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Wednesday, May 3, 2006


Apples fall too close to the tree


Roger Pulvers is full of it in his April 23 Counterpoint piece "Folkways' school ban puts 'stateways' to democratic test." I have seen few opinion pieces that put forward such dim twiddle as trying to compare the educational choices given repentant (or otherwise) children of Nazi war criminals with the exclusion of Aum Shinrikyo guru Chizuo Matsumoto's (also known as Shoko Asahara) kids from local public schools.

I lived in Germany in the 1950s, and the ex-Nazis and their families had it hard. We moved into a house 50 meters from a wartime Nazi's store, and it was one of the first things we were told by the neighbors. Yes, his kids went to the local school and they had it tough. But there is no grounds for comparing their situation with that of Matsumoto's kids.

You could say that Nazism was the state religion of its time, but that religion was totally dismembered after the war. None of its senior members tried to hang on to power or position in it. There was no postwar recruiting going on; no funds were being raised to support Nazi beliefs; nobody was holding meetings and preaching the way of the "master," using texts and recordings of past speeches to convert new believers or comfort the original members who had supported the "great leader" before, during and after the atrocities.

And those kids of former Nazis repudiated their father's acts and beliefs. They were not home-schooled in the Nazi-envisioned path to salvation and truth. Asahara's crimes are rooted in the cult he created. Under the name of Aleph, it continues to revere and propagate the "leader's" ideas. So far as the local schools know, his kids are following in the path of their father. The terrorism perpetrated on Japan by this cretin and his cultists in 1995 has not had any kind of closure in Japan.

If we follow the German pattern, this religion would be outlawed, the children would disavow their father, and then the schools would accept them. Asahara's wife has clearly not renounced her husband's acts or beliefs. Therefore, one can only assume his children haven't faced the truth either. Who knows what the risk is to classmates or local families? Aum still lives. The locals are rightly concerned.

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.

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