Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Call for Peace from Hiroshima and Nagasaki


Nagasaki Peace Bell

At 8:15 am, on August 6, the Peace Bell at the Hiroshima Peace Park begins ringing, and people closing their eyes start praying for the victims of atomic bombings as well as for world peace without nuclear weapons. Another bell rings in Nagasaki at 11:02 am on August 9.


Last summer, I visited Nagasaki and attended the peace ceremony for the first time. Despite hot and humid weather of summer in Nagasaki, many people came to the Peace Memorial Park, including hibakusha (A-bomb survivors), politicians, students, children, and people from other countries. I was outside of the main place when I heard the peace bell ringing. With complete silence in the park, the deep sounds of the bell were only resonating as if it was carrying all the memories of the A-bomb victims and our prayers for world peace.  




Nagasaki Peace Statue

Right after the silent prayer, a number of white pigeons flied off to the sky which the right hand of the peace statue pointed out. The peace statue was established in 1955 as a symbol of the Nagasaki Peace Park. The right hand pointing out to the sky means “a threat of an atomic bomb,” the lift hand holding out horizontally means “equality” and “peace,” and the slightly opened eyes mean “a prayer for A-bomb victims.” 


The path near to the entrance of the ceremony was adorned with hundreds of thousand colorful paper cranes, each of which would be made with a prayer for world peace.       




After the ceremony, I went to the Nagasaki Peace Museum. The museum exhibits a number of collections which show the effect of the atomic bomb, including several glass bottles melted and becoming together, tiles partially melted, and a wall with a human shadow. 

a melted tile
melted glass bottles





a lunch box
Moreover, I was more shocked when I saw the collections which A-bomb survivors and victims’ relatives donated to the museum, for example daughter’s clothes, husband’s grasses, a child’s lunch box filled with carbonized rice, a watch that stopped at the time of the bombing, and so on. The explanations of such collections told that because the severe damage on their bodies made it extremely hard to tell who they were, people who tried to find the persons were able to do so only by their belongings. Each of the collections I saw at the museum silently but eloquently demonstrated how terrible and inhuman damage a single nuclear weapon can create.


At the peace museum, I was able to find the strength of the hibakusha as peace activists. When I saw pictures of wounded bodies of hibakusha, a woman volunteering to explain exhibitions told me that it was extremely hard for hibakusha to provide such pictures to the museum. She said that they did not want to show their identity as hibakusha because misunderstanding of radioactivity caused discrimination against hibakusha in Japan. According to her, some hibakusha still do not want to share their stories because it reminds them of the memory of the atomic bombing. 


Taking into consideration both physical and mental sufferings hibakusha went through, it is not so surprising to me if they would commit suicide to escape their sufferings. Rather, I think it is still remarkable if they die without committing suicide. In spite of such difficult situations, hibakusha decided to show their pictures, share their experiences, and provide personal belongings to the museum. This is because their desire for world peace without nuclear weapons is much stronger than that for their own sakes. That is why I think that hibakusha reveal the strengths of human beings. Hibakusha are “peace fighters” instead of simply being “A-bomb victims.”


Nagasaki city
Walking around beautiful Nagasaki city, I found several signs that showed how the places were affected by the bombing. Those signs reminded me of the atomic bomb was actually exploded in the sky right above my head. I felt as though this city itself were giving messages for peace.


Based on the experience in Nagasaki, I believe that none of arguments is more convincing and stronger than the voice of the hibakusha in order to rid the world of nuclear weapons because their voices can directly appeal to people’s conscience.

This year, 67th Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony was held on August 6 in Japan, where representatives from 71 countries including Britain and France for the first time. Moreover, Clifton Daniel, a grandson of then-president Henry S. Truman, also attended the ceremony.  Daniel was inspired by a story of Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year-old girl who died from cancer caused by radiation from Hiroshima atomic bombing. Later, he met Sadako’s brother Masahiro Sasaki, and he invited Daniel to Hiroshima.1


During an interview after the ceremony, Clifton Daniel said, “I'm two generations down the line, it's now my responsibility to do all I can to make sure we never use nuclear weapons again.”2


Yesterday on August 6, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation held the 18th annual Sadako Peace Day, to commemorate atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where approximately 90 people attended and listened to songs, poems, and experience by Kikuko Otake, a survivor of Hiroshima atomic bombing.


I believe that when the voice of the hibakusha keeps resonating with people around the world, nuclear weapons will be eliminated and will not be created again.



 

1 “Truman’s grandson unapologetic for WWII US nuke bombing of Japan,” RT, August 3, 2012.

2 Hiroshima appeals for nuke-free world, help for aging survivors,” Mainich Japan, August 6, 2012.

1 comment:

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