Australia-Japan Research Project

AustraliaJapan Research Project at the Australian War Memorial
Australian and Japanese attitudes to the war
Diary of TAMURA Yoshikazu: Human relationships in the military

The next long prose piece appears towards the latter part of the diary. Four months have passed since their landing in Wewak. The troops were worn out due to hard construction labour, poor nutrition and tropical illness. TAMURA felt completely dejected when his superior called him “selfish”, as we read in the next section. He struggled to make sense of the self-sacrifice he was making for the military and the nation. His handwriting for this entry is not as tidy as usual, probably because he was emotionally charged when he wrote.

“Remonstrance”
22 June
The company commander gave me a dressing-down. What happened was, I was lying in bed with exhaustion and headache, and the commander passed by our hut. Somebody shouted to salute, but I failed to do so.

He had ordered me to see the doctor. However, since I did not feel it was anything serious and since the rest period was going to be long, I had not obeyed his order. Later, the commander summoned me and asked me why I had not gone to see the doctor. That was the first issue he raised. He expressed his anger and said that I did not possess enough will power. “Although you were not faking illness, things were not sorted out.” “It was rude.” “When a soldier fails to salute, he is gravely irresponsible.” He continued to accuse me of acting selfishly and behaving differently to different people.

I did not feel ashamed, as my conscience was clear, but the commander’s words made me aware of one thing. If my spirit can be divided into a main line and a sub line, my sub line is growing too long.

My whole life has been devoted wholeheartedly to the Emperor, and my sense of dedication is genuine. However, I cannot help feeling a certain way. We did not care about our lives. I realise now that was the problem. We should not behave as if we do not care about anything, just because our lives are out of our control. We should contemplate how we could best utilise our lives for the cause, but we did not think about it much before.

I was called selfish, and that might be true. But having being labelled as selfish struck me hard. How dare he call me selfish? I have been giving my utmost priority to the public cause. I was so sad when he said I was selfish. He clearly did not understand the effort I had put in. I have been toiling for the greater good of the public cause up till now. But my efforts seem to have been in vain.

When I was called to salute and did not, I was dishonest. I have to admit that. I would not mind if he reprimanded me further on this aspect. I would not hold a grudge against him at all. Yet, when he concluded that I would be fearful in the face of death or would hesitate to die for the country just because I missed a salute, I was devastated. It was so shameful. As a person, I cannot imagine any more shameful incident than this. When I reflect upon myself, I cannot say I never feared death. However, I would never act as if I feared death on the battlefield. I will produce results and the commander will eat his words about my being selfish. That will be the best chance for my sincere intentions to be known. I will wait for that chance. I will not neglect training, in order to clear this shame.

Oh, the devastation hit me instantly. I might need to spend my whole life to prove that the commander was wrong.

I cannot trust my heart any more. What is loyalty for? What is self-discipline for?

Alas, every human life is destined to meet death. One must utilise one’s life fully until one dies. That is the Yamato spirit (the Japanese spirit)! Everybody fears death. However, how can we use our death to maximum effect?

“The Yamato spirit!” The words the commander used got rid of any confusion in my mind. Yet, I wonder why I feel that I do not possess enough sense of aspiration. I am always conscious of the need for aspiration day and night. I wonder if this has overshadowed the sense of selfless devotion that I should have. I am in the Army now. I should never at any moment forget about the spirit of devotion, but my attention was misplaced. I have to remind myself again.

My commander told me to discard my sense of self. His words sounded old-fashioned, but this should be the main focus. The main focus is supposed to remain the main focus.

A person can show different attitudes to different people. I do not believe I belong to that category. As a member of the military I am proud that I am sincere with myself. The words the commander spoke unintentionally made me more eager to prove myself. I should accept the present. I believe that is the way we should live. (pp.63a-65b)



Printed on 12/16/2018 01:33:45 PM