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Regarding Hiroaki Sato’s June 25 article, “Irony of being in the company of ’12-year-olds“: Although far from novel, a conversation about the extent to which the Japanese World War II government and military were no worse than Western governments and militaries could be illuminating.

However, since Sato is primarily interested in musing on the utterances of Yukio Mishima, I find myself curious about something entirely different. After all, Mishima’s contention that Japanese WWII leaders received “victor’s justice,” or for that matter, that various Western countries acted imperialistically before, during and after WWII, is pretty commonplace.

Yet, militias, intellectual fascism and militarism, military coups, death cults, public suicides and public beheadings in postwar Japan are uncommon, to say the least. Mishima extolled violence, brutality, machismo and nihilism and ended his life, presumably, in what he saw as an act of sanguinary poetic purity.

In Sato’s excerpts, Mishima condemns Western nations for their hypocrisy, not their violence.

How are we to understand Mishima’s bizarre views? How are we to understand his lust for suicide? In what way was Mishima’s behavior informed by psychological narcissism? What psychological scars or pathologies account for Mishima’s unhinged, dangerous and violent sentimentality?

Did Mishima’s literary style grow more overwrought and maudlin in concert with his personality? I look forward to Sato’s biography of Mishima to get his interpretation of these issues.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

brett gross

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