Witnesses commemorate Fall of Saigon anniversary

North Vietnam overcame its lack of sophisticated weaponry and used its soldiers’ wits to defeat the United States, backed by its state-of-the-art military, lawmaker Hideo Den said Friday.

Den, an Upper House member of the Social Democratic Party of Japan, was recounting his time as a reporter covering the Vietnam War for Tokyo Broadcasting System to mark Sunday’s 25th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.

Once, he said, the U.S. media were reporting that U.S. forces had destroyed a missile site located in the outskirts of Hanoi. “But the ‘missiles’ were really (decoys) of bamboo and paper,” Den told a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

Den added that he was dispatched to Hanoi in the early 1960s to cover stories from the North Vietnamese side as 85 percent of news reports broadcast in Japan were provided by the U.S. media, such as the Associated Press and United Press International.

Another panelist, Ko Yamaguchi, of Kyodo News, said the North Vietnamese government began censoring news reports after the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.

“I had to write in French first so the North Vietnam government could read it,” he said. “I sometimes wrote Japanese in roman letters, hoping that my editors in Tokyo would notice.”

The Vietnam War began in the late 1950s, when the nation stepped up its struggle for independence from the colonial rule of France.

But the fighting escalated when the U.S. became involved and established a pro-U.S. government in South Vietnam.