Writer Hisashi Inoue speaks Hiroshima, says "indifference could invite war"

by Kazunobu Ito, Staff Writer

Hisashi Inoue, 74, a writer and one of the architects of the Article 9 Association, which calls for defending the current Japanese Constitution, visited Hiroshima and addressed the inaugural meeting of the Children’s Books and Article 9 Association Hiroshima. He spoke about the nature of war, the influence of the Japanese Constitution internationally, and his personal thoughts about Hiroshima.

Mr. Inoue related the death tolls in wars since World War I, saying, “If we don’t understand the real nature of war, we cannot generate sufficient strength to oppose war.”

“In World War I, military personnel accounted for 95% of the death toll and ordinary citizens accounted for only 5%,” he explained. “However, in World War II, the ratio grew closer, 52% to 48%. In the Korean War, the ratio was reversed, 16% to 84%. And in the Vietnam War, the death toll was just 5% military personnel to 95% civilians. This means that civilians have accounted for the vast majority of the death toll in recent wars,” said Mr. Inoue.

Based on these figures, he stressed that the horror of indifference could invite another war. “And if war breaks out,” he said, “only a few soldiers will die. Instead, it will be the ordinary people, the ones who failed to heed the warnings, who will account for most of the deaths.”

  Mr. Inoue recounted the historical facts surrounding how the Japanese Constitution helped play a role in concluding the Antarctic Treaty. After World War II, Japan returned to the international community and participated in the Antarctic observation program. In this effort, several nations came into conflict, claiming their territorial sovereignty of the Antarctic. To address the dispute, Hiroshi Kida, an Education Ministry bureaucrat and a native of Hiroshima, represented Japan in the negotiations. Mr. Kida was able to successfully sway the quarreling parties by offering the participants the English translations of such documents as the Preamble and Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. “Mutual trust is essential in international relations,” stressed Mr. Inoue. Mr. Kida’s effort is believed to have resulted in the Antarctic Treaty, which imposes a freeze on territorial sovereignty claims.

“The Japanese Constitution incorporates the truth acquired by the world’s human beings through blood, sweat, and tears, embodied by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man,” Mr. Inoue emphasized. “That truth is decisive.”

  Mr. Inoue has written a number of works based on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, including plays titled The Face of Jizo (Chichi to kuraseba) and Shonen Kudentai 1945.

“When the children of my age in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were witnessing hell, I was practicing for a summer festival,” he said. “I feel tremendously indebted to them and I wanted to write about Hiroshima at some point in the future. I still consider Hiroshima and Nagasaki sacred places.”

Mr. Inoue referred to creative activities by such artists as writers, painters, and musicians, including himself, and concluded by saying, “Our task is to visualize things which are normally unseen in society. We therefore have a duty to investigate and convey this reality.”

(Originally published on July 2, 2009)

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