To view articles in English only, click HERE. 日本語投稿のみを表示するにはここをクリック。点击此处观看中文稿件한국어 투고 Follow Twitter ツイッターは@PeacePhilosophy and Facebook ★投稿内に断り書きがない限り、当サイトの記事の転載は許可が必要です。このブログの右サイドバーにある Contact Us フォームで連絡ください。Re-posting from this blog requires permission unless otherwise specified. Please use the Contact Us form in the right side-bar to contact us.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

What is happening in "Peace City" Hiroshima - Report by Muneo Narusawa Part I

This is a summarized translation of journalist Muneo Narusawa's article that appeared in the August 21 Edition of Weekly Kinyobi. I thought it was important that some alarming facts reported in his article get known in the world, and with Narusawa's permission, I will post the summarized translation of his article in smaller segments, starting today. See here for Part II. 週刊金曜日」2009年8月21日号に掲載された、成澤宗男さんの記事『「田母神」を迎えて問われた「被爆地の平和」』の英文要約パート1です。

****************************************

A Report from Hiroshima, August 2009

Hiroshima Shaken by Pro-nuclear Talk
- An International Peace City Confronting Not-so-peaceful Events -

Muneo Narusawa
(Summarized translation: Satoko Norimatsu)

Right-wingers' black-painted trucks violently drove into the crowd of people in front of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Those people were protesting against the event in which Toshio Tamogami, the former Air Self Defense Force Chief of Staff was going to give a talk titled "Doubting Hiroshima's Peace." These protester held a banner that said, "Hiroshima's Anger to Tamogami."

At 6 P.M., on August 6, 2009, 64 years after the first atomic bomb was dropped, this part of Hiroshima, "hibaku city"("bombed-city")and a symbol of the international peace and anti-nuclear movement, was thrown into an uproar with confrontation between right-wingers and peace activists. Tamogami was about to give a talk at a hotel close to the Peace Park. The talk was hosted by the Hiroshima chapter of "Japan Conference (Nihon Kaigi)," the national network of ultra-conservative organizations, which were connected to the ultra-nationalist politicians like Shinzo Abe, and Tomomi Inada.

Tamogami, who stated that "The Greater East Asia War was a conspiracy by Comintern," in an essay contest organized by a real estate company, had been fired from the Chief of Staff position by then Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada.

When Tamogami's planned talk in Hiroshima was announced in June, Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima, submitted a letter of request to the Japan Conference Hiroshima and to Tamogami himself, asking them to change the date of the talk. It was expected that Tamogami, in his talk, would express support for Japan to be armed with nuclear weapons. Akiba feared that Tamogami giving such a talk would aggravate the pain and suffering of hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) and those who lost their family members in the atomic bombing.

The irate Japan Conference and Tamogami refuted that such pressure was infringement of their freedom of speech, and went ahead to hold the event on August 6th as planned. One of Tamogami's statements in the speech, "it is not illogical to state that we should arm ourselves with nuclear weapons in order not to suffer the third nuclear weapon," was welcomed by a thunderous applause in the event attended by 1,300 people.

Peace Education Destroyed

We might easily dismiss such a statement as ridiculous, just like we did his theory of the past war as Comintern's conspiracy. Can we, however, just disregard this Japan Conference Hiroshima? This organization is a Hiroshima branch of the largest right-wing organization Japan Conference, which consists of shinto shrines and other religious organizations. One of its board members is Ryozo Ishibashi, a member of Hiroshima Prefectural Assembly. Ishibashi is among those responsible for the coercion of Hinomaru, the national flag, and Kimigayo, the national anthem at schools (some teachers in Japan resist against using those national symbols at schools, as they carry the militaristic and imperialistic history of the war-time Japan).

Here are some other examples of the damage that Ishibashi brought to Hiroshima's education.

1) Back in 1997, 95% of the elementary and junior high schools in Hiroshima had year-long peace education curriculum. By 2004, it was down to 37.5%.

2) "Peace Calendars," which the Hiroshima Education Institute (Hiroshima Kyoiku Kenkyujo) had developed and had always been posted on the walls of Hiroshima schools, have been all removed. The summer workbook by the Institute, which used to be adopted by 90% of the Hiroshima schools, also disappeared since 2006.

3) School field trips to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park have dramatically decreased. One symbolic incident is that this vice-principal at an elementary school prohibited making and donation of paper cranes to the Children's Peace Monument (to remember Sasaki Sadako, a Hiroshima child who died of leukemia from the atomic bomb radiation), for the fear that such activity would "entangle children with peace activism."

4) Back in 1995, 55.7% of the elementary school children were able to say the time, the day, and the year when the Hiroshima A-bomb was dropped. The figure was down to 49.6% by 2005. With junior high school children, the figure in 1995 was 74.7%, and it was down to 67.7%. Osamu Ishibashi, Secretary General of Hiroshima Prefectural Teachers' Union says, "There is little hope for saving the year-long peace education
curriculum now. We can hardly hold faculty meetings about it. All the peace education materials are checked by the school principals, who just follow the policy of the Board of Education. The school curriculum has also been designed now so that it is physically impossible to spare any time for peace education."

To be continued.

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:01 am

    Thank you for this report which is so painfully important. I am so sorry to hear this disappointing news, but will pass along the fact that Japan is loosing its prophetic edge and is no longer committed solidly to peace, even in its education of its youth. Are we then "de-volving" into the fearful tribalism of the past that evoked so much bloody conflict? Have we learned so little since WWII? Must nationalism and ethnocentricism remain our original sins forever?
    Respectfully, Fr. Bob Cushing
    Pastor with Pax Christi Georgia, USA

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your comment, Father Bob.

    When this article was written, it was just before the landslide defeat of Liberal Democratic Party in the General Election of August 30th. LDP was behind all these nationalistic trends in the recent education, symbolized by Shinzo Abe's changing of the Fundamental Law of Education. Hopefully with the new DPJ-led government, things like reduction in peace education and promotion of patriotism in education will subside. However, it will be hard to gain back what has been lost. Educators and policy makers in Hiroshima should know the global consequences of such moves. If we don't even teach the children of Hiroshima about Hiroshima, how would we expect children in other areas to?

    Satoko

    ReplyDelete
  3. Satoko,

    Thank you very much for translating and summarizing this crucial article (and for all your communications at your blog).

    I am linking to this article and your blog.

    I still believe Hibakusha keep their prophetic, truth-telling power alive--a bond they share with their fellow nuclear "test" bomb Hibakusha worldwide. And second and third generations are renewing the peace mission of the WWII generation.--as we see in the Global Article 9 Movement.

    But it is shocking to realize the erosion created by ultra-rightists. I knew that in certain localities (such as Tokyo) they have more power than elsewhere. I did not realize the extent of ultrarightists in Hiroshima--I wonder if they are descendants of Hibakusha.

    Thank you again.

    Jean Downey, Kyoto Journal

    ReplyDelete