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What Japan is fighting for

What Japan is fighting for

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calmness and confidence and to greet the initial victories with so little hysterical jubilation.

To be sure there have been, as was, to be expected, a certain unavoidable amount of braggadocio, of petty baiting of the enemy, and of pompous laudation of our own virtues. But these evidences of national vanity which invariably accompany any war have been comparatively few.Instead, there has been a reassuring soberness which reflects the strength of the nation's will to attain its ideals at any cost. The seriousness of the national attitude is also evidence enough that Japan has not launched forth into the war for any irresponsible purpose. To be sure, there is a selfish aspect to our motives; we do want security and prosperity for ourselves. But there is also a greater idealistic aspect to our motives; we realize that our own security and prosperity cannot be assured unless our neighboring kindred peoples are also enabled to attain security and prosperity through the ejection of their alien exploiters. We are glad therefore to be the instrument for bringing this security and prosperity to all East Asia. The seriousness of our national attitude is evidence that we realize our responsibility in this regard toward our neighboring countries. 
Our national hope must be to remain sober and modest and confident and determined so as to continue to be worthy of the national destiny which will be unfolded in the days to come.

(December 31, 1941)

'Clouds Over Mountains'

It is a courtly custom of ancient tradition that for each New Year's time His Majesty the Emperor offers a theme for poetic composition to the general populace, who are free to submit their own lines for honorable recognition. This custom is significant at least two reasons. First, it indicates the importance that has always been attached to cultural activity under Imperial auspices. Second, it affords an opportunity to convey to the Throne popular thoughts and sentiments expressed through the medium of rhythmic thirty-one letters. The custom no doubt originated from that solicitude with which the Emperors have ruled this nation, the attitude and sentiment which has been nowhere better expressed than in one of the poems of the Great Emperor Meiji. This poem runs to the effect that should a single soul within the realm fail to have a proper place in society, it would be the fault of the ruling scepter itself.
The theme chosen for this New Year's day is "Clouds Over Mountains." While we make no pretense to be well conversant with the genius of Japanese poetry, the subject, on which national talents are to enter the poetic contest, seems singularly happy. At least it seems to augur well for the year which has just dawned under wartime conditions such as have never been known in the history of this nation. 
Clouds over mountains at once suggest to Japanese minds an atmosphere such as had prevailed throughout the country up to the outbreak of the present war, an atmosphere at times almost elusive but nonetheless oppressive, tangibly oppressive, in its effect on general minds. In those days the Japanese nation stood at the cross-roads of destiny, but it hardly knew.


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