Young Generation Must Learn About War to Appreciate Peace

The Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities hosted the talk show "Vietnam through the lens of former war correspondent Ishikawa Bunyo" on March 4.


Ishikawa Bunyo, in his conversation with Vietnamese students, emphasized the importance of young people in Vietnam and Japan learning about the history of war and its impact on society. By understanding the tragedies of war, they can truly appreciate the peace and stability we enjoy today.

Former war correspondent Ishikawa Bunyo (second, from right) at the exchange. Photo: KT

Despite being 86 years old and relying on a cane to walk, Ishikawa Bunyo, a former war correspondent and photojournalist, vividly recalls his time in Vietnam during the mid-1960s. He traveled to the most dangerous war zones, capturing powerful images that depicted the harrowing experiences of the Vietnamese people.

In one of his recollections, he shared an incident where American soldiers were laughing at the deaths of Vietnamese guerrillas, which he also photographed. By reflecting on this moment, he emphasized that even those who lose their lives in war have families and loved ones who suffer as a result. He shed light on the dehumanizing nature of battle, where empathy for the enemy is often absent.

Ishikawa Bunyo stands out as a war correspondent who experienced both the North and South of Vietnam during the conflict. Despite enduring injuries and coming close to death on seven occasions in South Vietnam, he remained dedicated to documenting the war. His photographs from that period provided a glimpse into the devastating consequences of the American military’s actions in Northern Vietnam.

Huynh Ngoc Van, former Director of the War Remnants Museum and a close friend of Ishikawa Bunyo, attests to his deep attachment to the photos he took during his time in Vietnam. Despite Mrs. Kei’s efforts to digitize many of these images and store them on a disc, he still cherishes the film rolls that accompanied him over the past five decades. These photos vividly depict the pain and suffering endured by the Vietnamese people, including the loss of loved ones and instances of arrest and torture. In recent years, Ishikawa Bunyo has embarked on a journey to reconnect with the people he encountered during the war, capturing their lives today through the lens of joy and resilience. The simple and innocent smiles of the Vietnamese people became a profound source of inspiration for him.

Reflecting on the past and the peace we enjoy today, Ishikawa Bunyo describes peace as the ability for individuals to live a normal life, engage in work and agriculture, and provide education for children.

According to Huynh Ngoc Van, Ishikawa Bunyo was born in Okinawa, Japan. He overcame a challenging upbringing to pursue a career in photography and later became a war correspondent, armed with a trusty Nikon camera. He developed a taste for Vietnamese New Rice wine, stir-fried water spinach with garlic dipped in raw fish sauce, and Vietnamese coffee.

Charlotte Pho