Kb Abe (ahb-eh) was born on March 7, 1924, in Tokyo, Japan, during an interval when his Japanese father, a physician associated with the Manchurian School of Medicine in Mukden (later Shenyang), China, was in Japan on a research assignment. The family went to China shortly after the child was a year old. Abe remained in Mukden until he was sixteen. The experience of living outside his native country appears to have had a deep and lasting effect on Abe. The idea of one’s homeland, traditionally very deeply ingrained in the Japanese, seems to have scarcely existed for Abe, according to his own comment about his early years. As a matter of fact, official family documents show him to have registered as a native of Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. It is true that he lived in Hokkaido for several years, but Tokyo was indisputably his birthplace. Thus, Tokyo, where he was born, Mukden, the principal place where he was reared, and Hokkaido, the place of his family’s origin, seemed to have little connection in the writer’s mind. Abe himself is said to have commented that he was a “man without a hometown.”
In 1941, Abe’s parents sent him to Tokyo for school and for military training. His academic achievements there were not particularly noteworthy. When World War II broke out, Abe had ambivalent feelings. On the one hand, he found fascism and militarism to be utterly repugnant; on the other hand, the sense of patriotism triggered within him a desire to be identified with defending his country. When the time approached for Abe to make important decisions regarding his higher education, Abe enrolled as a...
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