Hiroko Sherwin was eight when Japan finally surrendered shortly after the dropping of the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. She herself narrowly avoided death when her town was bombarded by American B-29 bombers in the course of Japan’s epic fifteen-year wars, resulting in her country’s devastation.
Much, much later she returned to her homeland to interview an assortment of survivors, to hear their memories of the conflicts and the aftermath. All are harrowing and often painful. More importantly, perhaps, she faces the legacy of post-war Japan’s carefully staged recreation of its militaristic past, the consequences of recovery and the possibility of present generation Japanese politicians keen to play a more aggressive role in the modern world.
It is one thing to reflect on the dark side of history by myself and quite another to translate the soldiers’ words into English and expose an ugly part of my country’s history to the wider world…
David Clark has been a cabinet minister and member of the House of Commons for over 25 years, including as MP for Colne Valley. He is currently a Labour Life Peer. He is also Visiting Professor of History and Politics at the University of Huddersfield, and has taught previously at Manchester and Salford Universities. He is the author of The Industrial Manager, Colne Valley: Radicalism to Socialism, We Do Not Want the Earth: History of the South Shields Labour Party and The Labour Movement in Westmorland, Voices from Labour’s Past.