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Religions 2018, 9(6), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060185

The Case of Hirose Akira: The Ethical Predicament of a Japanese Buddhist Youth during World War II

Department of Religion and Philosophy, Wartburg College, Waverly, IA 50677, USA
Received: 24 April 2018 / Revised: 5 June 2018 / Accepted: 6 June 2018 / Published: 10 June 2018
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Abstract

The Japanese Buddhist clergy’s collaboration with the Japanese war machine during the Fifteen Year War (1931–1945) is notorious. Yet the struggles of ordinary lay Buddhist youths during World War II remain less publicized. This article examines the case of a young Shinshū Buddhist soldier, Hirose Akira, 廣瀬明 (1919–1947), and scrutinizes the diary he kept between 1939 and 1946. Mobilized between February 1942 and January 1945, Hirose became increasingly disillusioned, especially when he witnessed injustices and the officers’ thoughtlessness in ordering junior soldiers to make sacrifices while enjoying their privileges. His diary reveals an early skepticism toward the Japanese embrace of expansionism and the hypocrisy of its justifications for the war of aggression waged against China and Asia as a whole. Independently from the battle’s fate, by 1944 Hirose considered that Japan was already defeated because of what he saw as “her own people’s ego and selfishness.” View Full-Text
Keywords: World War II; wartime Japan; warfare; soldiers; violence; Hirose Akira; Shinshū; Pure Land Buddhism; selfishness World War II; wartime Japan; warfare; soldiers; violence; Hirose Akira; Shinshū; Pure Land Buddhism; selfishness
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Terasawa, K. The Case of Hirose Akira: The Ethical Predicament of a Japanese Buddhist Youth during World War II. Religions 2018, 9, 185.

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