What do shame, honor and disgrace mean in Japan on the example of the 442nd Regiment of the US Army

How the courage and courage of the Japanese from the 442nd Infantry Regiment of the US Army became a legend

LThe legendary 442nd Infantry Regiment is the largest military unit of the US Army, which almost entirely consisted of the Japanese. It was he who fought the Nazis in Italy and France during World War II. Of the 14,000 servicemen of the regiment, more than 9,000 were awarded the Purple Heart. The 442nd Regiment became the most titled military unit of the US Armed Forces in World War II.

To understand where the fearlessness and valor of the Japanese 442nd Regiment came from, we need to plunge into history a little. Japan.

Many people know about "Bushido", which means "the way of the warrior" - the code of the samurai. In a simplified version, "Bushido" is courage, self-control, loyalty, generosity, humility and patience.

Only the warrior who followed the principles laid down in Bushido retained honor and dignity. And the preservation of honor and dignity, as well as the protection of one's shogun, is the duty of a samurai. The samurai, who lost his honor, was covered with shame and disgrace, and in this case, there was only one way out for him - hara-kiri. Only this could restore honor to the warrior and remove shame from him.

In Japan, interpersonal relationships are primarily influenced by duty and obligation. In such relationships, which are based on duty, the opinions and feelings of other people come first. What the person himself believes goes into the background. Shame and disgrace arise from the negative attitude of others or from the awareness of an unfulfilled duty.

In the culture of Japan, shame cannot be eliminated until a person does what society expects of him, including the most drastic measures. A simple example. If you proved your innocence in court on a false charge, then the shame will still remain until people believe that you are innocent.

But back to World War II. And so, the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 brought shame to many Japanese Americans. It has also led to an explosion of racism and outright discrimination against Japanese who have American citizenship. The desire to avoid shame and disgrace, while maintaining honor, became the driving force that led the Japanese Americans.

Then more than 100 thousand Japanese were placed in special camps in the United States. And most of them were US citizens. Only at the beginning of 1943, the Japanese began to be again accepted into the ranks of the US Army. Well, the young Japanese just rushed to the front.

Their historical homeland dared to question their patriotism and their honor. Their desire was to get rid of shame, to prove that they are US citizens and thereby bring honor to their community in the states.

When young "samurai" went to war, many mothers and fathers told them:

"Live if you can, die if you must, but always fight with honor and never, ever dishonor your family or your country." [ist. C. B. June 26, 2000 "Remarks on the Congressional Medal of Honor Award to Asian American Heroes of World War II." link]

As a result, the 442nd Infantry Regiment showed itself exclusively on the positive side. His soldiers even created a "custom" of reverse AWOL. Being wounded, despite the prescriptions of doctors, they left hospital beds and returned to battle.

The soldiers of the regiment became participants in seven major military operations. They fought in Italy and France, and in just 5 days of continuous fighting in the south of France, the losses amounted to more than 800 people. They did their duty and did not allow shame. 21 servicemen were awarded the highest military award - the Medal of Honor, and the regiment itself began to be called the "Purple Heart Battalion".

Japan today is a different country. But obligations to family, work, friends are still the defining principles of life for the vast majority of Japanese people. The Land of the Rising Sun is still a country of honor, duty and shame.

Владимир Дубровский

Author and editor on the website "TRAVEL GUIDE" Lawyer by basic education. Likes to travel. An expert in the topic of tourism on the Yandex Q service. Favorite destinations are Asia and South America. Of the countries he prefers Thailand and the Dominican Republic. Editor of several online publications about travel and tourism...

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