Photo/Illutration British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto after signing a security assurance at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on May 11 (AP Photo, Pool)

After being invaded by the neighboring Soviet Union during World War II, Finland sided with Nazi Germany to protect its independence.

Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was a young woman during that turbulent period.

The eventual creator of Moomin books for children expressed her hatred for war to the effect: “War is going on everywhere. I have trouble finding my words these days. The agony borne by the entire nation is crushing me, tearing me into pieces, assaulting me with terror as if I am being blown up.”

Perhaps in search of her own salvation, she wove fantasy tales.

In “Tove Jansson Life, Art, Words,” author Boel Westin notes themes in her early works, such as family breakups and loss of hope, were inspired by the war.

Just as Jansson’s stories were born from her tragic experiences, postwar Finland adopted a new style of diplomacy--neutrality.

Positioning itself outside the conflicts among major powers, Finland remained amicable toward the Soviet Union while establishing relations with the West.

Finland joined the European Union after the end of the Cold War, but not the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

But now, Finland says it is ending this balance diplomacy.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto announced May 12 his nation will file an application for NATO membership. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a growing popular chorus has arisen for joining the alliance rather than maintaining neutrality.

Instead of shaking up the West, Russia’s action has produced the opposite result.

If Finland’s NATO membership is approved, Russia’s border with NATO nations will stretch twice as long.

Won’t that further reinforce Russia’s distorted victim mentality?

There is no serenity of the Moomin Valley in the European situation that only keeps becoming more worrisome.

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 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.