Patlabor 2 is a Japanese Anime (Cartoon) that waxes philosophical about war and peace themes. Here is a poignant dialogue between a policeman and government official that reflects upon these ideas. Also note the Japanese context portrayed here–their defeat in World War II and their position in the world then and now.
Is peace the absence of war? Or war the absence of peace? Is there such a thing as a just war or a unjust peace? What is civilisation if it is founded on the victims of war?
Next to religion, it is politics and its darker brother: war, that has moved society and civilisation towards various ends (sometimes folly).
Great insights from this cartoon. (Transcript of Arakawa’s monologue is below)
You as a policeman, Gota, me as a self-defense force spook, what is it the two of us are actually trying to protect?
It’s fifty years since the end of world war two. We’ve lived our lives never having known war. Violence yes–but that’s recognized as criminal, never a time when the whole country was dedicated to legal violence.
Peace? Is it peace we’re working to protect?
What is peace meant for this country, for our city, for us?
All the effort and passion Japan put into the war ended in Hiroshima in defeat. Then the Americans came, bringing their nuclear deterrent, their cold war, their Hollywood chewing-gum war. And now all over the world there are bullet wars, civil wars, suffering, misery, death.
We’re a rich country. And what is our wealth built on? The bloody corpses in all these wars. They’re the foundation of our peace. We now put the same effort into indifference that our parents put into war. Other countries comfortably far away pay the price for our prosperous peace. We’ve learned very well how to ignore their suffering.
No matter how repulsive the peace, it’s still vital to guard it. It may be an immoral peace, maybe an unjust peace, but an unjust peace is still better than a just war.
I share your revulsion about “just” wars, if there ever was such a thing it was the war against the nazis, our allies Gota, our allies! But how many millions throughout history have died in the cause of what their lying leaders called “just” wars?
And yet it seems to me that the line between a just war and a unjust peace is very faint indeed. If the just war is a lie, is the unjust peace less of a lie? We are told there is peace but we look around us and even if we cannot give it words our lives tell us we cannot believe what we are being told.
In the end every war gives way to peace so-called, and every so-called peace is the dormant seed of war.
So it’s only a matter of time, til the hard reality of war sweeps away our illusion that the absence of war is peace. So I ask you again, what are we working to protect?
We enjoy peace on our T.V. screens while just outside the camera shot the war is raging. We forget we’re just a camera angle behind the battlelines. No, we don’t forget–we quite simply refuse to remember. That cannot go on. Sometime, somehow, we will be punished.
Punished? By who? By God?
Anyone in this world can be like God, most in a universe no bigger than their own minds, all-present, all-knowing, and yet impotent outside the confines of their heads. And what God cannot do, men will attempt. Unless. Unless we stop them.
They must be stopped. That is our task.