Translation Works
The 2nd Selected Works
Taken Captive
FRENCH / François Compoint published
Originally Published by:
Sogensha (1952)
  • Part of a series of novels based on the author's experience serving in the Pacific War
&&The memoirs of a writer who took a close look at the egotism of Japanese prisoners in a U.S. POW camp$$
The author is drafted into the Japanese army in 1944 and sent to Mindoro Island in the Philippines as a security guard. After contracting malaria and being left behind by his fellow soldiers, he wanders about the mountains and is captured. This book is a record of the days he passed in a POW camp on the island of Leyte.
The scenes of his time in the mountains include vivid portrayals of the author frantically wandering in search of water as he stares death in the face. Feeling hopeless and considering suicide, he sees an American soldier with youthful face appear before him. Hiding in a thicket, he removes the safety from his rifle, but he decides that he cannot shoot, not wanting to defile the final hours of his own life with the blood of another person.
Later, becoming an interpreter at his POW camp, the author makes good use of his intermediary position to observe life in the camp and the people there. The Japanese POWs on Leyte are survivors of a decisive defeat in war, and there is no martial spirit remaining in them. The American soldiers give them clean dwellings and 2,700 calories of food along with clothes, tobacco, and other things. The POWs' excessive calorie intake makes them get so fat that it becomes hard to tell them apart. The differences among the POWs stem from their characters and professions. Most of them had been farmers, but there were also those who had been salaried employees, small and medium-sized company owners, diplomats, priests, and gamblers. The camp creates a very special society comprised of diverse prisoners with no reason to live – no present to fight for and no future to look forward to. In an enclosed area, sycophantism and egotism become rife and rampant.
This work offers a realistic portrayal of the sadness of life in a POW camp, which seems to be a microcosm of post-war Japanese society.
GENRE: War literature
AWARDS: 1st Yokomitsu Riichi Prize
(An award established in memory of Yokomitsu Riichi, a leading writer of the New Sensation School, and given for outstanding literary works)
2018 International Translation Forum on Contemporary Japanese LiteratureJLPP Translation Workshop 2018