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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Toronto Event

On the evening of Friday, May 15, 2009, the Toronto Article 9 Event Committee hosted an event "Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution:Bringing Peace to Today's World" at OISE Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), the University of Toronto.

The event was attended by more than 80 people, far more than we had expected. The participants were as diverse as the community of Toronto,including the students and faculties of the University of Toronto, local peace activists and journalists, and a few participants from out of town,including one person who travelled from New York just to attend this event.

The evening started with author Joy Kogawa's compelling speech about her past in which she was discriminated as an enemy alien during the WWII because of her Japanese heritage, and that Article 9 is the one thing that she can be proud of and "what is best in today’s Japan." Then we screened the film "Japan's Peace Constitution," directed by John Junkerman. This is the film that Vancouver Save Article 9 used many times to promote the knowledge about and awareness for Article 9 and its global significance between 2005 and 2006, resulting in the large increases in the membership.

After the film, I presented the current conditions surrounding Article 9on the political and popular fronts. I stated the fact that the most polls indicate that the majority of Japanese people want to keep the current Article 9, despite the ongoing government's attempts to change it and establish facts that undermine it. May 15 was also the anniversary of Okinawa's reversion from the U.S. to Japan back in 1972. Yusuke Tanaka, a journalist and a storyteller, told a story with his music, about that time he was involved with students' peace movement.

Historian Peter Kuznick talked about some of the U.S. past leaders and their involvement with decisions to develop, use and expand their nuclear arsenals, and commended hibakusha, or atomic-bomb survivors' for their contributions to the world efforts to reduce and eliminate the destructive weapons that could lead to human annihilation. Setsuko Thurlow concluded the event with her many insights ranging from her experience of atomic-bombing in Hiroshima to her ongoing dedication to peace movements and the importance of keeping and realizing Article 9.

Overall the event was well-received with comments from the participants like, "The film brings rich commentary from around the world and wonderful historical snippets and analysis," "Each speaker brought a different character to their presentation," and "It was truly inspiring. I want to get involved with the Article 9 movement, as we should educate more people about the importance of the issue." One regret about the evening was that there was not enough time for Q & A and to hear thoughts and comments from the audience.

The event was co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education/OISE, and supported by Vancouver Save Article 9,and Peace Philosophy Centre. Many thanks to the committee members and volunteers for their help, especially Tomoe Otsuki, who made it possible for this event to take place at OISE/University of Toronto.

With appreciation,

Satoko Norimatsu

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