One Man's Justice

( 2 )

Overview

Japan just after World War II is the setting for this searching and provocative novel. Takuya, an officer in the former Imperial Army, is only mildly surprised when he receives a postcard asking him to report to the U.S. Regional Command Headquarters in Tokyo. He assumes that the occupying authorities have learned of his involvement in the execution of American prisoners-of-war. Now he is a fugitive in his own country.

As he travels on crowded trains through a land of defeat, ...

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Overview

Japan just after World War II is the setting for this searching and provocative novel. Takuya, an officer in the former Imperial Army, is only mildly surprised when he receives a postcard asking him to report to the U.S. Regional Command Headquarters in Tokyo. He assumes that the occupying authorities have learned of his involvement in the execution of American prisoners-of-war. Now he is a fugitive in his own country.

As he travels on crowded trains through a land of defeat, humiliation, and hunger, he is haunted by dark memories of the war. With newspapers denouncing the Imperial Army and widespread talk of prosecution for war crimes, he fears that his past will be revealed. And yet Takuya doesn't feel like a criminal. Why should an honest and dutiful man like him be prosecuted by the very people who dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, slaughtering thousands? As he soon learns, truth and justice have no place in a world where the victors determine the rules of the game.
One Man's Justice is an unnerving story of timeless relevance from a master of the psychological novel.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An austerely graceful book, one which should help cement Yoshimura's reputation here and bring over more of his twenty bestselling novels in its wake."—THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD

"Extraordinary in detail and verisimilitude . . . a haunting read."—LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK REVIEW

Washington Post Book World
An austerely graceful book, one which should help cement Yoshimura's reputation here and bring over more of his twenty bestselling novels...
Library Journal
The third of Yoshimura's works to be translated into English (see, e.g., On Parole, LJ 2/15/00), this work of historical fiction takes place in Japan shortly after World War II. In it, readers meet Kiyohara Takuya, a man who had served as a Japanese officer in the Imperial Army and is now on the run for his involvement with the death of an American POW. With money from his family, Takuya goes into hiding, creating for himself a new identity in another town. As Higa Seiichi, Takuya finds a job with a kindly employer and slowly begins anew. However, Takuya's mind is never at rest in this predominantly narrative piece, as Yoshimura describes his constant emotional and psychological battles with his past and his ongoing fear of being captured. The novel opens up a bit slowly, though readers interested in detailed descriptions of wartime operations may find it quite riveting. The climactic ending (which sheds light on the title of the work) seems a bit rushed, with Yoshimura covering the span from 1949 to 1957 in the last ten pages of the novel. Nevertheless, this work is a well-written one that pays attention to characterization and detail. Readers enjoying historical war novels and light suspense are likely to appreciate this title. For Asian literature collections and larger public libraries. Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Japanese war veteran's ordeal as a fugitive from American justice-in an ambitious though curiously uninvolving early (1978) novel by the bestselling author of Shipwrecks (1996) and On Parole (2000). Takuya Kirohawa, a former officer in Japan's Imperial Army, is summoned to appear before US Occupation Army officers in Tokyo, shortly after the conclusion of WWII. Having participated in the executions of captured American bomber pilots, Takuya knows what fate awaits him-and goes into hiding, traveling throughout his destroyed country to the homes of one relative or friend after another, before finally finding a compassionate host family who (without knowing either his true identity or his circumstances) find him work as a laborer in a rebuilt match factory. Yoshimura writes feelingly of Takuya's understandable bitterness: he had (under strict orders) beheaded a single enemy soldier, while US pilots had wreaked unprecedented havoc on nonmilitary targets, climaxing with the decisive bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Unfortunately, this personal dimension is swallowed up in thinly dramatized summaries of historical fact-presented both as Takuya's detailed memories and as information he gleans, piecemeal, from newspaper stories. The result is that the novel's focus on Takuya's embattled mind and heart is continually distracted, and the reader's identification with this otherwise quite fully realized character waxes and wanes erratically. Nevertheless, Yoshimura's depiction of postwar Japan as a hollowed-out landscape marked by poverty, famine, despair, and passive "fraternization" with unrepentant conqueror Americans, has real power. And the closing pages, which focus on Takuya'scapture, nine-year-imprisonment, and unexpected release (in 1957), rise to a level of very nearly tragic irony-and also, incidentally, sow the seeds of Yoshimura's superb On Parole (2000). A qualified success, at best. But there's no doubt that Yoshimura is a very considerable talent. One looks forward to seeing more of his scrupulous, intense fiction in English translation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780151006397
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/3/2001
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 8.33 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Akira Yoshimura is the prize-winning author of twenty novels and short-story collections, many of them bestsellers in Japan. One Man's Justice is his third novel to be translated into English.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2003

    One Man's Justice

    The historical fiction novel, One Man¿s Justice, by Akira Yoshimura takes place in Japan immediately following Japan¿s surrender to the U.S. in World War II. The year is 1946, and the main character, Takuya, is on the run from occupational forces in Japan out to apprehend criminals of war. Takuya was an officer in the Japanese army who took part in an execution of American prisoners. Now that the war is over many Japanese prisoners accused of war crimes are being tried and executed. When Takuya realizes that he has been accused he decides to become a fugitive. Takuya also feels it is unjust, he states, ¿why should I punished for having pride in my nation?¿ (68). Takuya is constantly on the move, and paranoid throughout the story, ¿it was better that he stayed out of public areas Takuya thought in fear that he would be recognized.¿ (123). He moves throughout Japan relying on old friends, changing his name, and finding a job. The book also contains an unexpected ending. Overall it was a well-written book. The author blended great flashbacks, extremely realistic details, and a thorough plot. Once one starts readings this book they will realize that it moves rather fast-paced, which makes it easier to read. The author did a wonderful job on flashbacks, he constantly has Takuya reminiscing on his past, the war, and the night he executed an American POW. The author in general has a strong writing style; there wasn¿t a boring moment in the novel. The book is similar to many other World War II historical fiction novels in the aspect that it discusses the devastation Japan was in after the war. It differs though because many W.W.II historical fiction novels reflect a civilian¿s life after the war, while this one documents a fugitive soldier¿s. It is similar to other works of Yoshimura¿s such as Shipwrecks. It has hard to find an author to compare Yoshimura to because his style is quite unique. I myself felt it was a good book. I enjoyed learning about the condition Japan was in after the war, the economic depression, the food shortage, and the devastation of cities. It was quite educational. I also enjoyed how the book documented one specific soldier. It was a quick read, once one begins reading they will find that it is hard to put down because I found myself constantly wondering what would happen to Takuya. The plot also moves quickly which makes it even more of a fast-paced read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in World War II, Japanese culture, or who enjoys fugitive stories. It is a powerful book that remains gripping from beginning to end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2002

    Lee's Review

    One Man¿s Justice was a fascinating book about the trials and tribulations that one man faces when he returns to Japan after World War Two. Takuya, a native man from a small town in Japan, had worked for the Japanese authorities during the war, and is now being accused of many war crimes. He becomes a fugitive in his own country. The book is set in the 1950¿s, it follows Takuya¿s path around Japan as he tries to avoid the authorities and potentially save his life. He returns to his house to visit his family for one last time, not realizing how close the police were to finding him. He is only able to spend one night there, and is on the run again. With money from his family, Takuya goes into hiding, creating for himself a new identity in another town. To Takuya¿s dismay, each step he takes is in fact bringing him closer to the very people he had once worked for, but now want him dead. This war story is magically written. Akira Yoshimura uses a superb amount of adjectives to describe exactly what is going on in the book. Each scene is well described and could be understood with ease. The book includes many flash backs to the experiences that Takuya underwent during the time he served his country in the war. Akira adds splendid details to interact with the reader in ways that most books are not able to do. The words flow, and the reader can almost become the main character. This book was written for many audiences, however it would most be enjoyed by those who like to read war stories. This book cannot be compared to many other war stories for the simple fact that it takes place after the war. It flashes back to the war in only a few instances. This book was written very well. It describes all of Takuya¿s experiences with such detail, the reader feels as though they are a part of his story. I thought the book was good. It got a little confusing at times, simply because I don¿t understand much about planes and guns. However, I would recommend it to others to read.

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