trial case, as well as in the case for the military prostitutes, making however small personal contribution I can.
Recently we also started in our neighborhood something called the "Club for the Postwar Generation to Hold Hands". I think it is important for the generation who was born after the war to earnestly face the people of Asia who were the victims in that war. It is also for those of us who have seldom talked about the influence we had received from the previous generations. It would provide us an opportunity to express our own feelings. I hope we will make it a place where all the participants can manage to open up their mind to one another.
(Note: Since then the tombstone for Ms Kurahashi's father has been built
after the relatives gave their permission. Carved on the tombstone are his
"I have served in the former military for twelve years and eight months. Among those years, I served tens years as a lower rank China-based army officer (ex-MP warrant officer) in the military police in Tianjin, Beijing, Shanxi Province, Lingfen, Liancheng, Old Manchuria, Dong Ning, and Donglin, etc. I participated in the war of aggression. I am very sorry for what I have done to the Chinese people. I want to apologize over and over." )