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A SUNDAY IN DECEMBER : Viewpoints East and West : 'Both Sides Are Wrong'

December 03, 1991|GRANT McWHORTER and MIDORI TOMIMATSU, | GRANT McWHORTER, 14, is a freshman at Klein Forest High School in Houston. MIDORI TOMIMATSU, 16, is a sophomore at Chitosegaoka High School in Tokyo

GRANT McWHORTER:

"We haven't learned about Pearl Harbor yet. We're only up to the 1920s in history. But I know the Japanese blew up a lot of ships and killed a lot of people and that it was a surprise and got us into the war.

"I think we probably did something to get the Japanese mad enough to want to retaliate, but I'm not sure what.

"My generation is not the generation that did Pearl Harbor, so I don't feel anything against the Japanese. . . . You shouldn't blame Japanese people today for something their relatives did during a war.

"I think the Japanese are hard-working people, and they're our friends. The Japanese do well because they work so hard. The Oriental people I know at school study very hard and really work for their grades. They aren't happy with an A-minus--they want an A-plus. I'm satisfied with As and Bs, but people I know are satisfied with Cs, and I think they should try to be more Japanese when it comes to working hard because that way we can compete with them better later on.

"The Japanese are farther along than we are in a lot of things, like their education is better, and their lifestyles are better. There isn't as much poverty or homelessness as there is here. That's probably because they have more job opportunities there with all the big companies they have in Japan, like Toshiba and all that.

"I think that some Americans work their hours and go home, and a lot of Japanese work much longer hours. They're willing to sacrifice more of their weekends for their companies, which in a way is good, and in a way bad, because it puts their family at risk. They don't spend enough time with their families. . . .

"The Japanese are developing better ideas than we are and make a lot of things that we want to buy here. But I doubt they would become more powerful than the United States because we're a bigger country, and we're going to come back with better technology in the future.

"It's just that right now they're ahead of us. But you know, they have a few problems of their own. They have a high suicide rate because people can't handle so much pressure to work all the time. I'd hate to have to live like that.

MIDORI TOMIMATSU:

"Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and then things began from there. . . .

"I wonder why they didn't have anniversary ceremonies sooner. It seems strange that they forgot it for 50 years. Everybody should look back on the past of each of our countries and . . . not have war anymore.

"Our junior high school history textbook started in the Neolithic Period. But the war portion was quite long. The writing was very graphic about Japanese killing Chinese--things like cutting out their eyeballs with knives, or putting swords into their mouths to cut them open. This wasn't in the textbook but in a handout that the teacher gave us (about the Nanjing massacre). . . .

"Japanese textbooks are written to make it seem that Japan didn't do such bad things . . . as if Japan was always being attacked. . . . (When) I realized it was not so, I thought they should have written more truth. I would be worried about (future students) if they don't learn such things.

"I also fear that there will start to be some children who think that war isn't such a bad thing. I saw a news program about how people get their senses dulled to war and don't have the feeling that this is killing human beings. They feel like it's a video game. . . . During the Gulf War, it became an issue. There were no scenes of people dying, so people feel it's like watching a game. Probably they can't show people dying on television, but this way we don't feel the terror. . . .

"In war, you can't really say which side is wrong. Anyway, both sides are killing people. Both sides are wrong. . . .

"I couldn't agree with the idea of sending our Self-Defense Forces (to the Persian Gulf). Japan contributed ($11) billion but got criticized for its not being enough. But I thought it strange to hear people talking about whether or not we gave enough money for the war. War kills people. So why do we have to give money? . . . I think (the government) should have insisted on our position of not getting involved in a war.

"(If Japan had a military draft for both men and women) I think I'd probably run away to a place where they couldn't find me. If it's a matter of killing people, I don't want to go."

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