The novel based on actual events “A Night of a Thousand Suicides” by Teruhiko Asada, took place in an Australian prisoner of war camp, during World War II. The story involves captured Japanese soldiers planning an escape from an Australian POW camp. The soldiers knowing that a successful escape was most unlikely were faced with the reality of certain death. The battle came not only from their captors but mostly from within themselves. The struggle within came from their loyalty to their country, obedience to their leaders, and their own desire to die with honor.
The views a Japanese solider and an American have on the value of human life greatly differs. While discussing escape plans with the other section leaders, Cpl. Hotei, says, “”There is not a single coward of that kind in my section. We”re all ready to die defying any such order. That”s the fighting spirit of Japan”” Asada 17. This quote defines the spirit of the extremist views of a Japanese soldier. To be captured meant dishonor for them as well as their families. This extremist view is also displayed in the Samurai”s motto: “”The way of the Samurai was the way of death”” Asada 17.Order now
The soldiers in the Australian camp were not mistreated. On the contrary, they were well cared for. Despite their treatment by the Australians, a Japanese soldier would follow his leader”s orders regardless of the final outcome. The idea that being captured meant dishonor to a soldier and his family was enough to drive him to die needlessly. The escape attempt took the lives of 234 Japanese soldiers. Some committed suicide prior to the escape taking place. Those who committed suicide before the escape were the invalids that were unable to attempt escaping with the others.
As the escape progressed, it was apparent the Australian soldiers did not want to kill the attempting escapees, but rather they fired over their heads in an attempt to stop the revolt. This did not succeed, but instead only enticed the Japanese to continue their revolt. As a result, the Australians were forced to kill the escaping prisoners. The actions of the Australians were that of people who valued human life. They did what was in their power to give the Japanese an opportunity to stop and save their own lives. With the Samurai warrior mindset, this was not an option.
To stop the revolt would mean dishonor. The thought of being dishonored was greater than the fear of death. The soldiers must continue. How does this differ from the way an American feels towards being captured? To fully understand why the captured soldiers felt that their intentions were honorable is intriguing. If the soldiers were being mistreated or abused in the camp one could better understand the resistance, but this was not the case. They had convinced themselves and each other that to be moved would be a disgrace to their country and each other.
If the soldiers thought it disgraceful to be moved, why did they not think it disgraceful to be captured? Being captured and take prisoner does not define dishonor. What price is placed on human life? In countries around the world, human life is held in the highest value. It is apparent the Australians felt this way, therefore, they did not immediately shoot to kill the Japanese soldiers, but rather gave them warning shots. The Japanese, on the other hand, felt that death in this manner was be coming of a Japanese solider. In summary, loyalty, honor, and obedience are the main focal points.
The Japanese soldiers held honor in the highest regard. They were loyal to their country and obedient to their leaders. The honor that they portrayed in battle would not only honor them but their family as well. Could a lesson be learned from the Japanese soldiers? Yes! We all need to be loyal to our country, defend our beliefs, and be obedient to our leaders. Yet, we must also have our own clear minds and ask ourselves, will the tasks at hand show our loyalty, honor, and obedience? If the answer is no, then the solution may need to be reconsidered.