Lessons from Iwo Jima: Trilateral Relations Between Japan, China, and the US

Mix together Clint Eastwood, Ken Watanabe, Ninomiya Kazunari, and add a touch of history to get the Academy Award-winning “Letters from Iwo Jima,” the companion-piece to “Flags of our Fathers.” A recent war-movie on the Pacific War, the two movies received worldwide acclaim for accurately depicting the gruesome realities of war.

65 years has elapsed since the Battle of Iwo Jima, which involved some 22,000 Japanese and 100,000 American combatants. Today, little is spoken of the event, and despite a brief blip from the two movies, the lessons of Iwo Jima have all but faded from the public mind.

Mr.James Bradley, the author of the book Flags of Our Fathers and the man who wrote the story which would later become the groundwork for the two movies, came to Japan and gave a lecture about how he was influenced to write the book.

To be honest, I was absolutely fascinated. Especially when he talked about how he went through over 200 books to research the historical facts behind the little-known battle.
But what I really wanted to know was what kind of lessons we can learn today from a battle where tens of thousands of Japanese and Americans had died.

When it came time to ask Mr.Bradley for questions, I raised my hand without hesitation and cut right down to the chase when my turn came and asked:

“Mr. Bradley, in your presentation you described Japan, China, and the United States, and it seems like today the economic relationships between these countries are warming, but politically, there’s still room to de-thaw. What do you think is the biggest impediment to the trilateral relationship between these countries, and how do you think this can be overcome?”

In a very humble way, Mr.Bradley first responded by saying that he’s a historian and his field of expertise is about events 100 years into the past. He was quick, however, to offer a very lucid response:

“Very recently I talked in front of 4th graders. I asked them, ‘tell me about a friend you haven’t met.’ They all looked stumped, but this is really what’s at the core of establishing relationships between countries. It’s much easier to go to war with someone you don’t know than someone you do know. If it was up to me, I’d kidnap half of the children in America and FedEx them across the world so we can have true, human relationships between countries.”

The audience laughed at the FedEx joke and cheered.
Bravo Mr.Bradley, Bravo.

Establishing peace between countries is really as simple as that. It’s all about getting to really know each other. Once you get to know your “enemy,” then you can realize that he sleeps just like you do, eats three meals just like you do, and even has a mom and dad just like you do.

We have so many more similarities than we do differences, and that’s what this world really needs to realize.

After all, we’re all human, and that should be reason enough for mutual understanding.

//By Ryo TAKAHASHI

4 Responses to “Lessons from Iwo Jima: Trilateral Relations Between Japan, China, and the US”

  1. Hiro Shimoto says:

    I’ve never seen Letters from Iwo-Jima or Flags of Our Fathers just out of the fact that its a topic thats a little too close for comfort for me. But after reading this entry it made me want to watch both. Bravo Mr. Takahashi, Bravo.

  2. fender says:

    japan is going well.

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