What are two differences between Japan and the United States discussed in Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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As an eNotes Educator, I find this to be a particularly interesting question just because this story has more to do with the personal plight of Sadako instead of the differences between Japan and the United States.

As a result of this, I have to mention that the first difference is the focus on people instead of on government institutions. You see, to focus on the people (and especially on the children) of Japan, the author places focus on the emotional issues having to do with dropping an Atomic Bomb. We learn of people’s pain. We learn of people’s sickness. We learn of people’s longing for peace. We learn of the suffering of the innocent. On the other hand, the United States, in hopes of deflecting its citizens thoughts away from innocent suffering, always placed the focus on the “evil” government of Japan in order to impersonalize the killing of so many people with the atomic bomb dropped on two cities.

The second difference that is worth noting is the difference between the name of the celebrations (which should make most Americans cringe). The Japanese always celebrate Peace Day on August 6th. It is a day to remember and respect those who died at Hiroshima from the fallout of the atomic bomb. Note the title: Peace Day. On the other hand, America for years would celebrate “VJ Day” which means “Victory Over Japan Day.” The difference between the words “peace” and “victory” are striking and disturbing.

In conclusion, please note that the personal story of Sadako is much more important than the differences between Japan and the United States in this story. In concentrating on Sadako’s plight, the author forces American readers to see innocent suffering from a Japanese point of view.

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