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Hitler assumes presidency, repatriation to North Korea and a young Kazuo Ishiguro interviewed

by Edan Corkill

75 YEARS AGO

Friday, Aug. 3, 1934

Japan mourns Hindenburg; Hitler takes presidency

The death of President Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, widely known to the Japanese nation as the greatest figure of the World War, is deeply lamented in this country. All newspapers this morning paid glowing tribute to his memory editorially.

Mr. Mamoru Shigemitsu, vice- Minister of Foreign Affairs, declared Thursday night that Hindenburg’s death would be a great loss to Germany at this time when she is confronted with many difficulties, but that he did not think it would have serious effects on the European political situation.

“During the World War, Berlin citizens staged demonstrations by carrying wooden images modeled after the Field Marshal for the purpose of raising money for the war fund,” Mr. Shigemitsu recalled. “This shows what popularity he had enjoyed.

“I don’t think that his passing will seriously affect the political situation on the European continent. Chancellor Adolf Hitler was on very friendly terms with the deceased President, but now he has assumed the presidency in addition to his post of Chancellor, the chances of the former Kaiser (Emperor) returning to Germany as ruler are considered almost hopeless.

“I believe Herr Hitler will pay more careful consideration in dealing with German diplomatic affairs, but it is undeniable that with his assumption of the presidency, Germany will be inclined further to the Right.”

50 YEARS AGO

Friday, Aug. 14, 1959

Attitude of South Korea

The Japan-Republic of Korea talks for normalization of relations are being resumed and a preliminary meeting was held in Tokyo on Wednesday. The negotiations had been suspended for eight months, having been broken off by the Koreans in protest against Japan’s decision to repatriate Korean residents to the Communist-controlled area of North Korea if they so wished.

The resumption of talks is the consequence of an offer from Seoul to proceed with the negotiations unconditionally, made, it is believed, with the encouragement of the United States, but it is obvious that the repatriation issue still rankles with the ROK side.

The repatriation scheme itself takes a step forward with the announcement on Tuesday that the International Red Cross Committee had decided to help the Japanese Red Cross in carrying out the repatriation of Koreans from Japan to Korea — whether to Communist North Korea or to South Korea.

The planned repatriations should now be pushed forward without delay. We hope, too, that the Seoul Government will come to realize that Japan is striving to do her best for the future welfare of all the Koreans who are stranded in this country.

Unfortunately, at Wednesday’s preliminary talks, the ROK delegates adopted a rather uncompromising stand. We are in accord with them in saying that the ROK government is the only lawful government in Korea, and that Japan owes allegiance to Free World causes and principles, but we cannot agree that this country has done anything to encourage the Communists against the Seoul Government. The dispatch of some repatriates to North Korea of their own desire could not amount to that, nor is it intended to be a recognition of the Pyongyang authorities. Likewise, we cannot agree that such repatriations should prevent successful negotiations on other issues.

25 YEARS AGO

Saturday, Aug. 11, 1984

Personality profile: Kazuo Ishiguro

A little over two decades ago, a man named Ishiguro left his native Nagasaki and brought his family here to England. An oceanographer, Ishiguro was working on a project that the British government was financing. “My father is still working at the Oceanographic Center here,” his son, Kazuo, said.

Kazuo was a child of 6 when the family came to England. Two years ago he created a stir when his first novel, “A Pale View of Hills,” was published in London by Faber and Faber. Critics remark on the strangeness of his writing a novel in English that has the delicacy, suggestion and mistiness of quality commonly associated with earlier Japanese writers who lived in Japan.

In young manhood now, he has the keen mind that intelligent education is supposed to develop. After graduating from Kent University, he spent a year doing social work at a homeless persons’ hostel.

Ishiguro then enrolled in an M.A. course in Creative Writing. He thought, “Oh, dear, all those people in this course are going to be very good. I’d better learn to write stories. So I went to a farmhouse in Cornwall for two weeks and wrote furiously.”

At the University of East Anglia, under the direction of acclaimed author and critic Malcolm Bradbury, Ishiguro worked at story-writing. “I’d read a number of translations from the Japanese, quite a lot of [Yasunari] Kawabata and [Junichiro] Tanizaki. I consciously chose Japanese settings,” he said.

Kazuo Ishiguro has only hazy, childhood memories of the Japan where he was born. He has not been back and he doesn’t remember not speaking English.

Ishiguro now makes a living by writing television plays and fiction. “I have never gone through this business of sending off a novel and getting it back,” he said. At work on his second novel, he added, “I want the next book to be significantly better than the first.”

In this feature, which appears in TimeOut on the third Sunday of each month, along with our regular Week 3 stories, we delve into The Japan Times’ 113-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity.