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A SUNDAY IN DECEMBER : Viewpoints East and West : 'Japan Did Do Bad Things'

December 03, 1991|WILL BAIN and TAKAKO KIBA | WILL BAIN, 23, teaches English at Kinkaid High School in Houston. TAKAKO KIBA, 52, studied in the United States more than 20 years ago. Now she teaches English to high school students in Osaka

WILL BAIN:

"I don't feel bitter or emotional about Pearl Harbor. I've never held anything against the Japanese people. Both of my grandparents fought in World War II, and one hates the Japanese, but I see it as more historical than anything. I can't get angry about it because I wasn't anywhere near it. I wasn't born then. . . .

"I don't think the surprise attack was cowardly. In fact, militarily, it was a strategically wise thing to do. As I understand it, the reason the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor was to cripple the American fleet so that it wouldn't be able to interfere with Japan's efforts to dominate Asia. . . .

"It's ironic that the Japan (we) bombed to smithereens 50 years ago is an economic power rivaling and threatening to overcome ours.

"I think the Japanese are still an aggressive people. I think Japan's military aggression at Pearl Harbor has turned into the economic aggression that you see today. . . . That aggression makes me somewhat fearful . . . for what might happen 30 years down the road, especially if the American economy continues to be in tatters.

"If there comes a day when Japan owns more real estate and business in the United States than Americans do, then who's to say they'll remember that we helped them rebuild after the war, or were their friends for all these years?

"I thought about moving to Japan to teach English after graduating from college but it seemed to be a confining society, a regimented kind of place. . . . I wouldn't want that type of thinking to overcome the American way of life, because our openness, creativity and ability to connect with others are our best attributes.

"But I think we could use some Japanese discipline to improve our productivity."

TAKAKO KIBA:

"I like America. Japanese always idealize Caucasians--not just Americans. I like the cheerfulness of Americans. When talking, they always think about making little jokes. Even in graduation speeches, they always try to make people laugh. In Japan, if you laugh during a graduation ceremony, people will get angry at you. They'll say you're brash.

"As for what I don't like about America, well, after all, there is discrimination against Japanese. There was a cartoon . . . that put it very well. We say, 'No more Hiroshimas!' But Americans say, 'Remember Pearl Harbor!' . . .

"If we do a Hiroshima anniversary ceremony saying, 'Remember Hiroshima,' then other people may feel that we're ignoring what we did wrong and only emphasizing how we suffered. I feel (the U.S. plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor) can stir up anti-Japanese feeling. But anyway, Japan did do bad things during the war.

"(The annual ceremonies at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are) not aimed at criticizing the people who dropped the atomic bomb. It's aimed at encouraging the whole human race not to repeat this kind of a past.

"If the Pearl Harbor 50th-anniversary memorial is done in a similar way . . . then I think that would be good. But if there's an anti-Japanese feeling to it . . . that would make me feel really bad.

"I saw a television program with Americans saying that they helped Japan economically after the war, but now Japan isn't grateful. But I don't think that's accurate. I write Christmas cards to my American friends, and even now I say, 'Japan's prosperity today is thanks to all of you."'

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