“Vietnam Gave Me New Life”

Komatsu Miyuki, a Japanese teacher and editor who holds a deep respect for Vietnam, has been the subject of an article written by Nguyen Phu Binh, former Ambassador of Vietnam to Japan.

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In 2015, I watched the movie “Hoa cung lan gio Viet” (Immersing in the Viet wind). The film tells the story of a Japanese woman and her aged mother who got caught in an unfortunate situation in Japan and came to Vietnam. There, they were revived with happiness.

After doing research, I learned that the movie was based on an autograph named “Old Lady of Echigo Travel to Vietnam.” The author, Komatsu Miyuki, is a Japanese teacher and an editor for the Voice of Vietnam.

Former Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan: Vietnam Revived My Life
A scene from the movie based on Komatsu Miyuki’s book.

Komatsu Miyuki said she knew Vietnam through articles about the just war for national independence. She loved the country and the people of Vietnam since then. When encountering sudden misfortunes, she thought that Vietnam might be a good place to heal her wounds and entrust the rest of her life. In 1992, when she was over 40 years old, Komatsu Miyuki went to Vietnam. She rented a small apartment in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. She teaches Japanese and proofreads at the Voice of Vietnam’s Japanese radio channel. She built a new life, starting with her colleagues, partners, and neighbors in the peaceful and friendly collective quarter.

In her Japanese class, Miyuki heard the story of a student, the son of a Japanese soldier who was in Vietnam 6-7 decades ago. Her student said that he studied Japanese to find his father or at least talk to him if he could ever have a chance to see him again. Miyuki understood this feeling. The more classes she taught, the more people in the same situation that she met. Miyuki then thought that she had to take action to help the separated Vietnamese and Japanese families reunite one day. This is her way of showing gratitude to Vietnam. Komatsu Miyuki has met and listened to stories of family members of Japanese veterans in Vietnam and linked the little information that she could collect. With her support, some children could find their fathers in Japan.

Former Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan: Vietnam Revived My Life
Komatsu Miyuki received a Certificate of Merit for her contributions to strengthening the Japan-Vietnam friendship (Photo: Embassy of Japan in Vietnam).

In 2001, Miyuki’s father passed away. When returning to Japan to mourn her father, Miyuki learned that her mother had lost her memory. Some relatives planned to put Miyuki’s mother in a nursing home but she thought of a place that could make the rest of her mother’s life more beautiful and meaningful. It was Vietnam. Immediately, the two Japanese women moved to Hanoi. Here, her mother has new relatives whose kindness, friendliness, hospitality, and respect for the elderly are the miracle to help her gradually get healthier and happier.

Former Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan: Vietnam Revived My Life
Komatsu Miyuki (right) and her mother.

While taking her mother to visit relatives of Japanese veterans, Miyuki saw her mother pointing to the scenery outside the train car window and shouting “Your father is here”. Miyuki’s father was a soldier in a Southeast Asian country. The scenery in the photos he sent home was similar to Vietnam. Therefore, a splash of her mother’s memory was brought back and she thought that she could see her husband again. She could also recognize her daughter.

When Miyuki’s mother then had an accident and was unable to walk, their landlord helped her to take care of her mother when she went to work. She did not expect to receive support from people who are not her relatives. During that time, even though she had to work hard, she felt warm for being surrounded by the sincere and precious affection of Vietnamese friends.

In 2022, Miyuki returned to Japan after 30 years in Vietnam. Recalling her time in Vietnam, Komatsu Miyuki said: “For me, if there is anything that can be called life, it is the happy days with my mother in Vietnam”. She said she would continue to stay connected with Vietnam through the Vietnamese community in Japan.

Ambassador Nguyen Phu Binh