2011年10月07日

39 America 4-4

The American University

Fifty years after the end of World War II, the National Air and Space Museum planned to hold an A-bomb exhibition. American war veterans opposed the plan so harshly that the plan was canceled; furthermore, the manager of the museum had to retire.

A second generation survivor, Ms. Akiko Naono, who was studying in the US at that time, planned an A-bomb exhibition by herself. She successfully held the A-bomb exhibition on the campus of the American University in Washington, D.C. and later wrote a book about how she did it. I felt encouraged very much by reading that book, Hiroshima・America –Gembakuten wo megutte (A path to the A-bomb Exhibition) published by Keisuisha.

That was when I learned that American University was in Washington, D.C. It was remarkable of the university to give a Japanese student the opportunity to hold an A-bomb exhibition in the country whose society is allergic to the two words-Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In April 2002, I visited the university as a member of the “Hiroshima/Nagasaki Anti-nuclear Peace Mission.” On the late afternoon of the 29th, people including college students began to gather on the campus. Crew members of the local TV station, which was going to broadcast our forum live, also began to look busier.

The forum started at 7 p.m. The American panelists consisted of specialists in nuclear and international issues. I told my A-bomb experience as one of the Japanese panelists. Spotlighted and feeling a little nervous, I read the English translation of my story. When all the programs were over, every panelist extended a handshake to me. A cameraman winked at me approvingly. Other mission members happily welcomed me down on the floor.

It never occurred to me that I could visit American University again. The World Peace Mission wouldn’t miss the university, which had kept tackling nuclear issues.

On April 22nd, 2005, when I was back there on the campus, I felt overwhelmed with memories. Friendly students passing by said hello to us, obviously foreign visitors. Professor Peter Kuznick, who was familiar to me, met us, and led us straight to the classroom where some fifty students were waiting. The students earnestly listened to us and had a heated discussion about the conflicts in many parts of the world and about weapons of mass destruction. It is regrettable to say, but I couldn’t fully understand what they were saying. So I could only assume from Prof. Kuznick’s facial expression. At the end of the class, Prof. Kuznick said, “We will visit Hiroshima on Hiroshima Day next year. I hope to see you again there.” During his farewell greeting, Prof. Kuznick told us that they were busy again preparing to have another hibakusha there two days later. In America there are also people who earnestly listen to hibakusha and make efforts to pursue nuclear disarmament.

For your information, presently Ms. Akiko Naono is an associate professor at the graduate school of Kyushu University. I hear that besides teaching, she is deeply involved in Hiroshima and extremely busy writing books, giving public lectures, and researching about Hiroshima.


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(Downtown, Washington D.C.)