8 Hanako Shigenobu

I spotted a swan hugging the edge of a melting ice sheet as I was running around Mystic Lake.



Last week I discussed how Professor Inouye warned us that Japan would begin disappointing us and during week 8 I really felt it. This is primarily due to the brutality from Nanking, which heavily contrasted the bushido values we read about during week 7. Bushido discussed honor, respect, benevolence, politeness, and self control, and we see many of these values, which the Nanking warriors lacked, in the kamikaze suicide bombers. “The kamikaze volunteers were conditioned by the Japanese metaphysics of death as expressed both in traditional samurai philosophy and in religion” (Morris 316). So the samurai values, which, according to Bushido, are innate in the Japanese, helped the kamikaze bombers fulfill their duties. However, these values were lost in the Nanking warriors. For example: “In the end the soldier killed her, ripping open her belly with his bayonet and jerking out not only her intestines but a squirming fetus” (Chang 86). The unnecessary torture and murder of Nanking demonstrated Japan’s loss of etiquette during this period as she modernized and advanced, especially militarily. I think it is important to look at last week’s lectures to determine the root cause of these atrocities. In class it was mentioned that the Japanese were scared to death of being colonized and even though they were able to resist it, westernization flooded Japan, causing a temporary loss of identity. Form and etiquette, which were so true to Japanese culture, were lost in this process and traded for the ideas of “rich country, strong army” and “conquer or be conquered”. These idea were drivers for both the kamikazes and the Nanking warriors, so I think the common link was the strong patriotism and desire to aestheticize death.

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