Remember Pearl Harbour

August 27, 2005

A Japanese pilot remembers that day:

…”All my concentration was focused on that scope, and I couldn’t think about anything else but the target,” says Abe, now 89 and – by his own admission – a wiser man than the daring pilot who at Pearl Harbour fired one of the first shots of the second world war in the Pacific.

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He raises his eyes slightly as he re-examines the memories of 7 December 1941, but finally shakes his head.

Abe did not know it at the time, but the three Aichi Type 99 “Val” aircraft that he led on the bombing run against the USS Raleigh worsened the damage caused by an aerial torpedo dropped a short while earlier, although the crew managed to keep the warship afloat and it was later repaired. None of the crew was killed.

Another part of the story that Abe only discovered after the war was that the attack was carried out before Japan had declared war against the United States.

“I had always believed the attack was preceded by a declaration of war 30 minutes earlier,” he said. “When I did find out, I was extremely shocked and frustrated. I felt terrible regret. In war, surprise is a justifiable military tactic that is often effective, but it can only be justified if it is preceded by an official declaration of war.”

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Fighting a new battle now, against cancer, Abe says that greater diplomatic efforts in the run-up to the attack on Pearl Harbour could have avoided bloodshed and laments the failure of young Japanese today to acknowledge what his generation lived through.

“Most Japanese people don’t know anything about Pearl Harbour,” he says. “In the United States, every time that December 7th comes around they make sure they remember. The differences between the two countries are vast.”

A soldier is a soldier, no matter what side of the line they are shooting from. Go read the whole piece, then remember why we fight wars. Both sides lie to their troops to get them to fight. Both sides of war are wrong. But still we fight on, killing so a few can have more.

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