Sanpete County Remembers the Beginning of WWII

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newspaper telling of the start of the American-Japanese war, December 7th. Photo courtesy

newspaper telling of the start of the American-Japanese war, December 7th. Photo courtesy

Seventy-one years and one day ago, the whole world changed forever.


Wednesday, Dec. 7, marked the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by Japanese forces. The day was forever known as “a date which will live in infamy,” as said by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and marked the beginning of American involvement in WWII.

During the war, Americans were regularly propagandized by the government to buy into the idea of Japan being the “bad guy.” That villainizing perspective often stays in the minds of Americans today, reaffirming the well-known adage, “History is written by the victors”, but there are always two sides to any story.

Here at Snow, a large portion of international students come from Japan and are willing to open up about the history of their nation and what they were taught.

Snow student Chiharu Kojima came from Tokyo, Japan to study in Ephraim. She learned about her nation’s history in secondary school but took American History at Snow College during a summer semester. “I have learned about Pearl Harbor in Japan and America,” Kojima says, “and much of what I learned is the same. Japan, at the time, was so mean. It was very bad.”

Kojima remembers very well the perspective that was taught to her by her high school teacher, Tusyochi Mitsumura. Simply put, Mitsumura explains, “The Japan of World War 2 is not the Japan we know today.”

“It is not well-written in Japanese textbooks,” Mitsumura says. “I believe it is evil by itself, just like the bombings were.”

Since the events of the war, many drastic cultural, economic, and political changes have taken place in Japan. Japan changed its warlike ways to become a nation focused on peaceful political relations with neighbors like North Korea and China.

Despite losing the war, Japan now is the center of the technological world, and has a booming economy because of it, 22nd best in the world.

“I think they learned from the war,” International Admissions Advisor Wissem Abid says. Abid has been in Japan numerous times and worked with countless Japanese students at Snow. “Those who lived in that wartime learned, and they taught their next generations to be peaceful and respectful and to make friends.”

As of today, the United States and Japan have a prosperous international relationship. “An important thing is that it doesn’t make sense that we bring up history matters and try to discuss good or evil,” Kojima says. “What we should do is connect them to an effort to never make the same mistakes.”

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