Australia-Japan Research Project -

オーストラリア戦争記念館の豪日研究プロジェクト
カウラと日本の対話
ビル・クルーズ氏 (AWM S03337)
聞き手: テリー・コフーン
インタビュー場所: キャンベラ
インタビュー時期: 2004年8月31日


日本大使と日豪の元捕虜の方々とともに花輪を戦没者墓地に捧げたが、花輪を捧げる時はいつも悲しみがこみ上げてくる。戦争の悲惨、特に若い命が散ったことに心が痛む。戦没者たちは国のために戦い、それ以外にはほとんど選択の余地がなかったのである。また、最近私が日本を訪れた時に聞いた「死んでからは敵も味方もない。」という言葉に思いが至る。我々は戦争で亡くなった全ての国の兵士に敬意を表さなければならない。自らの意思ではなく、彼らの国が彼らを戦場に駆り立て不幸にも命を落としたのだから。

日豪の和解は進んでいる。戦争の記憶が強く残る頃は和解の進度も遅く、また白豪主義の下に日本人に対する感情が悪化した時もあった。しかし、各世代によって諸外国、特に日本との関係は変化するもので、日本とは強い経済的関係があるのみならず、国際的、政治的協力があり、教育における交流も盛んである。新しい世代は、過去の出来事を知りつつ、未来に目を向けている。日本でも、大衆が第二次世界大戦で起こったことを認識し、日本の非を認めており、これが和解に大きく貢献している。オーストラリアの退役軍人の中にも過去の軋轢を克服し、昔の敵、特にカウラの元捕虜と友情を築いている者もいる。

親族を亡くした家族の心情には配慮し、苦しみに同情するが、若い世代にとっては過去の出来事に止めておかなければならない。我々は過去を忘れはしないが、過ちは許す。我々は若い世代が未来に向かって進み、協力していくことを見守らなければならない。

太平洋戦争で日本軍と戦ってきたばかりなのに、退役軍人会カウラ支部の会員は日本人戦没者墓地の手入れをした。オーストラリア兵は敵の戦死者を丁重に取り扱うことで定評がある。第一次大戦のガリポリ、第二次大戦、そしてベトナムにおいてもそうであった。我々は、敵であっても国のために戦死した人々を尊敬する。シドニー湾を攻撃した小型特殊潜航艇の乗員のためにオーストラリア海軍は丁重な海軍葬を執り行った。日本人は、今もこの海軍葬をオーストラリアの象徴的意思表示と考えている。従って、退役軍人会カウラ支部による日本人戦没者墓地の手入れも、退役軍人会全体として肯定的に捉えているし、仮に当時評価されなかったとしても、歴史に彼らの行為が勇敢で適切なものであったと記されることを私は信じる。

インタビュー原文(英語)

TERRY COLHOUN: As the national president of the Returned and Services League (RSL), you laid wreaths on the graves of Australian and Japanese Second World War servicemen in company with the Ambassador of Japan and ex-prisoners of war of both countries. I wonder, what were your thoughts at that time?
WILLIAM CREWS: Whenever I lay a wreath, I always reflect on the sadness that war causes, and particularly the loss of young lives, people who had so much more to give. Each serviceman for whom one lays a wreath was doing their duty for their country at the time. We must always reflect on the fact that they probably didn’t have much choice in the circumstance in which they found themselves. And I reflect, also, more recently on the remark made when I visited Japan, that in death there are really no enemies, so we pay our respects to the dead of all forces during war, reflecting on the fact that these young people were not there of their own accord – they were there because their nation, their government, sent them to be there, and sadly they lost their lives in the course of that duty.
COLHOUN: The RSL is Australia’s largest war veterans organization, as we know, and it’s maintained a pretty conservative attitude with reconciliation with Japan since that war ended. What made it possible for you as the national president to lay wreaths in a Japanese War Cemetery in Australia?
CREWS: I am pleased to be able to say that a long path of reconciliation is well progressed. It was slow initially because the memories of experiences in the immediate post war period were very strong and they dominated the League at that time. Japan had been an adversary like no other in terms of the degree of brutality experienced by our servicemen. I would suggest at the time too, that feelings towards the Japanese were aggravated by the prevailing White Australia Policy within the country at large. This has all been, I am pleased to say, broken down as each generation experiences a different relationship with other countries, and the Japanese in particular. We have expanded our cultural links – we have a very strong economic relationship. We work together in the international arena, politically and internationally, and we have got very strong educational exchanges. So the new generations of Australians and Japanese, while they are aware of what happened in the past, are not going to let that get in the way of looking forward to their futures. We have also seen in Japan a larger public degree of recognition and acknowledgement of what happened during the Second World War, and an acceptance that that should not have happened. This has helped enormously in the healing process and even some former Australian servicemen of the Second World War, and particularly, prisoners of war, have resolved their differences and are now forming friendships with their former Japanese adversaries. Importantly now, we are anxious to move forward. I reflect on the exhibition I was privileged to open in Cowra, “Breaking Out and Moving On”. It is a very apt expression for what we are trying to do now with our relationship with Japan.
COLHOUN: And no doubt you would continue to recognise the need for compassion for bereaved families, and so on, who still suffer.
CREWS: Certainly. We cannot forget that there are people who will take their memories to their graves. We must respect their concern and their experiences, show sympathy for the conditions they have experienced and conditions many of them still experience, but keep that now in perspective in terms of the relationship of the younger generations. So, yes, we do not forget. We endeavour to forgive and we make sure that our young people, with that understanding, resolve to go forward, looking to work together rather than apart.
COLHOUN: Now, of course the occasion for which you were recently in Cowra was the 60th anniversary of the prisoner-of-war breakout, which we have looked at in rather a special way, but as a former senior Australian soldier with an excellent service record, you would agree, I think, that it is the responsibility of every captured serviceman to try to escape from his capturers?
CREWS: I don’t recall it being taught to me as a rule of war. However, we are much more valuable to our nation involved in the conflict than as prisoners, so for that reason all prisoners, certainly Australian prisoners, would see it as their duty to escape if that is at all humanly possible. We must look, however, at the particular circumstances of the Japanese prisoners at Cowra. For them, imprisonment was humility – I beg your pardon – it was humiliating. It was a circumstance where they had lost their honour, and to regain their honour, they wanted to escape, if only to die in the process. That’s not an attitude we would necessarily take in the same circumstances because we have different cultural backgrounds. But, we would all want to escape for different reasons.
COLHOUN: There were mass escapes during the Second World War from German prisoner-of-war camps and they have been romanticised somewhat. They have been made into films and a lot of people consider them as pretty heroic efforts, and yet we don’t really look at the Cowra breakout in the same way. What’s different about it?
CREWS: I would expect it’s because the breakouts from the German prisoner-of-war camps were by Allies: the breakout from Cowra was by our adversary. The difference is which side of the imprisonment you were on. To the Japanese, I would suspect, the Cowra breakout would be seen as equally heroic and we would have been expected to understand the feelings of the Germans when the prisoners broke out of the German prisoner-of-war camps. So I think it depends on whether you are a prisoner, or a guard.
COLHOUN: As we know, the members of the Cowra Sub-branch of the RSL, men who had recently returned from fighting Japanese military personnel in the Pacific, decided to tend the graves of Japanese men who died in the breakout. How does the RSL judge them for doing that?
CREWS: I would like to think that the RSL has always judged such people favourably. I know that, that perhaps was not the case in the immediate post-war period when there was so much antipathy towards the Japanese. But Australian servicemen have had, perhaps almost uniquely in the world, an attitude and reputation for treating the dead of their adversary with respect. It happened at Gallipoli, it certainly happened throughout most of the Second World War, and it continued to happen it Vietnam. We respect those who have died in the service of their country, even if we were fighting against them, because we understand the circumstances that they were in. The Royal Australian Navy accorded a naval funeral to the Japanese midget submariners who invaded Sydney Harbour during the Second World War. That was an extraordinary recognition by an adversary. I know that the Japanese still reflect back on that full naval funeral as a very symbolic gesture by Australia at the time, under very difficult circumstances. So, I would think that the RSL, reflecting the culture of the Australian services over the decades, would look very positively at the work done by the Cowra Sub-branch of the League in tending those graves immediately following the Second World War, and if it didn’t get recognition at the time, I believe history would record that recognition as a courageous move on their part and an appropriate one.

Transcribed by WRITEpeople, November 2004
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Printed on 09/27/2021 03:01:19 PM