41 America 4-06

In October, 1962, at the time of the Cuba Crisis, I was nine years old then, living in The people who deplore the nuclear power

There are many people who are involved in anti-war activities including the abolition and reduction of nuclear weapons and disarmament in the U.S. Because they live in a country which has nuclear weapons, their concern is greater than ours.

On April, 22, 2005, I visited Ms. Carah Ong in the office of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation based in California. The foundation had just moved its base to Washington, D.C. We were the first visitors.

Ms. Ong said, “Unfortunately, the Bush administration seems not to be interested in the NPT Review Conference. Unloaded warheads are stored in Texas. The annual budget for nuclear arms is 40-billion dollars, which is used for the research of nuclear arms or the longer sustainability of warheads and so on. In a word, they use the money for the improvement of nuclear arms. We have to educate people in the U. S. so that they will be aware that nuclear arms eventually threaten their lives. We need to make them focus on the issue, otherwise nuclear disarmament won’t be realized. Many people are worried that if we renounce nuclear weapons, our country will be weakened. So we are trying to persuade them that our military is stronger than all other nations, our defense level would not be affected without nuclear arms. It is of no use to intimidate invisible terrorists with nuclear weapons.” Ms. Ong, in her 20s, talked with enthusiasm.

The next day, we visited Mr. John Pike, the founder of Global Security Org. They uploaded a U.S. classified document, NPR (Nuclear Posture Review), on their website in March, 2002. The document include the US determination to use nuclear arms on countries against the United States. Mr. Okada, a journalist from the Chugoku Shimbun Newspaper, asked him, “How did you get the document?” Mr. Pike answered jokingly. “From a fax machine.” Then he started a talk about his opinions about nuclear arms.
Kentucky. I saw the Air Force refueling fighters there, which made me realize this was war. It made me start learning about the effects of atomic bombs.
Our long war history has kept us creating new weapons. At present, the U.S. has considerably reduced nuclear weapons but failed to eliminate all of them. One of the reasons for this is that we can’t sweep out terrorists who live nowhere.
Japan has cultivated various cultures in its long history, so you have many national treasures. But the history of our country is still young. It took a long time to create atomic bombs at a great cost, so these are our national treasures” he said satirically in a plain tone.
I said to him, “There are many national treasures in Japan because of our long history. That is why we do not need nuclear arms. I hope your country will have something else, not atomic bombs.” Then I left his office.

On the way to the hotel by taxi, I saw the Arlington National Cemetery and the Iwo Jima Memorial through the window. It was cold and pouring with rain.


Donate documents on Hiroshima produced by HIS to Ms. Carah Ong

42 America 4-07

American Recognition of History about the A-bombings

During our stay in Washington, DC, we met the historian, Mr. J. Samuel Walker, who justified the dropping of A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was the evening of April 23, 2005, which was two days after the original appointment. I felt very uncomfortable when Mr. Walker’s high stature appeared at the restaurant of the hotel where we are staying, but it was not only because he postponed the meeting without any explanation.

As he took his seat, Mr. Walker began to talk about his historical recognition of the A-bombings. His voice was very calm and each word was expressed carefully: “President Harry S Truman’s main concern was how to terminate the war quickly and definitely, in order to avoid an invasion of the mainland Japan. At that time, the Japanese military did not consider surrender and the Russian army was developing an invasion plan for Japan. If the A-bomb had not been dropped, more people would have died. However, Truman was taken aback by the tragedy the A-bomb caused.”

Mr. Okada, a journalist of the Chugoku Newspaper, fired off a question to Mr. Walker: “Then, why did they drop another one on Nagasaki?” Mr. Walker unconcernedly replied: “It was after the bombing in Nagasaki that Truman commanded not to use any more A-bombs. He said that the A-bomb shouldn’t be used in the Korean War.” Mr. Walker continued: “It took so long for Japan to reach the decision of an unconditional surrender. They made several demands such as keeping the Emperor system, leaving war criminals to the Japanese courts, and having only a short-term occupation while accepting demilitarization. In the end, the emperor system remained and the other conditions were not accepted. I think that the emperor decided to conclude the war after the bombing of Hiroshima, however, by then Soviet Union had already started an invasion. At the fiftieth anniversary victory celebration, I ascertained that a historical recognition had spread through the American people as a myth; ‘The A-bombings brought an earlier conclusion to the war and reduced the number of victims on both sides.’”

Mr. Okada pointed out that there is a huge gap in historical recognition between the United States and Japan and questioned how we could overcome it. Mr. Walker lightly parried his question by saying that “there is no way. There is even no need to fill the gap.”

There was nothing new to me in Mr. Walker’s talk—it was the logic of the American side, which I have heard repeatedly. However, I felt overwhelmed and experienced a shudder come over me when I heard it firsthand. I asked him, “Have you ever met A-bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Have you ever read any accounts of the damage done by the A-bombings? Have you ever seen pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?” “No, you are the first survivor who I have met,” Mr. Walker briefly said and went away quickly as if he was tearing himself away from us, who had invited him for a drink.

After this meeting with Mr. Walker, I began to feel a pain in my stomach and couldn’t even drink water. People in the Mission kindly sent some fruit, hot dogs, and drinks; however, I had no appetite throughout the night.


(Capitol, in Washington D.C.)

43 America 4-08

The Pride of the Nobel Peace Prize

On April 25, 2005, I visited the IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) in Washington, DC. The IPPNW is a group founded in 1980 by a few physicians from the United States and the former Soviet Union. Since I have referred to the IPPNW in my essay about trips to Sweden and Germany, you might remember it. We listened to a representative, Mr. Bob Musil. According to him, there are 32,000 members of the IPPNW in the United States and they eagerly carry out lobbying activities for their main purpose of altering the country’s nuclear policy. Mr. Musil sketched their Project:

“Former president William Jefferson Clinton was perceived to be a politician who maintained peaceful policies. In reality, however, it was the work of some influential NGOs that led to a reduction in American military force and the signing of CTBT and NPT. George Walker Bush, who became president through a controversial election, refuses international peace. The IPPNW seeks to realize the comprehensive peace, including a reduction in armaments and nuclear weapons through international agencies, law, and methods. The United States should stop the development of arms and should not initiate any war. The Department of Defense budget of $450 billion should be preferentially directed to other forms of security and education for young people. The State of Iowa successfully gained people’s awareness through this movement. This movement has extended to the state of Oregon and Wisconsin. In the state of Utah, Mr. Matson, a member of the House of Representatives, is a leader of the prevention of nuclear testing. This is because his father, who was the governor of the state, died from a nuclear test. Local members of IPPNW have given treatment to radiation victims.”

We also listened to Mr. Tom Graham who came into the room after Mr. Musil. During the Clinton government, Mr. Graham worked as a special advisor for the reduction in American military force and on the restriction of the number of nuclear weapons. He presently contributes to international peace as a lawyer, lecturer, and writer. Mr. Graham said:

“In 1998, the then-Japanese prime minister Keizo Obuchi said: “Japan is a defeated nation. We are not allowed to question the policies of the United States. We are under the umbrella of a nuclear power.” I respect the policy of Japan. However, I wonder why the successive Japanese governments have not taken positive actions even though they have had a negative view on the initiative use of nuclear weapons. They should insist on this point more. I have been to Japan several times and have given conference speeches on nuclear issues three times in Hiroshima and once in Nagasaki. I also had discussions with A-bomb survivors.

He showed his deep understanding towards nuclear issues. In this talk, he remarked that supporting the indefinite extension of the NPT is a natural role for Japan to fill. This was the most impressive message for me.


(IPPNW office)

44 America 4-09

High School Students studying of Hiroshima

When we arrived at Wilmington Station, an hour and a half from Washington, D.C. by train, Mr. Yamaguchi was there to meet us. It took more than another hour at high speed from there to Westtown in Philadelphia. We heard that Westtown High School, where we would visit, was one of several prestigious schools run by Quakers, who adamantly renounce war. There were farms nearby, so we realized that students were surrounded by nature. We thought Mr.Yamaguchi, who took care of us a lot, was a teacher, but actually he was the father of one of the students. He sent his son to this school because he shared the philosophy of their active peace education.

On the morning of April 26th, 2005, we woke up with the chirping of birds.

The meeting in the morning started with meditation, which was a Quaker custom. This is the way of their religion; it is more important to talk to yourself rather than pray aloud.

At the beginning of the class, a film was shown. The film had been edited from documentaries, describing the streets in Hiroshima at the time of the A-bombing, the victims and the cruelty of nuclear weapons. It gave a vivid portrayal of the facts of the A-bombing. Then I told my experiences. Students seemed to have studied a lot about Hiroshima before my visit. They hailed questions on me; “What should we do to stop using nuclear weapons?” “What should we do not to expand nuclear arms?” “What can we do about countries exporting and importing nuclear technology?”

Mr. Okada, a journalist from the Chugoku Newspaper, said, “There is no way to prevent a nuclear disaster without abolishing nuclear weapons. As long as they exist, uranium can be used by terrorists. NPT should work effectively and something should be planned for international peace. The challenge we face is to eliminate the tensions among countries having problems with each other. The only way to solve the problems in the world is to trust each other, not to use force. Grass-roots exchanges are important for its realization, so we need movements at the citizen level.”

Someone asked, “What do you think about the view that the U.S. justifies the A-bombing?” I answered, “In early 1945, the situation in Japan was already miserable; the major cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama and Kobe were bombed and many American soldiers landed on Okinawa. The local people committed suicide, were killed by American soldiers or were sent to prisons. Japan’s surrender was within sight. On July, 16th, U.S. president Harry S. Truman confirmed the success of a nuclear test in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Then he hastily gave the order to use the A-bomb. I believe that it was wrong and Hiroshima was used as a guinea pig.”
In the afternoon, a symposium was held with eleventh grade students and people from the town. I will introduce how it went next week.


(Meeting with high school students)

45 America 4-10

Learn from history for a brighter future

Westtown High School in Philadelphia is a prestigious school run by Quakers, who practice a pacifist doctrine.
A training session with eleventh grade and the public was held on the afternoon of April 26th, 2005. I told my experiences of the A-bombing. One of the female students stood up and asked me, “How was it possible for you to get over the trauma of the A- bombing? “ She looked at me intently.

I said “On New Year’s Day of 1946, the Emperor Showa announced the Humanity Declaration, denying being a living god but rather the symbol of the State and unity of the people. The new Japanese Constitution was issued in May the following year, granting the people of Japan equal rights. Women previously of a low social status were very grateful and also filled with hope because they could participate without hesitation in a democratic society based on the United States. Four years after the end of the war, some missionaries from the U.S. were teaching English at my Christian girls’ junior high school. They consoled the A-bomb victims and orphans after school. We were told to knit 10-centimeter-square pieces out of wool and tie these to make shawls and warm lap covers. Not long before Christmas, they sent these to the victims, and at the same time, showed us what it was to be a volunteer.
I have a personal story I would like to tell you. One day I was asked by a teacher why I didn’t do my homework. I explained that my mother was in bed due to the A-bombing sickness. After that, the teacher inquired after my mother whenever we met. I couldn’t forgive the United State for dropping the A-bomb, but I came to console myself by accepting American people’s apologies and their acts of goodwill.” I noticed that strained look on the face of the audience changed to one of relief.

However, very soon after I had finished speaking, someone asked, “Do you really understand how nervous we feel after 9/11.?” I said, “I went to Ground Zero six months after 9/11. I saw the terrible destruction and the ruined remains of what had been World Trade Center; however, the rest of New York City seemed quite O.K. and was busy as usual. Why should I take it for granted that this tragedy was comparable of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which were completely destroyed by nuclear weapons? I want American people to think about why 9/11 happened and not to believe that only they are victims. I am quite certain that there were some reasons before it happened.” There was a momentary stir in the audience, but I had not the least intention of changing my opinions.

The next morning, I joined a teachers training session. After the session was over and I was making my way out of the room, one of the female teachers called to me. She said, “I was angry with you when you told us we should rethink of 9/11. I thought it over all last night and realized we forgot to reconsider what we, as a nation, have done in the past. We will do our best to seek the truth in a deep and honest way. Thank you.”


(Presented thousand cranes at Westtown High School)

46 America 4-11

Artists Who Express Hiroshima

When I stayed in New York, April 27 through May 8, 2005, Mr. Hiroshi Sunairi, an artist from Hiroshima, served as an interpreter for me. We introduced ourselves to each other and I learned that the town where he was born was where my parents lived. It was nice that we had a lot in common to talk about, though we were different in generation.

On the afternoon of the 29th, we visited the Art Department of New York University where Mr. Sunairi was teaching. It was more like a factory than a campus in my impression. Indescribable smells and a weird metal-scrubbing noise enveloped the rooms, hallways, virtually everywhere. Students were working seriously with rhythmic movements, trying to give life into their artworks using clay, paint, plaster, wood, metal, paper or cloth. A Peace Exhibition was planned at the former Bank of Japan, an A-bomb survived structure in Hiroshima, starting from late July and the objects they were working on were for the exhibition. Having been familiar with the works of Michelangelo or Auguste Rodin, I could hardly understand what the objects being born through their fingertips were supposed to express.

We were taken to a dreary/bleak classroom that had extra high ceilings. More than ten students sat in a lump at the stairs in the corner as soon as they got in the room. They were in torn jeans, shirts and jackets smeared all over with clay or metal rust, let alone paint, and kept chewing gum. When I stood in front of them, I felt tension, a strange feeling I had never experienced before, probably because I had something surging up in me – an obstinate feeling that I would make their interests concentrate on Hiroshima.

After our presentation was over, they began folding cranes with 20-square-centimeter white paper. Enthusiasm whirled as we joined them in folding, but they were taciturn. I said to myself that they were the kind of people who would express their inner feelings through creating. I promised to see them again in Hiroshima.

On August 18, I visited Mr. Sunairi for his private art exhibition at the Hiroshima Modern Art Museum, taking two Swedish young men along with me. His artwork was an elephant lying on the floor that had its feet cut off. He explained that elephants are the animals that do not forget things in the past, and that the message of his work was “Hiroshima should never be forgotten.” His artwork was over my head without his explanation, but the young men showed interest and asked Mr. Sunairi many questions.

We moved to the former Bank of Japan for the Peace Exhibition where we found the young students’ art works from New York. The paper cranes we had helped to fold were dancing in the air. Again, their artworks were beyond my comprehension, but somehow I felt their message not to repeat the cruelty. The American students said they were learning about Hiroshima from the people who came to visit the exhibition.


(At New York University)


(Exhibitions at former Bank of Japan)


(Footsteps of an elephant)

47 America 4-12

A Charismatic Citizen of the United States

On the morning of April 27, 2005, I was in Virginia Beach in Norfolk, Virginia, not knowing how to pass the time. Studying the map, I found the MacArthur Memorial on the opposite side of the street. I thought this would be a good opportunity to see how American people think of General Douglas MacArthur. But the street, which was too wide and busy with speeding cars, discouraged me from walking across it. When I gave a casual look at the grass around my feet, I spotted a rare four-leaf clover. I found one after another. Finally I picked eight four-leaf clovers there and pressed them in my datebook.

At three in the afternoon, we paid a visit to Rev. Pat Robertson, the former president of the Christian Coalition, a Christian fundamentalist group, at the building which he owns. The building looked like a western castle. He is a televangelist and hosts a show on a cable television, CBN. It took a long time before he showed up, although we had made an appointment. The walls of his gorgeous office proudly displayed his picture taken with previous presidents and VIPs. Some of them were conservatives and others were liberals. These pictures show how influential and charismatic he has been.

Mr. Okada, a Chugoku Shimbun Newspaper reporter, started the interview, saying, “You are a spiritual leader of American citizens. We would like to ask your opinion about nuclear issues.” Mr. Robertson made a model answer, saying, “Personally speaking, I am very concerned about the spread of nuclear weapons.”
Mr. Okada asked him if the U.S. could stop developing small nuclear bombs. Mr. Robertson answered, “I don’t think we can stop. Evil governments exist in the world, such as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Because they are very dangerous, the U.S. forces are necessary for world peace.” Mr. Okada pursued, “You mean that is why the U.S. needs nuclear weapons, don’t you?” “The U.S. has been trying to promote democracy around the world. We possess nuclear weapons as a deterrent to realize a peaceful world. We will never use them unless we are attacked. Terrorist groups are a real threat. We should possess nuclear weapons as an imperative measure. Saddam Hussein wanted his country to be a nuclear power and wanted to monopolize oil in that region. The U.S. gave him a warning,” said Mr. Robertson a little defensively.
He turned to me and said in a flat and decisive tone, “I feel very sorry about the adversity of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the then Japan’s policymakers are to blame.” I said to him, “Hiroshima thinks that dialogue and mutual understanding, not force, are the only way to resolve conflicts. We want nuclear weapons to be eliminated. Peaceful relationship with Muslims can be attained through dialogue, can’t it?” He only returned a smile to me.

While waiting for a taxi outside the building after the interview, we saw the garden stretching around the building and spotted a small structure resembling the Flame of Peace in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, which will burn until the day of the elimination of all nuclear weapons in the world. This structure also has a flame. One member of our group said, “I wonder what the flame means.” Mr. Okada replied in a second jokingly, “It will burn until the day of the extinction of all Muslims.” But nobody liked his joke.


(Rev. Pat Robertson)

48 America 4-13

Four-leaf Clover

On April 28, 2005, I was at Ground Zero in New York again for the first time in three years, accompanied by a middle-aged man who introduced himself as an educator. The site, which had been cleared and leveled, looked odd with construction incessantly going on. Following him, I came to the reception desk of a big building. After a strict security check, we entered the interior, and I found myself in the Memorial Hall for the 9/11 victims. There were photos, notebooks, clothes, accessories, neckties, and rings, as well as messages from family members and friends. There were poems, pictures and letters, gorgeous artificial flowers, and many Stars and Stripes and also Japanese victims’ photos and condolences. A mother and infant were sitting on the floor talking to a photograph of their loved one. The same scene was repeated here and there. Wherever I might cast my eyes, grief welled up in me.

Being here, I realized that there had not been any place for consolation in Hiroshima after the A-bombing. The dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki could not leave even a single picture behind, much less be remembered in such a grand Memorial Hall.

After leaving the Memorial Hall, I was shown to the office of Peaceful Tomorrows, the 9/11 victims’ bereaved family group. This group, protesting the belligerent Bush administration and appealing to it to stop retaliation, had grown into such a big one that it began to receive peace activists’ attention worldwide.

Ms. Colleen Kelly, who came into the room late, took her seat across from me. She made a cry of surprise, saying, “Hi, Keiko.” I stood up and said, “I have something for you.” I took her hand and gave her a four-leaf clover wrapped in tissue paper. She burst into tears with her hand on her mouth. People around us were surprised at the “turmoil” and looked at Colleen and me.

Three years ago, when a dialogue meeting was held at a Buddhist temple in New York, I made a speech, saying, “It was said that no trees or plants would grow in Hiroshima for 75 years after the A-bombing. However, many four-leaf clovers grew on the grounds of the girls’ junior high school I entered four years after the A-bombing, and I was very happy, putting four-leaf clovers between the pages of my hymn book and Bible. The four leaves are said to symbolize hope, faith, love, and happiness. I believed that God brought us happiness because Hiroshima had experienced such misfortune. But when I learned the fact that I found so many four-leaf clovers was caused by radiation, I was disappointed. There will be no four-leaf clovers growing at the World Trade Center site. Please be happy about the fact that any nuclear weapons were not used in the 9/11 incident.”

When I finished my speech, Colleen called me to a corner of the room. She pulled up her skirt, saying, “Look here!” There I saw a four-leaf clover tattoo on her thigh. “My brother, who was killed in the 9/11 incident, used to have a tattoo. So I got the tattoo done in the same design,” she said, with tears in her eyes.

This time, Colleen winked and smiled at me, patting her thigh, and said, “My brother showed me the way to live.”


(Reunion with Kelly)


(A four-leaf clover)

49 America 4-14

Akiba Project

It has been generally accepted in the United States that World War II started with Pearl Harbor and ended with the Atomic bombings. The U.S., which regards the Atomic bombings as righteous, has not made any apology to Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Indeed, the U.S. has used sophistry that many lives were saved by them, and the idea has taken root among U. S. citizens.

In the 1970s, the Chugoku Shimbun and Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation started preparations for a project which would invite U. S. journalists to Japan to help them understand the facts of the Atomic bombs, various problems brought about following the bombings, and nuclear issues taking place all over the world. The present mayor of Hiroshima City, Dr. Tadatoshi Akiba, used to teach at Tufts University in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. The invitation project started in 1979, thanks to his extraordinary efforts. It was named the Akiba Project and continued for the next 10 years. A total of 40 journalists were invited, and as a result of having them study, they have become the driving force to question the U. S. justification here.

Prof. Diana Roose at Oberin University met me at the airport in Columbus, Ohio, when I joined the World Peace Mission in the middle of the mission tour. She said she went to Hiroshima as one of the members of the Akiba Project in 1980. She also said that she made another Hiroshima tour together with her son Kevin in August, 2004.

She rushed to meet us in Wilmington, Ohio; Washington, D. C.; Westtown High School in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and New York, visiting us from her work place or home depending on our Mission’s itinerary, and also volunteering to help as advisor. Her figure next to Mayor Akiba, marching at the front of the peace march, cheering with all her might, will never leave my memory.

Mr. Greg Mitchell, active in writing circles, also introduced himself with pride as a product of the Akiba Project. When he said, “I produced Child Bomb. I have confidence in the work,” I cried with surprise at this wonderful encounter. I had made a voice appearance in the movie, persuaded by a Japanese staff member.

I expressed my thanks, saying, “I cooperated in producing some movies with the themes of pacifism and nuclear abolition, and I asked them to let me see the movies when they were finished, but in vain. Child Bomb is the first work presented to me.” Mr. Greg Mitchell showed his surprise with his whole body, much more than I did.

Returning home, I bought a book written by him, Hiroshima in America, since it was introduced to me. Its contents have so much meaning that I am reading it slowly page by page. I have the other volume yet to read.


(With Diana in Central Park)

50 America 4-15

A Japanese Teacher in New York

As with all religions, when the interpretation of Scriptures differs, styles of faith are diversified and subdivided. Christianity is not an exception. Former President George W. Bush calls himself a pious Christian and attacks Islam in his style.

The Quakers, one faction of Protestantism, is a very faithful Christian group. In ordinary churches, priests lead their followers and seekers; however, Quakers don’t consider one man better than any other, and seek their inner light through meditation. They also hold on to peace at any price without giving in to secular authorities. If I were to say that Quakers resemble Zen Buddhists, its authorities may object.

On April 29, 2005, our World Peace Mission visited a high school in Brooklyn, New York, run by Quakers. When we tried to prepare for the exhibition of A-bomb-related photos brought from Japan, the teachers said, “Our students are very sensitive. We are worried about making too strong impact on them. Don’t exhibit tragic pictures.” I said to a Japanese teacher among them, “Why not? What can we convey by putting a blindfold on their eyes?” She said, “I also would like them to face reality. However, the American way is different from the Japanese way. To protect young people from bitter experience is important.”

I flatly said, “It is generally accepted in the U.S. that only soldiers fight in war. However in other countries, not only children but women indiscriminately were killed in war. The Atomic bombing killed people instantly and indiscriminately.”

The program, however, proceeded as the host of the event wished it to be. The time allotted for me was only about fifteen minutes. I was afraid that they would think they really understood Hiroshima. In the end, however, I settled for the fact that the Quaker students listened to me, even though many American citizens believe that the A-bombing on Hiroshima saved many lives.
At the end of the program, we took a commemorative photograph with big smiles, displaying one-thousand paper cranes folded by Sanyo Jogakuen High School students in Hiroshima Prefecture.

In the U.S., this kind of event planned by outside groups is organized through the considerations of teachers and requests from students, not by the school authority. This program was realized by the enthusiasm of Ms. Mie Makishima, a Japanese teacher of the school. She repeatedly apologized for having an argument with me. I said to her openly, “In the U.S., they divert their eyes from something tragic. I am used to it. I was given chance to talk about Hiroshima’s tragic experience because they are Quakers. Thank you.”


(Brooklyn High School)