Sakura Nobeyama’s The Watanabe Name Has a Dark Family Secret Worth Dying For
A Japanese tycoon contrives to keep the truth of his father’s 1967 murder – both who and why – a mystery to protect the family name, and he’s willing to die trying.
Tokyo, Japan (PRUnderground) July 18th, 2019
In 2002, Kenji Watanabe, venerable Japanese business tycoon, receives the call he has dreaded for years. While not unexpected, he had hoped the questions would never come. A detective has been asked to reopen the investigation into his father’s murder in 1967. Unlike the detective, Kenji knows, has always known, who killed his father – and why – but he has no intention of helping the police solve the case. On the contrary, he intends to do everything in his power to make sure the mystery remains unsolved.
His father, a decorated general in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, made more than his fair share of enemies throughout his life: women who had been forced to do as he said, or else, and men he had angered and abused with his rank and power. One of the aggrieved stole his war sword, left a note threatening to kill him, and did just that at a festival held to honor the despotic general for his lifetime achievements.
The Watanabe Name is a skillfully crafted, reverse-chronological journey through three bleak periods in the life of Kenji Watanabe. In 2002, his quandary is how to avoid the police and their probing questions into his family’s past. In 1967, he grapples with notions of family loyalty just before his father’s death. In 1943, he wrestles with daily decisions he has to make as an officer in the Imperial Army. Kenji struggles to follow in the steps of his illustrious ancestry but is unable to block out the mistreatment of the Chinese at the hands of some of his fellow soldiers. The ideals he learned in officer training do not match with what he observes on a daily basis, and he finds himself wanting to get away but with nowhere to go.
After forming a unique friendship with a Manchurian waiter, he is approached about helping to find several Chinese children who were taken by Japanese soldiers. Helping them could be seen by some as treason, but the youngsters are completely innocent of any wrongdoing and have nothing to do with the war. When he reluctantly agrees to take a look into the situation, he finds himself pulled into the quagmire farther than he ever intended to go.
From themes of forbidden love, revenge, unrealized dreams, rare camaraderie, greed, pride, and shame, this tale of haves and have nots, full of Asian history and realities of war, comes a story of love and friendship that will inspire faith in the human spirit.
“If you want facts, read history; but if you want truth, read fiction. Nobeyama cleverly forges both in this thrilling Japanese mystery of family, intrigue, and redemption. Sensational storytelling.” – Tom Haeg, Japan America Society of Minnesota
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