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Legacy of war in Asia

Japanese journalist who covered China’s battlefields and later became anti-war activist, dies aged 101

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 August, 2016, 4:06pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2016, 11:01pm

Centenarian journalist and antiwar activist Takeji Muno died on Sunday at his home in the city of Saitama, just northwest of Tokyo, due to senility, his family said. He was 101.

He was known as the publisher of a weekly local newspaper named Taimatsu (Torch), and wrote anti-war articles including those revealing his regret that he had been unable to report the truth during the second world war and instead had participated in activities to boost morale by writing false reports of victories.

Hailing from Akita Prefecture in northern Japan, he graduated from the predecessor of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies majoring in Spanish. He began working as a reporter during the Pacific war and joined the Asahi Shimbun newspaper in 1940.

After spending several years reporting from the battlefields as an Asahi Shimbun foreign correspondent in China and Southeast Asia, he resigned from his position on August 15, 1945, the day the war ended, to take responsibility for his coverage of the war.

After leaving the Asahi Shimbun, he returned to Yokote, Akita Prefecture, where he started to issue the weekly newspaper in 1948 to publish his articles on anti-war and peace issues, problems surrounding farm villages and matters concerning education.

He issued the newspaper until 1978 and thereafter continued to work as a journalist by writing articles and books and giving lectures.

He had remained active until recently, criticising in a press conference Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration for pushing security-related laws through the Diet last September.

In May, Muno, in a wheelchair, appeared at a rally where some 50,000 people gathered at a Tokyo park to call for the preservation of Japan’s pacifist Constitution and the scrapping of the security laws.