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My Father's Dying Wish

Legacies of War Guilt in a Japanese Family

By Ayako Kurahashi

Translated into English by Philip Seaton
With a Foreword by Masaaki Noda

What do you tell the victims of your own aggression and your children when you have participated in your nation’s war atrocities?

Yūkichi Ōsawa silently pondered the issue for four decades after returning from service as a Kempei (military policeman) in Manchuria, concealing his thoughts even from his immediate family. His written request to his daughter Ayako Kurahashi to carve on his tombstone his apology to the Chinese people touched off a firestorm within the family. It transformed the life of Ayako and other family members as she fought not only to inscribe his will but also to carry his message of apology to the villagers of Manchuria where he had served.

The issues, brought to life so poignantly in My Father's Dying Wish, are not just ones for Japanese (or Germans) to struggle with. Directly or indirectly, this book raises questions for citizens of all nations that have fought (and continue to fight) wars abroad, above all Americans.

Professor Mark Selden,
Senior Research Associate, Cornell University,
and coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.

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What others say about 'My Father's Dying Wish'

A fascinating and thought-provoking account of the continued impact of Japan's invasion of China during World War II. It offers a rare insight into the attempts of one former Japanese soldier and his family to come to terms with, and atone for, the events of the war. It is beautifully translated, and deserves to be read widely.

Dr. Caroline Rose,
Senior Lecturer, University of Leeds,
and author of Sino-Japanese Relations (Routledge 2005).

In the last decade Ayako Kurahashi has travelled around China to uncover her father's role there during the war as a military policeman in the Japanese army. She describes with great sensitivity what she found. Her journey attests to the terrifying realities of Japan and China's recent past. This book is an exemplary demonstration of the way in which personal accounts can shed light upon broader historical processes.

Professor Takao Matsumura,
Emeritus Professor, Keio University,
and author of Historiography and the Judiciary: Germ Warfare Unit 731 in the Courts
(in Japanese, Gendai Shokan 2007).

Ayako Kurahashi is a former schoolteacher and freelance writer. As well as the auto-biographical My Father’s Dying Wish, she has written numerous works of fiction that consider the nature of Japanese war responsibility. She lives in Saitama, just north of Tokyo.

Philip Seaton is an Associate Professor in the Research Faculty of Media and Communication, Hokkaido University, Japan. He is the author of Japan’s Contested War Memories (Routledge 2007).

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Also published by Paulownia Press:
Field of Spears: The Last Mission of the Jordan Crew
By Gregory Hadley

Crosses and Tigers and The Double Edged Dagger: The Cowra Incident of 1944
By Nagase Takashi, Second Edition edited by Gill Goddard

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