井の中の蛙

12/15/2005

Hikokumin in Fukuoka

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 4:55 am

Asahi and Yomiuri newspapers both have reports on an October incident in a Fukuoka junior high school in which a teacher passed out copies of wartime “Red cards,” which called men up for the military draft, to students. Students had to mark the paper to indicate whether they would go or not go.

The teacher returned the card, and apparently left comments on those cards belonging to the nay-sayers to the effect that those students were 非国民 or that “Those who refuse on personal grounds are 非国民.” The word, hikokumin, is sometimes translated as “unpatriotic individual” but in fact was a much stronger term which implied that the person was a traitor. The 広辞苑 dictionary defines it as, “Someone who has not performed their duties as a citizen. A person who does actions which betrays the nation.”

It is a bit unclear what the point of the exercise was. Asahi says simply that the school was aiming to teach something about human rights (学校によると、教諭は人権学習に熱心という), while Yomiuri reports the school as saying that they simply wanted to point out that people would be called that at the time and was not intended as an insult to the students. (教諭は、戦争に行かなかったら、『非国民』と呼ばれた当時の状況を説明して令状を配った。生徒の人格を否定するつもりはなかったようだ)
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