A community of Japanese veterans of World War II has been unearthed by a documentary maker near Thailand’s border with Burma, where the soldiers settled after fearing the shame of returning home in defeat.
The film Hana to Heitai (Flowers and Soldiers) is also named after the Thai wives who helped the Imperial Army conscripts build a new life.
Matsukichi Fujita described the six veterans as marked by terrible experiences – such as eating dead comrades to survive – but redeemed by their wives’ affection.
He director told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper of the striking contrast between the veterans and their smiling wives.
‘I feel sorry for him,’ one of the women told Matsukichi about her decision to marry. At this, the director said her husband’s face also showed an unaccustomed smile.