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  1. One of the joys of translated literature is its ability to give you insight into other cultures and, on occasion, to approach well known events from another viewpoint. To observe from the other side of the fence through the eyes of someone who truly understands and experienced the events, rather than a pieced together alternate view from a journalist or historian. One of the best examples of this I have encountered for some time is “One Man’s Justice” by Akira Yoshimura. “One Man’s Justice” is the story of Takuya, a young junior officer in the Japanese Army towards the end of the Second World War, who, in almost his last act in uniform, takes part in the execution, by sword, of a group of captured American airmen. Branded, post occupation, as a wanted war criminal, Takuya changes identity and goes on the run; taking us with him on a voyage through post war Japan. Given the subject matter, and actions carried out by Takuya, it would be easy to assume from the outset what your feelings will be reading this book, and where your sympathies will lie. Yoshimura however, is a gifted writer, and whilst this book may be printed in black and white, the story it tells is anything but. Yoshimura places Takuya’s story into context, and without overly taking one side or another, allows the reader to make his own judgements about ‘One Man’s Justice’. In doing so, you are faced with some questions that are more complicated than at first glance. Who judges what is or isn’t a war crime? Is Yoshimura acting out of duty or desire? Are his actions any more or less of a crime than the bombing of civilians carried out by the airmen? As the story progresses, attitudes to what happened changes in Japan, and amongst the Americans, in a way mirroring the way the readers’ opinions may alter. Has time mellowed? Have our viewpoints altered? Or are principles being compromised and history being re-written in the mind too ease our conscience?
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