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早乙女勝元 – Saotome Katsumoto

October 26, 2010

Born in 1932, SAOTOME Katsumoto experienced the Tokyo air raids of 1944-45 as a junior high school student. He was born and raised in an area of Tokyo that was hit particularly hard by the B-29 incendiary raids. Because Saotome’s family continued to live in this neighborhood for the duration of the war, he was exposed to the entire cycle of attacks.

Saotome began writing about these wartime experiences as a young man and quickly became an established author of both fiction and nonfiction. Throughout his long career, Saotome has focused on issues of war and peace. During the 1970s, for example, he was instrumental in planning and editing the first large-scale collection of air raid historical materials to contain a major focus on the experiences of the common citizen. Spanning five hefty volumes, this book is called “Tokyo Daikushu–Sensaishi” (Great Tokyo Air Raid—War Damage Documentation).

Also during the 1970s, the grassroots organization Saotome assembled to preserve the memories of those who had experienced the raids firsthand (The Association to Record the Tokyo Air Raids) became a model for similar associations that were soon created around the country. Saotome currently serves as the director of the Tokyo Air Raid and War Damages Resource Center in Kitasuna, Koto Ward.

In the following interview, Saotome describes his family’s experiences during the air raids and also describes the motivations behind his subsequent anti-war activism.

The interview (eight parts, approximately 45 minutes) was conducted in August 2009 by Cary Karacas.
Multiple language settings are available from the embedded player’s subtitle controls.






Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Part Five:

Part Six:

Part Seven:

Part Eight: