“I Love You, Japan!”

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Cizre, Turkey on June 29, 2016. (Photo by Kuni Takahashi)

Back in Istanbul after spending several days in towns near Syrian border on assignment. Throughout this trip, I was reminded how much respect people still have toward Japanese. People were quite happy and excited to find out that I’m from Japan and I even got “I love you, Japan!” remark at a police check point. Not only in Turkey but also people in Middle East and Africa generally have positive attitude toward Japanese as “hard-working, smart and honest”. For the good reputation, we owe companies like Toyota or Sony, which have been producing high-quality products. But most importantly, it’s because Japan never have sent military troops to the other countries for any offensive missions since WWII ended. I’m afraid that things are moving wrong direction under Mr.Abe’s right-wing resume. If our Constitution is amended and Self Defense Force becomes regular military and Japanese soldiers are sent outside with guns to kill, the trust we have gained in the world over the past 50 years will be crushed quickly. I really hope not to see the day comes that I’m told on the road – “Japanese, Go Home!”

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トルコ東部シリア国境そばでの撮影を終えて、イスタンブールに戻ってきた。今度の道中でもあらためて感じさせられたのが、人々の日本人に対する好意の念だ。どこの町に行っても、僕らが日本人とわかるとやたら喜ばれる。警察のチェックポイントでさえ、パスポートを見せると、「アイ・ラブ・ユー、ジャパン!」だ。トルコに限らず、中東やアフリカでも多くの人々が今も日本人に対して「勤勉、優秀で正直」という敬意を抱いている。これも皆、車や電化製品を筆頭に、世界に誇れるものづくりをしてきたメーカーの人々に負うところは大きいが、最も重要なのは、戦後日本が軍事的にどこにも侵攻せず、他国の人々に銃を向けることなく立ち回ってきたことだろう。安倍政権のもと、憲法が改悪され、自衛隊が国軍に変わり、米国の下請けとなって日本兵が他国で作戦に従事するようになれば、これまで50年以上かけて築き上げてきた日本人への好意や信頼など、あっという間にけし飛ぶだろう。「日本人でていけ!」いく先々で、こう言われる日が来ないことを願う。

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