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A Year of Living Positively -Day 233

Note: This is a late entry because I am travelling and during my travels I was not able to recharge my Netbook computer for a few days, and lost both my pens. I acquired a new pen and started to get caught up with regards to handwritten notes. This entry is being typed into the e-document on August 9.
Last night, we met S at the Hiroshima airport and found somewhere to go get reacquainted over dinner. The hotel was fine. We are traveling in a rented car for the time being. Y, our AWC host, guide and interpreter has established the entire itinerary and booked rooms for us in Japan.
It is August 6, the anniversary of the dropping of the Uranium A-bomb on Hiroshima. We drove to Peace Park to have breakfast then attend the rally by ten-thirty. It was pouring hard all night and earlier this morning, but let up before the rally started. However, some supporters from the outlying areas were unable to make it due to the heavy rains and flooding. Those among our associates who assembled today numbered 50 to 75.
The official state ceremony happened at 8:15, the precise time of the A-bomb explosion over Hiroshima. The Prime Minister presided and other state officials, plus foreign dignitaries including Caroline Kennedy, the US Ambassador to Japan attended. The keynote speech is criticized as a tokenism, and a rehash of last year’s speech. Hundreds were at the ceremony to listen to speeches, lay wreathes, pray and sing.
Hundreds if not thousands more roamed the park during the day. Around the entire park over the whole day, there was a kind of a peace fair with cultural programs, tours, leafleting, greetings, prayers, talks, eating, meditation and artwork. There were various booths and tents and banners.
Our contingent took up a corner at a park entrance in front of the dome, which is the shell of what used to be a community center turned prefecture administrative center during the Second World War. Many people passing by, including American and Europeans visitors, stopped to look at enlarged photos of injured and dying victims, and the landscape of a smoking city in ruins. They also looked at the banners and placards, took and read literature, listened to speeches, signed a petition, and talked with organizers. Three of us international visitors were present and we each gave speeches. A national representative of the AWC-Japan Committee and the ILPS gave the second keynote rally speech and spoke for our ILPS Peace Solidarity Mission. A youth group emceed the rally. The leading organizer was a son of A-bomb victims and he gave the main speech. S was happy to display his banners and sign, make his presentation and get noticed. Everyone there signed his petition.

National rep of AWC in Tokyo, me for TEA-KOR and ILPS Korea/international committee with Y AWC-Japan Secretary and Interpreter, S for WTP anti-nukes group at Hiroshima Peace Park rally. 
The park was full of regional and international tourists who had made an effort to visit Hiroshima on August 6 as part of their vacation itinerary. I think they must be serious people. How much fun is it to visit the nuclear holocaust memorials and museum on a hot, humid and cloudy day, after all? Besides, there is nothing else for tourists right in Hiroshima. I think it is valuable that they commit to taking time to get information and honour victims in Hiroshima and other places such as Auschwitz, Ho Chi Minh City, and Pnom Penh.
In fact, the City of Hiroshima promotes peace tourism. We went through the museum. We only wish it were about the past, but it has developed to document all the nuclear weapon development, testing and stockpiling in the world. The US has around 7500 nuclear warheads, Russia 8,000 and France 500. The place was jam-packed today. As it was my second time there, and my first visit was only last year, I did not read and see everything in the exhibit this time. S got the audio equipment to hear everything about the exhibit. He had been very excited that morning about being in Hiroshima on August 6 and being invited to tell his story.
As we left the museum, an anti-war march arrived and formed a big colourful circle to hold a rally there in the plaza beside the museum. There must have been 150 to 200 of them and they appeared to be well organized.

For my part, I was surprised to see so little political and social mobilization outside that was specifically addressing the problems of war today and various related peoples’ struggles. What about Gaza? The pictures of Gaza on TV and the internet these days are reminiscent of flattened Hiroshima. I saw no messages about that conflict, or Syria, or Libya, or Iraq…

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