Tomoyuki Hoshino's Blog

Tomoyuki Hoshino on the death of Kenji Nagai

Shiori Yamazaki translated Hoshino’s September 29, 2007 online journal entry, which you can see here, for a class I taught a while back.  You can see the original post for that class blog here. Shiori was my teaching assistant and an MA student in Japanese literature at the University of Iowa.  She has been involved in bringing atomic bomb survivors and their testimonies to communities in Eastern Iowa, and she did an exclusive radio interview with Noriaki Imai, a Japanese student who was held hostage in Iraq.  You can access that radio program by clicking here.  Shiori has translated writings by Hoshino, the anarchist activist and punk singer Naoki Shiga, and others into English.  She is currently pursuing an MSW at the University of Iowa’s School of Social Work.

Mr. Kenji Nagai [pictured here], who was a freelance journalist, was killed by security troops in Myanmar. Why hasn’t Prime Minister Fukuda said something like “it’s annoying when someone goes to such an area without permission”? As far as I’ve seen in the media, there have been no words such as “it’s their fault (Jikosekinin = personal responsibility)” or “He deserved to die”, although I don’t know what’s been said on the internet.

I wonder what could possibly be different between this and the hostage incident in Iraq three years ago. Does this mean that being killed is harrowing and heroic, like Mr. Hashida, who was also a freelance journalist and was killed in Iraq, but being alive and a hostage makes one annoying?

I thought about the difference between this incident and the one three years ago.

The government of Myanmar wants to control the information inside Myanmar. They want to justify their armed oppression by making this demonstration look small, both inside the nation and internationally. This is why they’ve been trying to shut out all of the media.

The one who wanted to shut out the media in Iraq was the American government and military. That’s because they feared they couldn’t justify their attacks if the media was there to record the times they launched inhumane assaults. During a situation like that, the hostage incident occurred and then Chief Cabinet Secretary Fukuda (now Prime Minister) said something meaning “nuisance” at the very beginning, as if he spoke for America’s sense of irritation. He led the public opinion in every possible way towards the “personal responsibility theory” by leaking fake information which says “there exists a suspicion this is just a performance” with the former Prime Minister, Koizumi’s Secretary Iijima.

That is to say, if the side they want to control is their enemy or not, who steps forward differs. It needn’t be said that journalists and volunteers who support humanity exist independently and separate from the intentions of those authorities. The authorities are not supposed to be able to exclude those individuals if the state is truly democratic, and not despotic.

We can’t be allowed to use Mr. Nagai’s death as a tool for our own catharsis. 

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