I wonder what’s going through the minds of the folks at the Yokohama Board of Education. According to a recent story in the Japan Times the city’s Board of Ed has recalled a junior high school textbook due to its “descriptions of the mass lynching of Koreans following the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.”
the aftermath of that massive temblor, fear mixed with old hatreds to create a
tornado of violence that swept up Yokohama’s small ethnic Korean community in a
path of death and destruction. In his book, Yokohama
Burning, Joshua Hammer writes that army commanders “whipped up rumors about Korean well
poisonings.” The lies added more fuel to the fire as vigilantes roamed the
streets, hunting for human prey.
Here in Yokohama's Temple Valley people still
recount how a few hundred people fleeing for their lives sought sanctuary in
the local police precinct station under the command of one Tsunekichi Okawa. The
story goes that not long after this desperate group of innocent men, women and
children were safely nestled within the confines of the precinct premises,
state-sanctioned killers showed up looking for their pound of flesh.
then that Okawa, a man of quite ordinary stature emerged from within. Staring
the prospect of his own death straight in the eye, he is said to have looked
the rabble up and down and told them "if you want to kill them, you'll
have to take my life too, but first go and fetch me a jug of that poisoned well
water you're crying about." Then jug in hand, Okawa downed the entire
contents of the vessel proving beyond a doubt what he already knew. The poison
was all in their minds, where it still seems to be today.
(Portions of this story came from a previous post.)