Advertisement●Focusing on historical issues from the overseas point of view chapter 12 The Children I Loved A 98 year old Japanese Woman’s Memories of Her Days in Korea
【2018/6/23・English Edition・25面】 Mrs. Roko Ueno in Fukuoka, Japan turned 98 years old in January this year. She uses a wheelchair, but enjoys reading lots of books, especially history books, and making tanka, Japanese traditional short poems.
Mrs. Roko Ueno in Fukuoka, Japan turned 98 years old in January this year. She uses a wheelchair, but enjoys reading lots of books, especially history books, and making tanka, Japanese traditional short poems.
For 6 years until the end of the WWⅡ, she had been an elementary school teacher for both Korean and Japanese children in Korea during the Japanese annexation. She still has very clear memories, and remembers many things in detail; such as her school, her students, the days when she returned from Korea right after the War, names of people she had met and conversations.
Now, most of the older people with direct knowledge about the war time and the tempestuous period of the Showa Era have passed away, and there are fewer Japanese who can remember that time. Though Mrs. Ueno is very old, she can still talk about what she witnessed and experienced at that time. Her family thought they should keep the records of her precious experiences, and published a book entitled “The Children I Loved: 1939-1945 Memories of a Japanese Woman Teacher in Japan’s Annexation of Korea Days” (Azuma-shoin).
From the book, we learn that in Korea, during the Japanese annexation, teachers worked their best for education, just as same as the teachers did in Japan. We also learn about the good relationship between Japanese and Koreans in those days.
This book also teaches us the facts to pass on to the next generation and gives clues for objective verification. Mrs. Ueno writes as follows:
“I had never seen or heard the scene in which Japanese and Koreans were quarreling or fighting with each other in the town we lived. Furthermore, I had never ever heard that Korean people were moved or taken forcibly by the Japanese Army or police, though Korean people began to say recently that Japanese had treated Koreans terribly as something like slaves.
“If such a story had been true, the whole society in which Japanese and Koreans had been living together peacefully for a long time under the good relationship would have been split into two and chaotic, and resistances or riots would have broken out all over the Korean peninsula.
“We sometimes use the word ‘colony’ to refer to Korea. Though I don’t know what Asian countries colonized by Western countries were like, in Korea, we Japanese and Koreans had the same rights. and were equal with each other as the same human beings. We got along quite well with each other.”
And at the end of book, Mrs. Ueno closes with “Why don’t you look back on the history of Japan? How were they leading lives when your grandparents or great-grandparents were young? How drastically has Japan changed during and after the War? I’d like you to know about Japan, Korea, and all the conditions of the world at that time. I wish that we Japanese and Koreans would understand each other, and keep on good terms with each other forever from the bottom of my heart. It would be my greatest pleasure if this book were useful for it.”
This book is translated into English by one of her sons, Mr. Masahiro Ueno. One day, he happened to hear the news that there was “A lot of Japanese or Japanese descents, especially small children, all over the world being bullied by the Korean people, who are blaming them that they are descendants of the devil Japanese who forced Korean people to be slaves under ‘the Japanese annexation of Korea days.” This news moved him to start the translation.
There are stories such as; “The Koreans those days didn’t only have basic human rights, but they were also treated like slaves and tortured”, “Young women were taken away and forced to be ‘comfort women’ or ‘sex slaves,’ while young men were forced to work at dangerous places such as mines” and “Hundreds of thousands of Korean people were finally killed.” Mr. Ueno was shocked to hear such fake stories were spreading. He worked on his translation, hoping that Japanese children all over the world will learn the facts.
He says “If we hope for Japan to be an honorable nation in the world, we should avoid being cowards who won’t say anything true out of fear of offending others. We’ll be able to maintain the honor and dignity of ourselves, our ancestors, and our descendants, only when we speak out about historical facts, rather than keep silent. And as a result, it will finally improve the relationship between Korea and Japan.”
Please visit our Nadeshiko Action Web site for the English translation of the book “The Children I Loved” at https://bit.ly/2qhw1aP.
Mrs. Ueno will be so delighted if this book helps you understand the truth about Korea and the people during the days of the Japanese annexation.
Yumiko Yamamoto, president of the grass root civil group, “Nadesiko Action,” or “Japanese Women for Justice and Peace.”
NADESIKO ACTION Japanese Women for Justice and Peace http://nadesiko-action.org
24日（日）10:00〜セネガル戦、28日（木）9:00〜ポーランド戦 The Playwrite Irish Pub (27 W.35th St.)