Tamori’s “New Prewar” Statement
Tamori’s “new prewar” remark has triggered an increasing number of voices that have been pointed out in recent years: “The present and pre-World War II Japan look alike,” “The present and prewar atmosphere are similar,” and so on.
However, there are naturally those who are unsure of the evidence and wonder if these are mere impressions.
In such a situation, one person who has been collecting materials related to the war and expressing a sense of crisis on Twitter is Mr. “Shinshu War Documentation Center (no facility yet…)” (hereinafter “Mr. S” / 50s), a resident of Nagano Prefecture.
In my generation, there was still a fair amount of opportunity to meet and hear from war survivors, but now there are fewer and fewer people who know about the war, which is why I started collecting war materials.
The trigger was an antique market in Kiso Fukushima-cho, Nagano Prefecture, on September 25, ’07, where I obtained a wooden gun for 200 yen. It was made by cutting a wooden gun for adults short to fit children’s physique.
When I let my son, who was in elementary school at the time, carry it, it fit him perfectly, and I thought, ‘I can’t let this happen again to children.
I thought, “If I can just collect things, I can do it in between jobs,” he says, but over the past 16 years he has collected more than 5,000 items. In addition to searching through online auctions, antiquarian bookstores, and newspaper articles such as “I found some wartime items and will give them away,” there have been cases where materials have been donated by people who have seen the site on Twitter.
It is a map that incites danger and boosts Japan’s self-esteem as a great nation…
So, what is the sense of crisis “today” that we can see from 16 years of collecting war materials?
For example, there is a document titled “Chart of Invasion of Asia by Western Powers,” which was published privately on January 26, 1937.
This is a document that shows a sense of crisis, saying that the Western powers are invading in this way. There are also books published by various people from the Manchurian Incident to the period before the Sino-Japanese War, describing what would happen after Japan withdrew from the League of Nations and what preparations the Japanese people would have to make.
By the way, what is noteworthy about the earlier “Chart of the Western Powers’ Invasion of Asia” is that it is off the subject, so Japanese aggression is a non-issue.
On the other hand, the map is notated as if each country is targeting China, but there is the Treaty of the Nine Powers, which protects the sovereignty of China, and it was Japan that ignored it and created Manchukuo, but the map does not mention that, showing Japan as a victim standing under threat from the powers.”
The Manchurian Incident is the key point,” says Mr. S., “as it bears a striking resemblance to the present-day situation.
In the October 1933 issue of the magazine “Hinode” (published by Shinchosha), a supplement titled “The Greatness of Japan that Shines in the World” boasted of a “scientific Japan that shines in the world” and “a railroad that is as accurate as a clock,” among other things. Don’t be so pessimistic. Gold and coal will come out of Manchuria and Manchukuo will soon become the richest country in the world.
Manchuria was supposed to be an independent country. The tendency to create enemies outside the country, to deflect criticism, and to incite danger, while at the same time boosting Japan’s self-esteem by telling people that Japan is great and that Japan is great, overlaps perfectly with the current state of the world, doesn’t it?
How “personal information” is collected
Another thing to mention is the method of collecting “personal information,” which is very similar to the “My Number Card,” which has been criticized for its numerous troubles and aggressive way of proceeding.
The “Occupational Ability Declaration Handbook” was created in January 1939, during the Sino-Japanese War, for the purpose of keeping track of certain workers, such as those in the medical and construction fields.
The idea was to have people register their skills in preparation for the war, because if you don’t know what kind of human resources you have and where they are, you can’t make good use of them. Based on this, the “National Recruitment Order” was also enacted in July of the same year, which allowed the necessary personnel to be taken with them when needed. In March 1941, the scope of registration was expanded and became the “National Labor Handbook.
It was also in 1942, during the Pacific War, that the “Pregnant and Child Health Handbook,” which is connected to the current Maternal and Child Health Handbook, was created with the purpose of securing ration allotments for the birth of healthy children to be raised “for the good of the country. In addition, in order to understand and prevent tuberculosis, which was a national problem in Japan at the time, the “Physical Fitness Handbook” issued in 1940 was combined with the “Pregnant and Nursing Mothers Handbook,” and the “Physical Fitness Handbook” was issued to each newborn child immediately. Grown children would have been connected to the “National Labor Handbook.
In the end, by tying everything together, the idea was to have healthy children, raise as many healthy children as possible, and keep track of the number of citizens who were fit for conscription or recruitment.
Such efforts to collect and link personal information are similar to the current practice of forcibly integrating health insurance cards with the my number card, and when I see the aggressive way of adding functions, I am concerned about what will be used for what purpose.
The production of a sense of crisis = J-Alert
Another is “staging a sense of crisis = J-Alert,” he said.
For example, Japan’s first air defense drill was held in Osaka in 1928. It was also held in Nagano in May 1932. There is an internal document that describes where to set up positions on a map of Nagano City and how to have planes fly in and drop mock bombs on the city.
This map shows protective branches, protective command posts, evacuation centers, heavy machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, headquarters, fire brigade headquarters, etc. The area where the Nagano Prefectural Office was located is shaded in red and designated as an “important protective area.
In 1933, during the Kanto Air Defense Exercise, a large number of people were deployed to monitor the air defense of the entire Kanto region, and at night, a “light control” ceremony was held in which lights were turned off to prevent enemy aircraft from spotting them. With the country’s withdrawal from the League of Nations and the growing sense of crisis, I feel that the military took the initiative and came to the forefront to tighten up the situation.
Intervention in “education” and “academics
Furthermore, with national universities becoming independent administrative agencies in 2004, academic freedom has come to be regulated, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has advocated the elimination of humanities programs at national universities and included proposals such as allocating grants according to the results of using miner cards to confirm class attendance at national universities, ” Intervention in “education” and “academics” has come under increasing criticism in recent years.
The same thing can be seen in the school regulations of the prewar and wartime periods.
In a document published in 1943 on children’s life at the national school, there are about 30 rules for “before coming to school.
Wake up as early as possible and set a regular time; put away bedclothes every morning and occasionally expose them to sunlight. Wash your face, rinse your mouth, and brush your teeth every morning. Pray to God. Say good morning to your parents and elders. Have a certain place designated for cleaning. When they meet their neighbors, they greet them with a “good morning.
In “At School,” students line up at the school gate and bow in obeisance at the command of the head of the group, maintain proper posture during class, and always handle textbooks as if they were being pressed.
While there are those who feel suffocated and scared by these detailed rules, there are those who still feel that they are “good” and “safe. This is because there is a certain segment of people who are not good at thinking and acting for themselves, and who do not feel safe without “rules” and “manuals.
I believe that the education to follow the rules during and after the war has its roots in this.
For those who have been taught that obeying the rules is the most important thing, they feel that anyone who speaks out against authority is a bad person and that it is wrong to argue with the teacher.
For those in power, such obedient people who wait for rules and instructions are easy to manage, but in the end, I think this has led not only to a decline in individual thinking skills, but also to a decline in the vitality of the nation as a whole.
In addition to showing and sharing war materials on Twitter, S. also holds an exhibition once a year, the seventh of which will be held at Gallery 82 in Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture (with the Hachijuni Cultural Foundation) from August 8 to 13.
In war, someone is not fighting somewhere, there is no front line, no rear line, no nothing. I want to convey the message that when it comes to war, we are all in this together. I want everyone to think about their future path and make a choice.
Interview and text by： Wakako Takou PHOTO： Shinshu War Documentation Center