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A SUNDAY IN DECEMBER : Viewpoints East and West : 'We Studied the Bomb'

December 03, 1991|KIYOKO TEZUKA and RENEE QUARTERMAN | KIYOKO TEZUKA, 24, a secretary at a Tokyo finance firm, studied Japan's history in school. But she doesn't know where Pearl Harbor is. RENEE QUARTERMAN has been a secretary for the Georgia Department of Labor in Atlanta for five years. History was her strong point in high school, and she remembers being quizzed on Pearl Harbor


"There were lots of things written in the textbook, but when you study the history of Japan they start at the beginning. By the time you get to the modern history of Japan, you're already running out of time, so we just did it very quickly. So I don't remember it very clearly.

"We studied the atomic bomb in history class and saw the pictures and went to Nagasaki as a high school trip. . . . But some of the teachers avidly taught us some things that weren't written in the textbooks, such as the invasion (of China), to let us know that Japan in the past did such a thing. . . .

"I want (Americans) to understand that (Pearl Harbor) wasn't done by the current generation of Japanese. I don't know what to do about American families who still have hatred toward us. . . .

"I think America is richer than Japan. . . . I don't feel overworked, but Japanese men are overworked. And they have business golf even on holidays, and they can never get out of work. People should change their lifestyle. . . .

"Now I'm single and live with my parents and don't have any housing problems. So I'm comfortable. But when I think about my future, such as after I get married, I will have housing problems. And if I have a child, then the school tuition is very high, and (prices) are going up very quickly. So I think I will have to work harder and harder to make myself comfortable.

"I don't think America has such problems.

"I don't feel Japan is an economic giant. Prices are high, and when I think about the housing problem . . . I can never think Japan is a rich country. I think America is richer."


"I remember learning that it was really a sneak attack. And later on, in a discussion, we talked about whether or not we knew about it in advance. Some said we had signs that something was going to come on, but we ignored it. . . .

"They were trying to conquer the Pacific. They wanted to be in power. They wanted to be superior. They thought they were. . . . They really almost took us out. I know they didn't realize it or they would have gone in for the kill. . . .

"I think that people are people regardless of their race or their color. The Japanese are very intelligent people. As a matter of fact, my orthopedic surgeon is Japanese. They are very, very smart people. To me, you cannot compare them as far as knowledge, to Americans. This is bad.

"I don't know whether their minds are always set on work. I've heard that they would put in easily 80 to 90 hours a week, and think nothing of it. Whereas, we are into, 'Hey, we've got to have time for ourselves.' I believe in that. They just do not know when to stop. . . .

"Some people may think the Japanese are cold. The Japanese are not cold. It's just that you have to get used to their speaking. That's a lot of it. Their speaking is not as warm as Americans. Their words are not as direct. If you had to talk to a Japanese person, and talk to an American person, and they both were saying the same thing, you're going to feel warmer with that American person. . . .

"I'd buy from an American quicker, unless the Japanese was in fact giving me a great deal. I think we are just naturally warm people as far as personalities, and they are not. They are more business-oriented."

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