of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
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Hearing the Hibakusha
LCNP in Japan
Peter Weiss, Saul Mendlovitz, John Burroughs, Alyn Ware, and Anabel Dwyer all presented papers at an August 1-2 Waseda University/IALANA conference in Tokyo which probed how lawyers can contribute to nuclear disarmament, and attended an August 5 IALANA annual meeting in Hiroshima. The following week Alyn (for GENSUIKYO) and Anabel and John (GENSUIKIN) spoke as guests of Japanese peace organizations at August 6 and 9 commemorative events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The searing relevance of the Hibakushas stories provided the fulcrum for all events in and around Hiroshima and Nagasaki this year. We Americans can touch only the surface of the pain but are warmly included with unavoidable and pointed challenges to end the mutual terrors of weapons and tactics of mass destruction.
Beyond anger, shame and humiliation
Shigetoshi Iwamatsu, the Chairperson of GENSUIKIN, the Japan Congress Against A and H Bombs, discussed his personal journey at lunch after the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony.
Mr. Iwamatsu told us of his walk on August 10, 1945, from the munitions factory on the northern end of Nagasaki to his home on the other end of the city: the total devastation, charred corpses of children, his attempts to hide the scene from himself. He felt immediately shame at "failing the emperor" and in despair attempted to commit suicide. Finally Mr. Iwmatsu found the words to write to a group of US newspapers to describe what had actually happened, "beyond any concept of war." He received some sympathetic letters. But the angry responses changed the course of his reflection and action: "Have you forgotten Pearl Harbor? Have you forgotten the Japanese occupation of Korea and China?" He learned that in order for Americans to be able to recognize their wrongs, the Japanese must also recognize theirs and that resolution depends on open and forthright discussion.
Patience, tolerance, calm, communication, action
Tamiko Tomonaga and Sachie Tashima found me in Nagasaki. Last year they had come to Michigan for an August 6th Ceremony of Remembrance at the Michigan State University Chapel and presented the need for a nuclear disarmament resolution to the Lansing City Council. They both work with Hidankyo, the survivors organization to impart some of the reality and to devise actions. Ms. Tomonaga was a young nursing student in Hiroshima August 9, 1945. Nearly all her classmates died. With supplies gone she labored with the many gravely sick and burned. Ms. Tashima was two years old in Nagasaki. Most of her family has died from long and painful cancers. This year we spent an afternoon together struggling with questions. When and how can we tell our grandchildren and children the full stories so we can all gather our courage and humanity for positive and essential changes? What are the struggles for compensation and health care, the details of imparting atrocities beyond the grasp of accurate description? How do we stop our governments from escalating war fevers?
GENSUIKINS plans provide a model
The children of Nagasaki are gathering 10,000 signatures for nuclear disarmament to be delivered to the UN. "We will persist in schooling at all levels by use of the new video... We must stop Hoya corporation from providing products to the US NIF, a nuclear weapons development facility. There must be an end to nuclear power and compensation for all Hibakusha including 2d generation and those overseas."
Memorial to the victims
Over lunch in Hiroshima, a group of us talked about the meaning of the words on the Cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. In English the usual translation is: "Let all the souls here rest in peace. For we shall not repeat the evil." Masa Takubo explained that in the Japanese, the "we" is not designated as it can be and is thus left inclusive, vague or passive. We know who dropped the bombs, of course, but who "shall not repeat" can and must be us all. In addition, the word Japanese word ayamachi is not best translated into "evil" which in the Western sense certainly implies an immutable, intractable aspect of human character. Masa Takubo translates ayamachi as "mistake," a moral mistake in judgment, not trivial to be sure. As a "mistake" the bombings can be "not repeated", as "evil" the bombings are an inevitable, even likely outcome "justified" by the "evil (rogue, terrorist) other".
Anabel Dwyer is a Michigan lawyer and an LCNP Director.