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Tetsuro Ahiko: The last Japanese man remaining in Kazakhstan: A Kafkian tale of the plight of a Japanese POW in the Soviet Union

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By Richard Orange and Ikuru Kuwajima, photos by Ikuru Kuwajima

[link to article]

“Tetsuro Ahiko has his eyes closed now.  The vodka has begun to affect him, and he rocks a little towards the battered cassette player from where the music―a shrill chorus of young girls’ voices―is coming. He starts to sing along under his breath: ‘Shoulder to shoulder, I walk to school with my brother, thanks to the soldiers… thanks to the soldiers that died for the nation, for the dear nation.’ As the last voices die away, the room, in a cramped Soviet flat in a crumbling block in a impoverised town in the middle of the icy, windswept steppes of Kazakhstan, comes back into focus. ‘I forgot Japanese,’ he says. ‘But I didn’t forget the songs that I listened to in my childhood.’

This cassette of World War II military songs, long since forgotten as part of a shameful past back in Japan, is one of the handful of tokens he keeps of a life that was snatched away from him one day in 1948, when, instead of repatriating him from his military school on Sakhalin Island, Soviet troops put Mr Ahiko on a train to the Gulag work camps. More than 60 years later, Mr Ahiko is still here.”


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Written by regularperson

February 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Posted in Men

Tagged with , , , ,

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