Kaname Harada once fought against the United States of America.
He was a Japanese fighter pilot. He’s 98 now. Frail. Near the end of the line … apparently.
Harada has some wisdom for his government, one that sent him and other young warriors to fight in World War II: Don’t get involved again, ever, in war.
Harada is concerned that Japan might rewrite its constitution to allow its fighting forces to deploy abroad. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is thinking about revising the document, which prohibits Japanese armed forces from doing anything other than protecting the island nation from attack.
Abe was incensed at the Islamic State’s brutal murder of two Japanese journalists. Indeed, the world was incensed.
He ought to heed to advice of an aging Japanese Zero pilot.
Harada spoke recently to an audience about his experience in WorAS ld War II. They were enthralling and chilling all at once. According to the New York Times: “Nothing is as terrifying as war,” he began, before spending the next 90 minutes recounting his role in battles, from Japan’s early triumph at Pearl Harbor to its disastrous reversals at Midway and Guadalcanal. “I want to tell you my experiences in war so that younger generations don’t have to go through the same horrors that I did.”
Indeed, I have learned in recent years that the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is attracting aging Japanese warriors who are coming to the United States to pay their respects at the memorial that stands over the sunken hulk of the battleship sunk during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack — which brought the United States into the world war. These men are now getting old, just as our brave men and women are aging. They were following orders and doing their duty as they saw it.
As Harada told the Times: “I fought the war from the cockpit of a Zero, and can still remember the faces of those I killed,” said Mr. Harada, who said he was able to meet and befriend some of his foes who survived the war. “They were fathers and sons, too. I didn’t hate them or even know them.”
This old man’s wisdom is profound. It is gripping. It needs to be heard by all those who believe war ever is a sane option to any dispute between or among nations.