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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 September 16 - 29  > University works to preserve history of wartime ‘patriotic farm’ in Manchuria
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2015 September 16 - 29 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

University works to preserve history of wartime ‘patriotic farm’ in Manchuria

September 22, 2015
Staff and alumni of Tokyo University of Agriculture (TUA) are working to preserve the history of its “patriotic farm” that the university operated in Manchuria during World War II as part of its wartime cooperation.

During the last years of WWII, various organizations—mainly prefectural governments—ran “patriotic farms” in Manchuria in order to help supply food to Japan. The university set up one in 1944 near the Soviet Union border. It was the only patriotic farm run by a university and had 7,000 ha of land, but the surrounding natural environment was severe: the soil was wet in summer and frozen in winter.

In April 1945, a student named Murao Takashi arrived at the farm just after entering TUA. He worked hard to bring the waste land under cultivation. As the Soviet Union revoked its neutrality and its army crossed the border on August 9, Murao left the farm in order to avoid enemy bullets and fires set to houses by the fleeing Japanese Army. Exposed to extreme fatigue and terrible hunger during his escape, he sometimes looked at his fingers barely moving and said to himself, “I am still alive.” He did not learn of Japan’s surrender until he finished walking 500 kilometers in thirty days.

Murao was taken prisoner and engaged in forced labor in Soviet Union military prison camps, but succeeded in escaping from the camp. He managed to return home in 1946. However, of around 110 staff and students in the university’s patriotic farm, 58 died during the chaos of war’s end due to malnutrition and dysentery and other diseases.

Murao, now 86-year-old, delivered a speech about his experiences in Manchuria at a lecture to university students in early-September. He concluded his speech by saying, “I don’t want Japan to be a country where young people have to go to war again. This is why I told you my story.”

This lecture was organized by TUA professor Koshio Kaihei and Adachi Taro who teach international agricultural development. They also held an exhibition about the patriotic farm at the university museum.

The two professors said they believe that international agricultural cooperation is inconsistent with efforts to make a war-fighting Japan. Koshio said he hopes that the students will learn the importance of peace from the history of the patriotic farm. Adachi said, “If Japan gives a hand to war waged by the United States, it will put the lives of university graduates working overseas in harm’s way.”
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