The Experience of Soldiers with PTSD as a powerful anti-war testimony

Apr 19, 2024

Peace Boat staff members Nohira Shinsaku and Jasna Bastic recently visited the Association of Families of Japanese Soldiers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Tokyo. Jasna Bastic presented her book "Odlazak u noc /Going into the night" about Croatian soldiers who suffered from PTSD after the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and discussed the causes of PTSD and public awareness of this problem in Japan and other countries.

Kuroi Akio, President of the Association, himself had an abusive and depressed father. Travelling onboard Peace Boat and learning of the situation of people impacted by PTSD in other countries, he came to learn that his father's psychological problems had been caused by his traumatic war experience. PTSD among Japanese soldiers from WW2 has been always hidden and ignored, remaining completely unknown to many families as the cause of their fathers ' asocial and violent behaviour. Now in his late 70s, Kuroi made a post on social media after his voyage in 2018, inviting others in Japan with similar experience to contact him, and was surprised at the number of people who responded to that call. Finding out that the Japanese army ordered all hospitals to burn documentation about soldiers treated for "war neurosis" after WW2, Mr Kuroi and his Association has since been campaigning to investigate this decision and make available what documentation remains.

As the result of this citizen-led campaign, then Health Minister Kato Katsunobu announced at a Diet session in March 2023 that Shokei-kan, a government-established museum which preserves and exhibits historical materials related to wounded and retired soldiers, will conduct a study about the army's documentation related to PTSD.

Jasna Bastic said: "I was very moved to hear from Kuroi san and other members the same testimonies as I described in my book about Croatian soldiers with PTSD. We have come to the same realization that the testimonies of traumatized soldiers diagnosed with PTSD are powerful anti-war testimonies, which demonstrate the horrors and inhumanity of wars and the important path to peace and prevention of violent conflicts.