Heartwarming documentary touches on Sino-Japanese friendship

Beijing—Born in Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, Maruyama Iwao was just 11 years old when he was repatriated to his native country, Japan in 1946. Now 81, Maruyama’s story has been made into the documentary, “Travel With Me: A Journey of Gratitude Over 70 Years,” which is set to be screened in China Tuesday.
The film tells the story of Maruyama’s recent bicycle trip, where he retraced the journey he made from from Harbin to Huludao, Liaoning Province, 70 year ago. “Along the way I was touched by the helpfulness of Chinese people, just like in the old days,” Maruyama said. Tian Yuhong, vice head of China Radio International, which produced the documentary, said that they would like the film to make people reflect on history, enhance Sino-Japanese relations, and call for the respect of peace and life.
During the Chinese people’s war of resistance against Japanese aggression that ended in 1945, more than 35 million Chinese people were killed or injured.
More than one million Japanese people were sent back home between 1946 and 1948.
“At that time, China was in the heat of civil war,” Maruyama said. “To ensure our safety, many Chinese people protected us along the way. Japan committed such a crime but we were ultimately forgiven. Were we on the Chinese side, I am not sure if the Japanese would have done the same.” Maruyama hadn’t thought of retracing his journey in China until 2011 when he was working as a volunteer, following the massive earthquake in Japan.
He met another man who planned to travel in China by bike and decided to join him. The plan sounded crazy to many. “I was 77 years old, and Japan and China were not on good terms due to the Diaoyu Islands dispute,” he said. But he could not be dissuaded.
In 2012, they rode about 300 km from Shanghai to Nanjing, eastern China. Inspired by the trip, Maruyama had an even bolder plan. “I was helped by so many Chinese people,” he said. “Should I die before saying thanks to them? It would have been a great regret to me.”—Xinhua

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