A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s desire to remove pacifist constraints on the Self-Defense Forces from Japan’s post-WWII constitution has found more support among the Japanese people now that North Korea has nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, Abe’s objective can be a hard sell for many Japanese citizens, who view peace as central to the nation’s identity.

Yahoo News journalist Michael Walsh traveled to Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki from Nov. 5 to Nov. 11 on a fellowship from Foreign Press Center Japan to discuss the nation’s current security challenges, commitment to pacifism and collective memory of the atomic bombings. Every person interviewed shared a commitment to keeping Japan safe while promoting peace and nuclear disarmament. But there was disagreement over the right path to this goal. (Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

Photography by Michael Walsh/Yahoo News

Read: Japan’s atomic dilemma: Pacifism and the threat of North Korea » 

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A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, or Genbaku Dome, has been preserved in the same state it was in immediately after the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 6, 1945. It is seen here as leaves begin to take on autumn colors, on Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

A recruitment poster for the Self-Defense Forces featuring Japanese actress and model Mitsu Dan was on display in various military and government buildings. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Shoppers and other pedestrians stroll through Tokyo’s fashionable Ginza district, which has many upscale stores and restaurants. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Commuters travel to work using the Nagasaki Electric Tramway. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Jyunya Takesue, 31, hands out packets of tissue featuring advertisements for a pachinko parlor in Shinbashi, Tokyo. “Yes, I’m concerned about North Korea developing a nuclear weapon and think that’s a threat to Japan. We have to strengthen self-defense, including SDF, and work with America,” Takesue said. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Kenji Shiga, the director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, stands in front of “€œCaravan of Peace: East (Sun).” The mosaic featured in the museum is based on a drawing by atomic-bomb survivor Ikuo Hirayama. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

A Japanese woman reads about North Korea abduction victims at a display in the lobby for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Tatsujiro Suzuki, the director of the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA) at Nagasaki University, talks to Michael Walsh of Yahoo News€™. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

A stone statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, in Tokyo’s Shiba Park. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Hiroharu Aoki, the director of the Crisis Management Division for Nagasaki Prefectural Government. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan produces a series of posters to call attention to the North Korean abduction issue. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Pedestrians cross the street near Shinbashi Station in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

A view of Hiroshima at night. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Former Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani stands in his office beside framed calligraphy with moral teachings and instructions. One work on display says that a person of virtue is not isolated and must have some companions. Another piece says the unvarnished truth is better than a cunning ruse and that honesty is the best policy. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Takashi Kado, 82, survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. Now he works as a €œNagasaki Peace Guide€ at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

A teen rock band performs outside Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

A view of Tokyo Tower in the district of Minato at sunset. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Hanako Misuoka and Jo Takeda, both 21, talk near the fountain at Nagasaki University. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Ryusuke Wakahoi, the deputy director of the Strategic Intelligence Analysis Office, reads through information on North Korea at the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Shinjuku, Tokyo. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

A statue dedicated to peace outside the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Yoshimitsu Morihiro, the deputy director of the Defense Policy Division, addresses the role of the Self-Defense Forces at the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Shinjuku, Tokyo. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Businessmen outside the Ministry of Defense Headquarters in Ichigaya, Shinjuku, Tokyo. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

A view of hilly Nagasaki neighborhoods from Nagasaki Station. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

A view from Tokyo Tower. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Narushige Michishita, left, specializes in Japanese defense, foreign policy and security issues on the Korean peninsula at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Minato, Tokyo. Yahoo News journalist Michael Walsh, right, interviews Michishita on campus. (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

A look into Japan, a nation torn between peace and preparation

Takehiko Tsuiki, 73, lives in Hiratsuka city in Kanagawa Prefecture. He stopped by a FamilyMart, a large Japanese convenience store chain, for coffee before going to his doctor’s office in Tokyo on Nov. 6, 2017. “I’m sure Trump and Abe are trying to address that threat but I think it’s a problem between the U.S. and North Korea, not Japan and North Korea,” Tsuiki said. “What we have to do is put a period, put an end on the Korean War because it hasn’t officially ended. The parties involved in the Korean War include the U.S., South Korea and the United Nations — not Japan.” (Photo: Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

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