Hello, everyone. I’m pleased to meet you. My name is Koji Yabe.
Two years ago. I launched a series of books on Japanese history entitled Rediscovering Japanese History After World War II (published by Sogensha Co., Ltd.). It is still ongoing, and the first book, The Truth of Post-War History by Ukeru Magosaki, has sold as many as 220 thousand copies. Perhaps you have heard of it.
Shortly after this series began, I received an email from a reader, maintaining that the Japanese are on a journey to solve “a great mystery.”
I strongly agree with this statement. Since the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011, we Japanese have witnessed events in daily life that seem inexplicable.
Why did such an enormous accident occur?
Why are none of those responsible being charged, and why can’t the victims receive adequate compensation?
Why have University of Tokyo professors and major press organizations continued to maintain that nuclear power plants (NPPs) are completely safe?
Why has Japan continued to use NPPs, while third-party countries like Germany and Italy have decided, as a result of the Fukushima accident, to abolish nuclear power plants?
Finally, why have government officials and medical personnel continued to ignore the evident health problems–mainly those of children–in Fukushima?
Everyone is aware of how wrong it is that such questions go unanswered. Yet we’ve been unable to put a stop to the conditions giving rise to them. We’ve been at a loss about how to move toward a solution. That is the situation we have been in and are in now.
This book is an endeavor to find the key to this mystery of postwar Japanese history, since the time immediately following Japan’s defeat in World War II.
As you will see in relation to the U.S. military base issue that I will explore below, Japan does not seem to be a normal country. We may surely, therefore, continue to face such catastrophic events. In addition, the attendant damage may be hidden from public view by the Special Secrecy Law enacted in December 2013. And in the same way that such information is concealed, Japan may become a country that engages in wars of overseas aggression in accordance with the government’s selfish reinterpretations of the Constitution.
Such thoughts sometimes make me feel discouraged and depressed.
On the other hand, I also come across occurrences of what makes me feel happy and encouraged: people across Japan embarking on the journey of solving what my email correspondent called “the great mystery.”
In 2010, a year before experiencing the Great East Japan Earthquake in Tokyo and then facing the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I started researching the U.S. military base problem in Okinawa. As I will explain in detail below, the process of gathering information on the U.S. bases brought endless surprises for me. I became acutely aware that the foundation of Japan’s position, which I had been so proud of until recently, has been a complete wreck.
Yet, on the other hand, there were positive discoveries too. In the few years since I started research on such issues and wrote books on them, I was able to meet numerous admirable people: various citizens’ groups, mothers, government officials, politicians, lawyers, journalists, scholars, doctors, musicians, actors, CEOs, office workers, and so on. Whatever their social standing, they were trying in their own way to solve the “great mystery.” Such people exist all over the country, in many fields. They are scattered, and therefore inconspicuous. But the number is not small.
The problem that we Japanese face today is vast and, at the same time, shrouded in infinite darkness.
Nevertheless, this means that the sight of people struggling to tackle it without regard for their own interests is all the more emotionally compelling to us.
Whether we can succeed in reaching our destination is, frankly, unknown. We have an obligation, however, to make efforts to the best of our abilities. We also have an obligation to ensure that Japan’s immense but foundering postwar society advances into the next era with as little conflict and bloodshed as possible. No doubt this is the view shared by those embarking on this journey to find the answer to the “great mystery.”
I had this in mind too, when I wrote this book.
I sincerely hope that it will serve as a catalyst for my readers to start their own journey.
A U.S. military aircraft is skimming over buildings to land at the Futenma base in Okinawa / © Shintaro Suda