Photo/IllutrationKordbacheh Mansour serves food to a guest at his pub in 2018. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

We have been getting news reports from Iran almost daily since the end of last year. After firing missiles against military bases where U.S. troops were stationed, Iran appeared to stand down. However, more rockets have flown since.

I wonder how Iranian residents in Japan feel about this present state of tension.

"When U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that the military could target 52 Iranian sites, I feared for the safety of my family home," said Kordbacheh Mansour, 55, who has been a resident of Japan for 30 years and runs an "izakaya" Japanese-style pub in Tokyo's Kami-Itabashi district.

His usually jovial, joke-loving persona vanished when he noted, "The wife and child of one of my friends were aboard the Ukrainian jetliner (that was shot down last week)."

A black mourning ribbon was attached to an Iranian flag pinned to a wall of his pub. Mansour is deeply worried about further missile exchanges.

"When I was a child, I was taught that if I someone hits me on my right cheek, I should hit that person's left cheek," he said. "But military retaliation causes nothing but tragedy."

According to a reporter stationed in Tehran, quarrels and altercations are a daily occurrence, but the locals know perfectly well when and how to stop. Married couples and drivers engage in shouting matches in public, but stop the moment someone steps in, or both parties look as if they'd had enough.

Might the Iran-U.S. "fight" ever end in such a manner?

It has been 40 years since the relationship between the countries turned mutually hostile. After the collapse of Iran's pro-U.S. monarchy and the Iran hostage crisis, Tehran and Washington severed diplomatic ties.

Trump is flexing his military muscle in hopes of getting re-elected this year, while the Iranian government wants to stamp out internal dissent.

Each side has its own agenda, but that is no justification for shooting missiles at one another.

"Do not dig a hole, or you will fall into it," goes an old Iranian aphorism about retributive justice. The leaders of both Iran and the United States need to mull over this now.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 14

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.