Monday, August 26, 2013

Keiji Nakazawa in Barefoot Gen's Hiroshima: "I decided to use manga to confront the Bomb."

Trailer from director Yuko Ishida's Barefoot Gen''s Hiroshima (Hadashi no Gen ga Mita Hiroshima) a documentary film in which the camera man (Koshiro Otsu) follows "Barefoot Gen" creator Keiji Nakazawa as he visits neighborhoods throughout Hiroshima and recalls living through the nuclear explosion when he was six-years-old.

The film opened in Tokyo on August 6, 2011, and Nakazawa died of lung cancer a year later, on December 19, 2012.

Roger Pulvers' wonderful  film review at  the JT connects the nuclear radioactive dots between Hiroshima in 1945 and Fukushima in 2011:
When the bomb dropped in 1945, Nakazawa was a 6-year-old, first-year pupil at Kanzaki National Elementary School, which was a mere 1.2 km from ground zero. Luckily, on his way into school, he lingered by the wall adjacent to the front gate to speak with someone, and that wall saved his life...

Nakazawa’s father, sister and brother...were all crushed by pillars and beams, and killed. His father had been a vocal opponent of Japan’s war of aggression, and he had spent more than a year in prison as a result. The family had been ostracized by the community. This is a bitter irony of all indiscriminate bombing, since it murders many who are not only blameless non-combatants but also proponents of peace.

Nakazawa never forgot what he saw. He turned his personal experience and that of the people of Hiroshima into a series of manga that was carried in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump for 12 years from 1973. The story of Barefoot Gen kept the plight of the victims of the bomb and its radiation in the minds of citizens of the nation that had become the most intimate ally of the country that caused that holocaust, the United States.

This fact led the Japanese government to isolate the issue as something local — to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the other city atom-bombed by the U.S. three days after Hiroshima — as opposed to national. In addition, the vigorous pursuit of “atoms for peace,” an American initiative to promote nuclear power spearheaded in the early 1950s by President Dwight Eisenhower further divorced the radiation spread by the bombs from its possible spread by reactors generating electricity all around Japan.

It is thanks to Nakazawa, and eminent authors such as Kenzaburo Oe, Hisashi Inoue and, most recently, Haruki Murakami — all of whom have taken up the nuclear tragedies of 1945 — that the dangers of radiation lingering in our bodies, our soil, our water, and in the air, are now finally being understood by the Japanese people.

However, a truly remarkable aspect of the story of Barefoot its message of optimism and hope. The hero, little Gen, stunned by the devastation and death surrounding him, says, “I’m going to live, to live! I’m going to live through this, you’ll see!”

In those pages...the stench of destruction are everywhere, just as in the prefectures of Tohoku most badly affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. Yet Gen does not give up hope...

He goes on to point out that the gen in the name is the same character as that in the word genki, which means full of vitality and strong of mettle...

In his message to children, Nakazawa states, “If you come to feel that you wish for a world without war and without atomic bombs, for a world where peace is priceless...then the subject of this film, namely Keiji Nakazawa, will be content.”
Motofumi Asai's in-depth interview, "Barefoot Gen, the Atomic Bomb and I: The Hiroshima Legacy Nakazawa Keiji"i, translated by Richard H. Minear at APJ: Japan Focus explores the anti-war beliefs of Nakazawa's father as well as those of the writer himself who counsels us to be resilient and persistent in the support of respect of life, human dignity, and an ethos of peace:
In order to effect change, each person has to work away at it. I’m a cartoonist, so cartoons are my only weapon. I think everyone has to appeal in whatever position they’re in.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we gradually enlarged our imaginations! We have to believe in that possibility. Doubt is extremely strong, but we have to feel that change is possible. Inspire ourselves. And like Auschwitz, Hiroshima too must sing out more and more about human dignity.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Barefoot Gen anime film online in Japan through Aug. 31; debate continues over ban of anti-war manga series in Matsue

The energetic public debate over the decision by Matsue (Shimane Prefecture) Board of Education to ban the manga series "Barefoot Gen reflects the vibrancy of anti-war attitudes in Japan, a widespread desire of the majority of Japanese citizens to admit and atone for Japanese Imperial wartime atrocities, and to witness for the abolition of uranium and nuclear weapons.

The series depicts realistic images of the entire Pacific War, including Japanese Imperial beheadings and rapes of Chinese people, as well as the US nuclear bombings of Japanese civilians and other wartime suffering.

The controversy has generated an outpouring of support and renewed interest in "Barefoot Gen" whose author passed away in December of last year. Our friends at New York Peace Film Festival report that the anime film adaptation of the manga series, Barefoot Gen,  is available to watch online in Japan until Aug. 31.


Synopsis: Barefoot Gen a 1983 war drama based on Keiji Nakazawa's manga series. Director Mori Masaki depicts the final days of the Pacific War and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima from the point of view of a child, Gen Nakaoka, who is caught in the explosion's aftermath.  The film begins and ends with boat symbolism reminiscent of Toro Nagasahi (ceremony during which lit paper lanterns are released on a river to remember the dead).

The story is set during the final days of the Second World War.  Gen's malnourished family struggle survive in Hiroshima. The family wonders why their city has been spared from US napalm (jellied gasoline) firebombings that have destroyed most of Japan's other cities. They sense something is wrong even though they could never imagine that  Hiroshima  had been chosen as a "pristine" target to test one of the two new American nuclear bombs.

On the morning of August 6, Gen, after promising his brother he will take him to the river to play with a toy boat, makes his way to school. Overhead, he notices a single B-29 bomber.  At home, his family watch as a large number of ants ominously enter their home.  Gen drops a pebble he is playing with, and, as he bends to pick it up, a flash of white light erupts in the sky. The eyes of people around him begin to melt. At home, Gen's house collapses, burying his family alive. Gen escaped injury from the flash because he was bent downward in front of a  stone wall, but he is also buried under rubble.

The nuclear blast vaporizes people and destroys most of the buildings throughout Hiroshima. Burned and mutilated people wander through streets looking for water and help. After digging out of the rubble, Gen returns home to find his mother has survived, but his father, sister and little brother are trapped under the ruins of their house. As a firestorm approaches, Gen's father tells Gen they must leave to protect his mother and her unborn child. As they obey Gen's father and leave, they hear their family's screams as they burn to death.

His mother gives birth to a baby girl they name Tomoko; Gen searches for food and help but finds neither in a city filled only with the dead and injured. He finds a mother with a dead baby who shares her breast milk with Gen's infant sister.  People start to show signs of radiation illness: defecating and vomiting blood; losing hair.

After days of searching for food, Gen finds some rice and vegetables in a storehouse.  On August 16, they dig up the skulls of their dead family at their burned home. They're told Tokyo has finally surrendered.  But peace has come too late for them (and many millions of other people throughout the Asia-Pacific, as well as Okinawa and the rest of mainland Japan).  They take in an orphaned child, Ryuta, whom they meet when he tries to steal their food.

To earn money to buy milk for Tomoko, Gen and Ryuta take a job, caring for a dying, embittered man who, in the end, expresses gratitude for their care.  But, of course, Gen's infant sister dies anyway: the odds are stacked against survival in Hiroshima.

As grass and plants start to recover, so does Gen; his hair grows back.  Gen recalls his father's advice: no matter how beaten down, never give up. He decides to fulfill his promise to his brother and builds another boat. Two weeks after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Gen, his mother, and Ryuta go to the river, where they light a candle on top of the boat and release it in the water. They pray as the boat sails away.


"‘Barefoot Gen’ pulled as anti-war images strike too close to home?" (Jun Hongo, JT, Aug. 21, 2013)

"Board’s request to restrict ‘Barefoot Gen’ assailed" (Aug. 22, 2013, Kyodo, JT)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wikileaks: Tokyo Rejected Suggestion of Obama visit to Hiroshima in 2009

Thanks to Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks, we know Tokyo nixed the suggestion of a presidential visit to Hiroshima in 2009.

This was a year of heightened hope after Obama's April 5 "Prague Speech" (in which the US president called for a world free of nuclear weapons).  Hibakusha and their supporters campaigned for an Obama visit to Hiroshima — to spark the nuclear abolition movement.  However, some in Tokyo wanted to dampen "expectations":
VFM [Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs] Yabunaka pointed out that the Japanese public  will have high expectations toward President Obama's visit to  Japan in November, as the President enjoys an historic level  of popularity among the Japanese people.  Anti-nuclear groups, in particular, will speculate whether the President  would visit Hiroshima in light of his April 5 Prague speech  on non-proliferation.  He underscored, however, that both governments must temper the public's expectations on such issues, as the idea of President Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic bombing during World War II is a "non-starter."

Friday, August 23, 2013

WikiLeaks: Washington and Tokyo plotted secret whaling deal; targeted Sea Shepherd in 2010

Thanks to Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks, we know (via John Vidal, environment editor at The Guardian):
WikiLeaks: Secret whaling deal plotted by US and Japan: American diplomats proposed Japan reduce whaling in exchange for US help cracking down on the anti-whaling activists Sea Shepherd, leaked cables reveal

Japan and the US proposed to investigate and act against international anti-whaling activists from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as part of a political deal to reduce whaling in Antarctic waters.

Four confidential cables [dated from 2009 to 2010] from the US embassy in Tokyo and the state department in Washington, released by WikiLeaks, show US and Japanese diplomats secretly negotiating a compromise agreement ahead of a key meeting last year of the International Whaling Commission, the body that regulates international whaling.

The American proposal would have forced Japan to reduce the number of whales that Japan killed each year in the Antarctic whale sanctuary in return for the legal right to hunt other whales off its own coasts. In addition, the US proposed to ratify laws that would "guarantee security in the seas" – a reference to acting against groups such as Sea Shepherd that have tried to physically stop whaling.

The US proposal was eventually shot down by Britain and the EU in June 2010, but the cables show that the Sea Shepherd group had become a political embarrassment to Japan after stopping its whaling fleet reaching its annual quota of whale killed for several years.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wikileaks: Tokyo warned in 2008 about earthquake threat to nuclear plants; "pattern of secrecy and denial"

Thanks to Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, we know that Tokyo was warned in 2008  about the earthquake threat to Japan's inadequately designed, aging nuclear plants:
Japan earthquake: Japan warned over nuclear plants, WikiLeaks cables show (The Daily Telegraph, March 15, 2011):

Japan was warned more than two years ago by the international nuclear watchdog that its nuclear power plants were not capable of withstanding powerful earthquakes, leaked diplomatic cables reveal.

An official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in December 2008 that safety rules were out of date and strong earthquakes would pose a "serious problem" for nuclear power stations...

Warnings about the safety of nuclear power plants in Japan, one of the most seismologically active countries in the world, were raised during a meeting of the G8's Nuclear Safety and Security Group in Tokyo in 2008.

A US embassy cable obtained by the WikiLeaks website and seen by The Daily Telegraph quoted an unnamed expert who expressed concern that guidance on how to protect nuclear power stations from earthquakes had only been updated three times in the past 35 years.

The document states: "He [the IAEA official] explained that safety guides for seismic safety have only been revised three times in the last 35 years and that the IAEA is now re-examining them.

"Also, the presenter noted recent earthquakes in some cases have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants, and that this is a serious problem that is now driving seismic safety work."

The cables also disclose how the Japanese government opposed a court order to shut down another nuclear power plant in western Japan because of concerns it could not withstand powerful earthquakes.

The court ruled that there was a possibility local people might be exposed to radiation if there was an accident at the plant, which was built to out of date specifications and only to withstand a "6.5 magnitude" earthquake. Last Friday's earthquake, 81 miles off the shore of Japan, was a magnitude 9.0 tremor.

However, a cable from March 2006 reported that the court's concerns were not shared by the country's nuclear safety agency.

It says: "Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency believes the reactor is safe and that all safety analyses were appropriately conducted."

The Government successfully overturned the ruling in 2009.
A Wikileaks diplomatic cable published at The Guardian on March 14, 2011 further revealed:
...politician Taro Kono, a high-profile member of Japan's lower house, tells US diplomats that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry – the Japanese government department responsible for nuclear energy – has been "covering up nuclear accidents and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry".

In 2008, Kono told them: "The ministries were trapped in their policies, as officials inherited policies from people more senior to them, which they could then not challenge." He mentioned the dangers of natural disasters in the context of nuclear waste disposal, citing Japan's "extensive seismic activity, and abundant groundwater, and [he] questioned if there really was a safe place to store nuclear waste in the 'land of volcanoes'."

"What we are seeing follows a clear pattern of secrecy and denial," said Paul Dorfman, co-secretary to the Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters, a UK government advisory committee disbanded in 2004.

"The Japanese government has always tended to underplay accidents. At the moment the Japanese claims of safety are not to be believed by anyone..."

The Japanese authorities and nuclear companies have been implicated in a series of cover-ups. In 1995, reports of a sodium leak and fire at Japan's Monju fast breeder reactor were suppressed and employees were gagged. In 2002, the chairman and four executives of Tepco, the company which owns the stricken Fukushima plant, resigned after reports that safety records were falsified.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chelsea Manning: "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."

Chelsea Manning's  Aug. 21, 2013 statement, posted at Common Dreams:
The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war.  We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.  It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing.  It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity.

We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians.  Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture.  We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government.  And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power.  When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few.  I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States.  It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people.  When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
US Army Private Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning leaked military and government documents to Wikileaks, including the "Collateral Murder" video, which showed a US Apache helicopter crew killing unarmed Iraqi civilians, including children and a 22-year-old Reuters photographer in 2007.  The soldiers laughed at their downed, crawling victims, trying to escape.  The helicopter crew also killed people trying to rescue the wounded. Under the Geneva Convention, these are war crimes.

The release of this video came shortly after the US military admitted special forces troops attempted to cover up the killings of three Afghan women in a February 2007 raid by removing the bullets from their bodies.

Manning's revelations also resulted in the "Afghan War Diary," published by WikiLeaks on July 25, 2010.  These documents revealed some of the hundreds of US (and Allied) killings and woundings of Afghan civilians.  They also revealed what can only be described as a culture of military sexual violence: US soldiers and US military contractors routinely committed rape, including upon children, with impunity.  One US contractor, DynCorp, supplied "peacekeepers" for the UN in Bosnia, where some of them engaged in trafficking, sexual slavery, torture and rape of women and children. Employees of the same company  also engaged in child prostitution in Afghanistan.  (This year, the Obama administration sent DynCorp to recruit police in Haiti, where UN "peacekeepers" have committed sexual assaults on children.)

"The Iraq War Logs" detailed US military and US contractor killings of civilians and also the use of torture.

The release of US diplomatic cables, known as "Cablegate" revealed some of  Washington's and Tokyo's recent machinations in Okinawa and that Tokyo was warned about earthquake threats to nuclear plant safety in 2008.h in U.S. History
reveals that concern about human rights abuses motivated Manning's actions.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Steve Nguyen: Hiroshima Revisited

In public imagery, both Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been fixated in time, at the respective moments the two cities were nuclear bombed.

Linda Hoaglund's recent film, Things Left Behind. a cinematic exploration of  photographer Miyako Ishiuchi's exhibition of the same title,  pierces through to the other side of 8:15 a.m., August 6, 1945, to explore (and humanize) the lives of the people who died on that day.

In Hiroshima Revisited Steve Nguyen breaks through to the other side of that moment: the ongoing process of rebuilding and healing in the resurrected city.  This beautiful, sensitive short film might be considered a personal sequel to  HIBAKUSHA, an animated documentary/drama featuring his friend, Kaz Suyeishi, now an 84-year-old woman, who "recalls her most vivid and horrific experiences as an 18-year-old Japanese American student during the morning of August 6, 1945 when the atomic bomb dropped on her hometown."

This look at Hiroshima today brings home not only the striving of Hiroshima survivors and their descendants to rebuild their city and lives, but also the struggle of survivors of manmade annihilation throughout our world (Guernica, Chonqing, Warsaw, and many hundreds of cities, regions...)  who have similarly sought to restore what has been destroyed and broken by war.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Artists hold 'thousand-stitch belt' exhibit to encourage war memory, promote peace

Hoping to see their men return home safely from battle, women in wartime Japan would often send soldiers off with a protective amulet called a "thousand-stitch belt" -- or "senninbari" -- a cloth wrap that, as its name suggests, featured 1,000 stitches sewn by 1,000 different women.

To prevent the tradition from fading into history, a Tokyo-based women's artist collective known as "Stand Up Sisters" is holding a "needle and thread for peace" ("Ohariko Project") exhibition at the Hako Gallery in Tokyo's Yoyogi-Uehara district. In addition to educating younger generations about the existence of the "senninbari" tradition, the exhibit also offers visitors a chance to participate in hands-on stitching -- thereby encouraging people to consider history in a more personalized way.

Miho Tsujii, a member of the collective and one of the event organizers, explained that putting together the exhibition was a challenge -- if for no other reason than the fact that almost no information on the practice was available.

"We almost never hear the word 'senninbari' today, but when we do, it is usually surrounded with an air of secrecy," she explained. "This is likely due to the fact that war memories are a very painful topic for people to discuss -- and that the subject also tends to be tinged with accusations of complicity in the war."

Tsujii added that most women likely presented the soldiers with the belts because they wanted them to come home safely -- although some may have done so hoping that the men would die honorably in battle.

"This is just speculation, however, since there has been so little material handed down about 'senninbari' history that we really just don't know for sure," she said. The practice is said to have begun around the time of the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, and Tsujii added that while the government eventually organized the initiative into a full-scale war support effort, its origins were likely rooted in pre-modern Shintoism.

Stand Up Sisters has held various exhibitions focused on the common theme of encouraging women's empowerment and self-expression through art.

Following last December's return to power of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe -- known to support creating an official Japanese military, and also the target of feminist criticism during his first term on 2006-07 for his conservative views toward women -- the members of the collective decided to organize an exhibition that would feature the keywords "women" and "war." It was then that they hit on "senninbari."

"In doing our research on the history of the practice, we also came across the technique of "tamadome," or "knot-stitching," which was common among our grandmothers' generation," commented collective member Ayumi Taguchi. "This fit in with our theme of passing down techniques that may be lost to future generations if young people do not learn them."

Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to sit down at the gallery's communal table and stitch for as long as they like -- and in whatever style they want to -- using the available cloth, needles and thread, while also enjoying snacks and relaxed conversation with the artists and other attendees.

"Participating in this project was a fascinating experience," commented local resident Chika Hirata after stopping by the exhibition. "I found the stitchwork to be extremely relaxing -- and I also found myself imagining that women in wartime probably felt a similar sense of calm from concentrating on this kind of handiwork. It must have given them some relief from the complex thoughts that were likely racing through their minds at the time."

"Each of the women who engaged in 'senninbari' had her own unique story to tell," commented Stand Up Sisters member Nao Ushikubo, who also cited members' concern with political matters as a motivating factor in organizing the exhibition.

"With all of the talk in the news regarding constitutional revision and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (free trade talks), we began to fear that Japan was possibly headed down a similar path as it was prior to the First World War, which we found extremely disturbing," she said. "Even this week, around the anniversary of (World War II's) end, the Japanese media is full of reports about how our country is building up its defense capabilities. Clearly, the majority of people here don't realize that this may lead to war, which is really disheartening and frightening."

The gallery is also hosting several related exhibitions in addition to the "needle and thread for peace" workshop, including postcards from the Puerto Rico-based "Honoring our Black Grandmothers" project encouraging island residents to take pride in their racial identity; a display of T-shirts designed by street children in India through the Tara Trust project that will eventually be given to children in Fukushima affected by the nuclear disaster; and sales of handcrafted cloth figures designed by local homeless women through the "Nora" project.

The exhibition is ongoing at the Hako Gallery in Yoyogi Uehara from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Aug. 18, 2013. For further details, see the gallery website at

From the event announcement:
* * * One Thousand Needles Project * * *

During the wars in the last century, a vast majority of women in Japan took part in making amulets to protect soldiers from bullets with thousand stitches on a piece of cloth.

This practice of “Senninbari (one thousand needles)” is hardly known today, or if it is said, it seems to burn the lips. It often faces dismissal for the accusation that it constituted women’s participation in war. It carries too much pain otherwise.

Handwork has always been part of human life. It has been handed down from one generation to another throughout the world, as a tool for living and community connections. Some handworks were born out of sorrow and war.

Handworks shape the soul of their creators. Perhaps we can find ourselves in those works and see how we are living today.

Diversity. Dialogue. Justice. Transparency. Human Rights. Education. Love. Environment. Taking care of oneself. Making a living. Safe and healthy food.

A piece of cloth can be strengthened the more stitches you add onto it.

Similarly, your hopes can can gain strength by connecting with others. Your actions will not end here. This is an endless relay of hope that continues to shift  its shape.

Handworks will resonate across generations, nationalities, ethnicities, religions and differences.
An additional event will be held at the Ogatsu O-link House community center in Ogatsu, Ishinomaki City, from May 1-9, 2015.

-- Kimberly Hughes

Monday, August 12, 2013

Women of Fukushima: Our Tohoku Films

Via Women of Fukushima:
Our Tohoku Films. For people who may have missed some of our Tohoku stories, here they are. Big thanks to Jeffrey Jousan, the common link between all of these films.

Then and Now

Women of Fukushima

Alone in the Zone

Aspri Building Hope in Fukushima

Curtains of Love for Otsuchi

Playground of Hope - Ishinomaki

Playground of Hope Japanese Version

Kida Presentation UN April 29th, 2013

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Global Agent Orange Awareness Day

Agent Orange survivor Phuong folding paper cranes with Toshiko Tanaka,
atomic bomb survivor from Hiroshima. Photo courtesy of Lee, Jung Yong. 

Via Rose Welsch of Peace Boat, Global Article 9, and US for Okinawa:
August 10th marks the day in 1961 when the U.S. began aerial spraying of toxic herbicides over Vietnam.

Tainted with dioxin, Agent Orange not only sickened Vietnamese people, it also poisoned U.S. service members who were exposed to it. Its effects did not stop when the war ended--second and even third generations of survivors have experienced a wide range of effects, such as birth defects and cancer.

In total, more than 3 million people have been affected by it and related chemicals. Unknown to many, Canadians become some of the first victims of these toxic chemicals when they were sprayed and tested at a large base called Gagetown before being used in Vietnam. Moreover, because U.S. military bases in Okinawa, Korea and Guam were used during the war in Vietnam, people were also exposed to Agent Orange in these places. Laos was also sprayed with Agent Orange, and Cambodia was affected by it when the spraying drifted from Vietnam over its border.

On this day, we also call for individuals, civil society, and governments to work together to create a culture of peace around the world to prevent similar tragedies from being repeated.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Nagasaki Appeal for Peace and Nuclear-Free World - Aug. 9, 2013

Tomihisa Taue, mayor of Nagasaki, delivers "Nagasaki Appeal for Peace and Nuclear-Free World" on Aug. 9, 2013.  
Sixty-eight years ago today, a United States bomber dropped a single atomic bomb directly over Nagasaki. The bomb’s heat rays, blast winds, and radiation were immense, and the fire that followed engulfed the city in flames into the night. The city was instantly reduced to ruins. Of the 240,000 residents in the city, around 150,000 were afflicted and 74,000 of them died within the year. Those who survived have continued to suffer from a higher incidence of contracting leukemia, cancer, and other serious radiation-induced diseases. Even after 68 years, they still live in fear and suffer deep psychological scars.

Humankind invented and produced this cruel weapon. Humankind has even gone so far as using nuclear weapons on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Humankind has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests, contaminating the earth. Humankind has committed a great many mistakes. This is why we must on occasion reaffirm the pledges we have made in the past that must not be forgotten and start anew.

I call on the Japanese government to consider once again that Japan is the only country to have suffered a nuclear bombing. At the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, held in Geneva in April 2013, several countries proposed a Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons to which 80 countries expressed their support. South Africa and other countries that made this proposal asked Japan to support and sign the statement.

However, the Japanese government did not sign it, betraying the expectations of global society. If the Japanese government cannot support the remark that “nuclear weapons [should never be] used again under any circumstances,” this implies that the government would approve of their use under some circumstances. This stance contradicts the resolution that Japan would never allow anyone else to become victims of a nuclear bombing.

We are also concerned about the resumption of negotiations concerning the Japan-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. Cooperating on nuclear power with India, who has not signed the NPT, would render the NPT meaningless as its main tenet is to stop the increase of the number of nuclear-weapon states. Japan’s cooperation with India would also provide North Korea, which withdrew from the NPT and is committed to nuclear development, with an excuse to justify its actions, hindering efforts toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

I call on the Japanese government to consider once again that Japan is the only country to have suffered a nuclear bombing. I call on the Japanese government to enact the Three Non-Nuclear Principles into law and take proactive measures to exert its leadership by creating a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, thus fulfilling its duty as the only nation to have suffered an atomic bombing.

Under the current NPT, nuclear-weapon states have a duty to make earnest efforts towards nuclear disarmament. This is a promise they’ve made to the rest of the world. In April of 2009, United States President Barack Obama expressed his desire to seek a nuclear-free world during a speech in Prague. In June this year, President Obama stated in Berlin that he would work towards further reduction of nuclear arsenals, saying, “So long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.” Nagasaki supports President Obama’s approach.

However, there are over 17,000 nuclear warheads still in existence of which at least 90% belong to either the United States or Russia. President Obama, President Putin, please commit your countries to a speedy, drastic reduction of your nuclear arsenal. Rather than envisioning a nuclear-free world as a faraway dream, we must quickly decide to solve this issue by working towards the abolition of these weapons, fulfilling the promise made to global society.

There are things that we citizens can do to help realize a nuclear-free world other than entrusting the work to leaders of nations only. In the preface of the Constitution of Japan, it states that the Japanese people have “resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government.” This statement reflects the firm resolution of the Japanese people to work for world peace. In order not to forget this original desire for peace, it is essential to impart the experiences of war and atomic devastation to succeeding generations. We must continue to remember war has taken many lives and caused the physical and mental anguish of a great many more survivors. We must not forget the numerous cruel scenes of the war in order to prevent another one.

People of younger generations, have you ever heard the voices of the hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombings? Have you heard them crying out, “No more Hiroshimas, no more Nagasakis, no more wars, and no more hibakusha”?

You will be the last generation to hear their voices firsthand. Listen to their voices to learn what happened 68 years ago under the atomic cloud. Listen to their voices to find out why they continue to appeal for nuclear abolition. You will find that, despite much hardship, they continue to fight for nuclear abolition for the sake of future generations. Please consider whether or not you will allow the existence of nuclear weapons in the world today and in the future world of your children. Please talk to your friends about this matter. It is you who will determine the future of this world.

There are many things that we can do as global citizens. Nearly 90% of Japanese municipalities have made nuclear-free declarations to demonstrate their residents’ refusal to become victims of a nuclear attack and their resolution to work for world peace. The National Council of Japan Nuclear Free Local Authorities, comprising of these municipalities, celebrates its 30th anniversary this month. If any members of such municipalities plan to take any action in accordance with the declaration they have made, they shall have the support of the National Council, as well as that of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

In Nagasaki, the Fifth Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will be held this coming November. At this assembly, residents will play the key role in disseminating the message for nuclear abolition to people around the world.

Meanwhile, the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. has yet to be resolved and radioactive contamination continues to spread. In an instant, this accident deprived many residents in Fukushima of their peaceful daily lives. They are still forced to live without a clear vision as to their future. The residents of Nagasaki truly hope for the earliest possible recovery of Fukushima and will continue to support the people of Fukushima.

Last month, Mr. Senji Yamaguchi, a hibakusha who called for nuclear abolition and for better support for hibakusha, passed away. The number of hibakusha continues to decrease with their average age now exceeding seventy-eight. Once again, I call for the Japanese government to provide better support for these aging hibakusha.

We offer our sincere condolences for the lives lost in the atomic bombings, and pledge to continue our efforts towards realizing a nuclear-free world, hand-in-hand with the citizens of Hiroshima.

Tomihisa Taue
Mayor of Nagasaki
August 9, 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Filmmaker Oliver Stone in Hiroshima: "The specter of war has returned to Asia....The spirit of World War II is being revived..."

Video of part of American filmmaker Oliver Stone's speech in Hiroshima (he's traveling with Peter Kuznick, nuclear historian at American University and Satoko Norimatsu, co-author of Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the US.)

Two years before she helped found the Network for Okinawa in 2010 (US-based network of environmentalist, faith-based NGOs and diverse think tanks, including the Institute for Policy Studies),  Satoko said she wanted to include Okinawa in the annual American University Hiroshima-Nagasaki summer study tour.  This year they're doing that.

In this clip at IWJ (Independent Web Journal), Stone challenges Tokyo's lip service to "nuclear abolition" and "peace" with his sobering observations about the ongoing Washington-Tokyo-Asia-Pacific military build-up:
...Obama's resupplied Japan with stealth fighters. Japan has the 4th largest military in the world. No one admits that. You call yourself a Self Defense Force...You're the 4th largest military in the world, after Great Britain and China. The US is your full accomplice in this. You are some of our best buyers. We make you not only pay for the weapons we sell you, but we make you pay for the wars we fight. We made you pay for Kuwait...Iraq...

We are bullies. You're facing a dragon of great size and the dragon is not China, it's the U.S.  Four days ago, I was in Jeju, Korea, where South destroying a UNESCO World Heritage site, destroying the land and inhabitants...they're going to build the harbor so deep so the George Washington, the largest aircraft carrier in the world, carrying all kinds of nuclear missiles, is going to sail to Jeju. South Korea - armed to the teeth. Japan - armed to the teeth...Philippines...we're back in Subic Bay...

We are looking for arrangements in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and I heard India...India was always non-aligned...This is very dangerous...This is like NATO. It began as a defense arrangement and became an offense arrangement...

This year, the specter of war has returned to Asia...The spirit of World War II is being revived...So you can talk all you want about peace and nuclear abolition but the poker game is run by the U.S.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Peace March: "No More Hiroshima. No More Nagasaki. No More Fukushima. No More Hibakusha."

Last Day of the Peace March - Arrival in Hiroshima on August 4, 2013

This year, around 1,000 people started the march from Tokyo including Malaya Fabros, nuclear-free activist from the Philippines.

Her insightful, lively, soulful "Peace March Journal" is filled with great photos and video clips.  A wonderful introduction to Gensuikyo  (The Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs), the history of the Peace March, the old Tokaido Highway (Edo-era road that connects Tokyo with Kyoto), Japan's diverse local cultures of towns and regions, and some of many Japanese people who want to atone for the destruction and suffering caused by Japan during the Pacific War, maintain the Japanese Peace Constitution, and deepen efforts for a nuclear-free, war-free world:
The Peace Marchers have arrived in Hiroshima Peace Park this August 4!

The Peace March is an annual march in Japan since 1958. Every May 6 to August 4, the Peace Marchers call for peace and nuclear weapons abolition in the streets of Japan.

So What is the Peace March?

In 1958, a monk from Hiroshima decided to walk from Hiroshima all the way to Tokyo to attend the World Conference. Back then, the World Conference was usually held in Tokyo. He started alone and eventually many people joined as he passed through different cities, wards and prefectures along the way...From then on, the Peace March was held every year. There has never been a gap year. Ever.

There had been some revisions from 1958. The World Conference is now held annually at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At present, there are several courses of the Peace March. The quite popular one is the Tokyo Hiroshima Course. There is also a course starting from up north in Hokkaido all the way to Tokyo. Another one is from Okinawa to Nagasaki...

As you can see from the schedule and the courses, the Peace March is a daily demonstration on the streets almost all over Japan to campaign for the end of nuclear weapons and for a real lasting peace around the world...From what I saw so far as today, the Peace March is a strong and creative symbol of the Japanese people’s perservering, unrelenting and patient struggle to make sure that the wrongs made from their past would not be repeated in their country and anywhere else in the world.
More excerpts:
Day 49 - June 23, 2013, Mukou City, Nagaoka-kyo City, Hachiman City

Today’s course passed through Mukou City, Nagaokakyo City, Oyamazaki Town and finished at Hachiman City Hall. ...

I would like to share that the Hokkaido-Tokyo Course of Prace March is currently in Fukushima...Many of its constituents still have not recovered and many of them are still in fear of exposure to radiation.

The bigger challenge is that the government is not giving the nation a real picture of the damage in Fukushima. The residents have monitored radiation levels in their areas and saw alarming results in contrast to what is actually published. The victims of radiation in Fukushima are beginning to be the new batch of hibakushas. Many members of the peace movement in Japan, especially the Hibakushas from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are expressing their support to victims in Fukushima. This is why our popular plea in the Peace March and World Conference has been revised to this:

No More Hiroshima.
No More Nagasaki.
No More Fukushima.
No More Hibakusha.

Day 33, June 7: Iwakura, Ichinomiya and Konan City, Aichi Prefecture

The deputy mayor [Toshiyuki Akahori] shared with us the several peace activities of Iwakura City... Iwakura City’s Peace Declaration was signed on 1985 and they have always been a nuclear-free zone...The city hall currently employs solar power, energy recycling, and water saving methods.

Day 21, May 26: Fujieda City Hall to Kanaya Local Community Center

...On July 26 1945, several days before the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, sample bombs equivalent to that of Fatman (the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima) were dropped by US in Shimada city...It should also be noted that carpet bombs and these test bombs sprayed over many parts of Japan also heavily devastated the nation...

Day 34, June 8: Komaki City and Kasugai City, Aichi Prefecture

...Mizuno san is a hibakusha...Despite what she has gone through from the past, she is now very healthy and active in Aichi Prefecture’s Peace Movement. She is now 90-years-old but looks way younger...

Before the party ended, Mizuno san shared her insights. She said that the Hibakushas fought very hard for.. compensation by the government...

She also shared her compassion for the victims in Fukushima. They are also considered hibakusha, but the government has not yet considered them official hibakushas so they cannot claim free medical support. The voice of victims in Fukushima is one of the latest issues supported by the Japanese peace movement...

Day 44, June 18: Omi Hachiman City

Japan Gensuikyo launched its worldwide signature campaign several years ago to show to the world leaders and everyone that many people want a nuclear free world... From what I remember, they have collected around 2 million signatures already and are aiming for more...

Wherever you are, you can join the signature campaign by visiting the Japan Gensuikyo website:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sister Megan Rice, facing prison for nonviolent anti-nuclear protest: "Our lovely planet is under desperate, imminent sabotage"

Washington Post interview with Sister Megan Rice 
regarding the act of civil disobedience for which she now faces criminal charges.

Sister Megan Rice, an 83 year-old nun who helped conceptualize and organize the OccupyNukes coordinated day of actions on August 6, 2012 to remember the suffering of those in Hiroshima and call for an end to nuclear weapons, is presently facing a possible 30-year jail sentence for breaking into a high security nuclear weapons facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee last summer.

The facility, known only as "Y12", is used to enrich uranium to produce nuclear weapons. Hoping to bring attention to its existence—and to the massive amounts of money poured the nuclear weapons industry—Rice and two other members of a peace organization known as Transform Now Plowshares managed to cut, climb and hike their way inside the facility on July 28, 2012. After reaching its highest security area, the group spray-painted messages of peace on the building, splashed human blood on the walls, and erupted into prayer and song before they were finally discovered by a guard. 

The U.S. government is now seeking the stiffest penalties possible for the three—charging them with "federal crimes of terrorism" including sabotage and felony property damage,  which could yield them sentences of up to 30 years in prison.  A Common Dreams article explains:
In a mere five months, government charges transformed them from misdemeanor trespassers to multiple felony saboteurs. The government also successfully moved to strip the three from presenting any defenses or testimony about the harmful effects of nuclear weapons.  

The U.S. Attorney’s office…asked the court to bar the peace protestors from being allowed to put on any evidence regarding the illegality of nuclear weapons, the immorality of nuclear weapons, international law, or religious, moral or political beliefs regarding nuclear weapons, the Nuremberg principles developed after WWII, First Amendment protections, necessity or US policy regarding nuclear weapons.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Rice gave powerful insight into what helped lead the three to commit the powerful civil disobedience act.:
Rice said the word "sabotage" is grimly ironic." 

"They want to say that what we did was what each of them are doing all the time with their nuclear weapons industry," said Rice.

In response to a question about whether the protesters did "willfully injure, destroy and contaminate, and attempt to injure, destroy and contaminate national-defense premises," as the indictment charges, Rice said, "Each of the verbs you have repeated would apply to what the government would do in the nuclear weapons industry alone."

The case, she said, is "a very good opportunity to point that out to those who live in a state of denial."
I had the honor and privilege of spending several days with Rice in the summer of 2006, including a ceremony held on August 6th at the Nevada Test Site in commemoration of the 61st year since the Hiroshima atomic bombing that was organized by the Nevada Desert Experience grassroots peace organization. I was deeply moved by how Rice viewed problems such as war, poverty and environmental destruction as sharing the same diseased root—and how she cultivated a profound hope that human beings would indeed one day reverse the existing destructive trends to  achieve a world of sustainability, love and connection.

"Although we all may have different beliefs, everyone has a piece of the truth," Rice told me during one of the numerous inspirational conversations I was able to share with her.

During an interview, Rice also told me:
Our mission (at Nevada Desert Experience) is to bring people to the desert so that they –we—can physically feel the energy and the beauty and the harmony which is there, and get to know in a new and deeper way the enormous wounding and injury which has been done to mother nature in all its forms—the mountains, the atmosphere, the plants, the animals, and certainly the humans in all their psychic dimensions—as repercussions of that very unnatural, steady, unbelievably excessive detonation of bombs that will hopefully never be used, but had to be tested, perhaps because there were a lot of contracts—this is a way of keeping up an economy—this military industrial economy which has been a form of corruption in the latter half of the 20th century, and moving even more so into the 21st century. So our focus is on creating that awareness and trying to create awareness about the contractors who promote this and keep it going.

Megan Rice, just before her trial, speaking powerfully on "being led" by holy (and wholely) forces in her actions,
 how the media is practicing selective focus on the incident, and how "our lovely planet is "under desperate, imminent sabotage" which we are now at the stage of "transforming into 
an almost infinite number of possibilities... that are totally life-enhancing."

These articles from Waging Nonviolence and the New York Times give more background on the incident for which Rice and the two other protesters now stand charged, with a particular focus on Rice's lifelong history as a passionate activist advocating the ideals of love and justice.
This powerful piece put together by the Washington Post—which also filmed the video above—recounts the incident together with the philosophical ideals that led the three to commit the act for which they have said they were willing to give their lives if it would help them achieve their objectives.

Transform Now Plowshares is sponsoring a initiative asking for postcards to be sent to the sentencing judge to request leniency for the three accused. Sentencing will be held on September 23, 2013.

--Kimberly Hughes

Monday, August 5, 2013

Resurrecting Hiroshima: Things Left Behind

"Things Left Behind" is the title of an exhibition by photographer Miyako Ishiuchi and a documentary about the exhibition by Japan-born filmmaker Linda Hoaglund.  They leave one with the sense of two women wrestling with not only history and time, but also death itself, in their attempts to pierce through to the other side of 8:15 a.m., August 6, 1945.

Their search is about facing trauma; the anguish of loss, the striving to resurrect the past; the invocation of spirits — if only for a while.  These photographs and this film are an invitation for us to meet and lay to rest the dead of Hiroshima by meditating upon the things they left behind.

Things Left Behind is playing with English subtitles every day at 4:30 p.m. at Iwanami Hall in Tokyo, until August 16, the day after the anniversary of the end of the Second World War. 11:30 a.m. screening time in Japanese only.  Steven Okazaki's White Light, Black Rain is also showing at 2 p.m. and 6:50 p.m.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Aspri: Building Hope in Fukushima (えすぺり 福島で希望を作る)

The government and the media, and the average Japanese person for that matter would like us to believe that everything is back to normal in Fukushima. That couldn't be farther from the truth. People continue to fight hard to regain a semblance of "normal" and there is still a long way to go. This is about a big step forward taken by local farmers.

This is a story about our friends the Okawaras, (Mrs. Okawara is featured in Women of Fukushima) organic farmers in Fukushima, who have, with the help of friends, family and other supporters, built a farmer's market, cafe, event/education space to restore hope and community to their local area. This is a completely grassroots effort that is injecting energy and spirit into the community.
Synopsis: This heartrending 5-minute video brings us an update on the Okawaras, who shared their lives in the aftermath of 3/11, in the powerful documentary film Women of Fukushima.  Organic farmers, they were traumatized not only by the natural and nuclear catastrophes, but also loss of livelihood when longtime customers abandoned them because of fears that their products have been contaminated by radiation.

However, their part of Fukushima has been only minimally contaminated; therefore they want to stay and work towards restoration, centered around a store and community center they have named "Aspri" which means "aspire" or "hope" in Esperanto.

Mrs. Okawara explains, "The year  after the plant exploded and last year, I would drive around and look at the scenery. Fukushima's mountains, skies, and fields. I couldn't stop myself from crying, when I thought such beauty was contaminated with radiation. To tell the truth, I cried every time I got in the car.

"But since year three, my thinking has changed. Even if it's contaminated, I really love this place. I don't cry anymore. I think it's because we decided to build Aspri. We will be selling many things, including vegetables, bread and fruit. It is also a place for learning. We will have study sessions about strategies for dealing with radiation. It will also be a place for performances...many things..."

They are receiving no support from the government, which refused to give them a loan. "So the politicians talk like the nuclear problem has gone away. But that's not true. Everyone is still really suffering."

At the grassroots, people are filling this gap,  donating money to help support Aspri, which opened on July 13, 2013.  This video is a request for a little more...

(Women of Fukushima is now streaming at Vimeo. Other films in their series on Tohoku may be viewed at the links listed at this  post:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kenzaburo Oe: "The Okinawa protests against the Osprey, and our oppose the restarting of nuclear power plants are all connected to the Constitution. We value and protect Article 9..."


Author  Kenzaburo Oe, co-founder of the Article 9 Association outlines the relationships between widespread opposition to US military testing and training of the accident-prone V-22 Osprey aircraft in Okinawa (and soon-to-be mainland Japan); opposition to nuclear plant restarts, and the Japanese Peace Constitution:
The Japanese government seems to say by this that it is not in a position to object to American objectives [regarding US military testing and training V-22 Osprey aircraft in Okinawa]. This is not the kind of action one would expect from a truly independent, democratic country. It is too easy to see the Osprey issue as a problem affecting only Okinawa; in fact it affects all of Japan because it is a Constitutional issue, not merely local or regional but national in scope...

The Okinawa protests against the Osprey, and our rallies, demonstrations and meetings to oppose the restarting of nuclear power plants are all connected to the Constitution. We value and protect Article 9 of the Constitution. We defend it facing the world as a whole, we defend it facing up to America, and we defend it to every individual country. We must always remember—the Constitution is not some stranger’s issue. It is personal; it is our own.
(Source: Public Lecture, Sept. 29, 2012, Hibiya Kokaido Hall: