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Life in Auckland

火曜日, 9月 07, 2004

Peace Memorial in Hiroshima

koizumi
korizumi,
originally uploaded by yuutamichael.
So far the most influential day I've had in Japan was August 6th in Hiroshima; the anniversary of the atomic bombing.

Mamiko took me to the anniversary rememberance early that morning. Even in the morning the day it was hot. We listened to many people speak, including the mayor of Hiroshima whose annual duty is to request the annihilation of all nuclear weapons.

Children spoke and an eerie, Vader-esque song was played. There was a moment of silence that lasted several lifetimes.

And Koizumi, prime minister of Japan spoke.

It was an odd experience. I was quite a ways a way, barely able to make out what is, quite honestly, a nice head of hair. I couldn't understand most of what he was saying, my Japanese isn't good enough. I caught a few words, but then he was finished and no one applauded.

At that moment I knew that I was experiencing something signifigant. After every other speaker there was applause. After the Mayor spoke you could feel the energy of the crowd. But when Koizumi stepped off the stage the entire crowd sat there quietly, silently prostesting Japan's involvement in Iraq.

There's a signifigant element to Japan being part of a military force, the Peace Constitution that was set up after World War II put strong limits on the Japanese military. It's supposedly only for defence and many Japanese people feel very strongly about this. Especially Hiroshimans.

At this point I realized that Koizumi is on the way out because of his support of the Iraq war. I have a tendancy to speak politics to a lot of people as I travel, it's a subject that comes up a lot when you're an American, and not one person that I've spoken to, regardless of their age, has said they like Koizumi. And every single one of them has said that amoung their reasons is the war.

Afterwards we walked through the museum which is such a heavy journey that I couldn't speak coherrently until we were out.

We went to the Children's Shrine which is a monument dedicated to a little girl who died of leukimia ten years after the bombing. For some reason she believed that if she could fold a thousand paper cranes her life would be saved, she didn't and it wasn't. The memorial is flooded with chains and chains of paper cranes from children around the world.