‘Homecomings: The Belated Return of Japan’s Lost Soldiers’: Portraits of lives transformed by war

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By Stephen Mansfield

It’s staggering to think that, at the end of the Pacific War, almost 7 million Japanese servicemen and civilians were awaiting repatriation in various parts of Asia.

That figure makes sense in light of the considerable size of the Japanese empire, which then stretched from New Guinea to the Solomon Islands, from Burma to Manchuria and Hong Kong.

Reintegration into everyday life proved far easier for those Japanese soldiers who returned immediately from overseas. Prisoners of war who were detained for years in Siberian and Chinese camps, however, or stragglers who held out in the jungles on Pacific islands, would find that many of their remembered landscapes, particularly where bombed-out cities were concerned, had been erased.

Yoshikuni Igarashi divides his scrupulously researched book on this topic into three sections: First is the mass media’s representation of returning soldiers and the efforts of writers from their ranks to refute these characterizations; second is a portrait of those who returned alive from Soviet internment camps and a chronicle of their subsequent lives; and the last chapters examine the belated return of soldiers from the South Pacific in the 1970s. Read more

Source: The Japan Times

 

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