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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May. 2015)


On the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, questioning the nature of war

Spring Exhibition: "Student Battlefield—70 Years After the War"

Postcards from Kenji Fukutomi addressed to his family
From the collection of the Waseda University Archives

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in the World War Two. Centered on the theme of students and war, Waseda University Archives hosted the spring exhibition “Student Battlefield -70 Years After the War” from March 25 to April 25.

With the exemption from military service for students being abolished in October 1943, many students were sent to war while still enrolled as students and lost their precious lives. However, the issues of students and war did not end with their deployment. Many students made themselves eligible for military service by graduating early, and others were deployed after graduation. During wartime, students were forced to constantly face the issues of war and their own death. Furthermore, family and friends of those who perished during the war, and surviving students had to live in a postwar society while coming to terms with the deaths of those lost.

This exhibition does not focus on the tragedy or heroism of the war and the students who perished in it, but rather on the disposition of students forced to face their own death. It hopefully was an opportunity to re-examine the true nature of the war that led to such tragic circumstances for student soldiers and their families.