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Day of Reckoning, 50 Years Later

By from ''The Railway Man.'' / August 9, 1995



THE RAILWAY MAN

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By Eric Lomax

W.W. Norton & Co.

276 pp., $22

Jonathan Cape,

London, England, 15.99

He said to me, 'Fifty years is a long time, but for me it is a time of suffering. I never forgot you, I remember your face, especially your eyes.' He looked deep into my eyes when he said this. His own face still looked like the one I remembered, rather fine-featured, with dark and slightly hidden eyes; his wide mouth was still noticeable beneath cheeks that had sunken inwards.

I told him that I could remember his very last words to me. He asked what they were and laughed when I said 'Keep your chin up.'

He asked if he could touch my hand. My former interrogator held my arm, which was so much larger than his, stroking it quite unselfconsciously. I didn't find it embarrassing. He gripped my wrist with both of his hands and told me that when I was being tortured - he used the word - he measured my pulse. I remembered he had written this in his memoir. Yet now that we were face to face, his grief seemed far more acute than mine. 'I was a member of the Imperial Japanese Army; we treated your countrymen very, very badly.' 'We both survived,' I said encouragingly, believing it now.