96-year-old Kobayashi Kancho

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For 96-year-old Japanese veteran Kobayashi Kancho, the day when he was captured by the army led by the Communist Party of China 74 years ago marked a new chapter of his life.

Kobayashi Kancho is a 96-year-old Japanese veteran who joined the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. [Photo/Xinhua]

Kobayashi Kancho is a 96-year-old Japanese veteran who joined the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. [Photo/Xinhua] 

"I thank the Chinese people for bringing me a new life," he said during an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

"Seventy-five years ago, I was a Japanese soldier pointing my gun at the Eighth Route Army. But when I was captured, the Chinese people treated me as a true friend and brother instead of an enemy, " Kobayashi recalled how he changed from a Japanese invader to a Chinese soldier.

On June 19, 1941, Kobayashi was captured by the Chinese army when he was on a mission in Shandong province in Eastern China. He tried twice to commit suicide, but was saved and cured by the Chinese.

During the march with the Chinese army, he witnessed how the Chinese villages were burned by the Imperial Japanese Army, women raped and innocent people killed by the Japanese soldiers. He gradually realized the war initiated by Japan against China was a war of aggression and brought tremendous pain and suffering to the Chinese people.

He felt guilty of the Japanese atrocities to the Chinese people. On Sept. 19, 1941, Kobayashi and his fellow Japanese soldiers joined the Eighth Route Army. They distributed anti-war leaflets, wrote slogans and made telephone calls, trying to persuade the Japanese army to surrender.

"The old me had disappeared when I was captured by the Chinese army. The Chinese people awakened me, bringing me a new life," Kobayashi said he is proud of being a Chinese soldier and contributing his time for the friendship of the two countries.

Having experienced the war as an invader and an anti-war fighter, Kobayashi understood the full horror of the war and knew the current peace came at a heavy price. As for the security legislation which may drag Japan into war again, Kobayashi said it is a political game of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration. "The nature of the war bills is to break the international order established after WWII. It'll threaten peace and stability of the neighboring countries and even the Asian region in the long run," Kobayashi said.

Recent polls showed that the majority of the Japanese population are opposed to the bills which is deemed unconstitutional by over 90 percent of the Japanese constitutional experts and a plethora of renowned scholars.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. At the invitation of the Chinese government, Kobayashi will attend the activities to commemorate the victory of the war in Beijing September. "Taking part in the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression is the most precious treasure in my life," Kobayashi said, adding his only wish for the rest of his life is to tell the truth of the invasion history to the next generation and let Sino-Japan friendship continue.

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