It is August 9, the anniversary of the dropping of the plutonium bomb named “Fatboy” on Nagasaki. Since the typhoon’s path was the East Coast heading for Osaka, this area of Japan was merely nicked by the storm. The high winds continued all day and got quite strong tonight. I still hear them pounding on the walls of the building. They are whistling, rumbling and howling. However, we escaped rainfall. Apparently, no Aug. 6 or 9 ceremony days have been canceled, and the weather has always been pretty good, except for once 17 years ago in Hiroshima. Today, I wore a hat part of the time merely to manage my hair in the blustery daytime wind, and to shield my scalp from the sun for a little while in the afternoon.
We got to the gymnasium where the rally was to be held about 30 minutes early, which gave us time to survey the scene. There were democratic liberal parties and the green party, in addition to trade union groups and some designated high school students. Many individuals bore their group’s vertical banners of blue, green or red on high poles, and many wore the bright yellow rally t-shirts. Somewhere around 900 people filled the gym. The emblem of the day was quite clever and interesting: it was the earth coloured blue and portrayed as a tulip bulb out of which leaves and a fine red flower reached up to the sun. The flower, though, was shaped as an electrical plug, prongs directed toward the full power of the sun. Horizontal banners decorated the head wall and stage. There were some international visitors waiting patiently to the side of the podium, including an American representative of the Peace Action Committee, a few individuals from South Korea, two women from the Philippines, and a German woman. They were all groups tied to the center and left-of-center political fields. Two keynote speeches addressed two priority issues for the southern regions of Japan: the government’s desire to resume operations of two nuclear reactors in Kyushu, and it’s agreement with the US for the US to construct two more bases in the heavily militarized and armed area of Okinawa where several bases already exist. It was worthwhile to be there in terms of the information provided by the speeches, as well as assessing the character and scope of the activities in the Nagasaki area.
At 10:15, the rally finished and everyone began to queue up in preparation for a march to the Hypocenter Monument. The plan was to reach the monument in time for the moment of silence at the time of the dropping of the A-bomb at 11:02. We joined in the formation near the back end of the line, S holding his sign calling for an investigation into the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and me holding my little ILPS banner. People walked at a moderate pace, three to five persons across. March marshals and traffic police restricted our space and kept the motor vehicles moving beside us. Someone with a loud horn shouted out chants way up at the front, which I could not distinguish. As we moved along, I could see that the line was quite long. By the time we stopped at the park, it appeared that the line had grown and many others were entering the square from all directions. Everyone stopped and stood still in silence at the sound of horns, sirens and bells when the clock struck 11:02. That was the end of the day’s program for us. I helped S to display his anti-nukes and anti-bases banner for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Y scouted around and found a couple of acquaintances, which marked yet another success of our work.
After that, our Peace Solidarity Mission program in Japan ended and we became mere tourists. We examined the city map and opted to head to the south end to look around the Seaside Park and find somewhere to have lunch. We ended up at a little Western style bistro at the old wharf. I treated the guys to lunch, then we followed the seawall, admiring the landscaping and the array of boats in the harbour. Later, we also took in Chinatown, the result of an old settlement of Chinese merchants. There still is a Chinese community in Nagasaki. We wandered around and found the remainders of former settlement buildings, a Dutch trading center, a Portuguese residence, and Chinese Buddhist temples and shrines. They span a period of about 400 years of Japan’s history.
Getting tired, we found a taxi and beat it back to our comfy rooms for a siesta. I invited the guys to join me in my big room for Barb’s Balcony farewell party. Y and I enjoyed some Asahi beer, and we all got some snacks to have with the drinks up on the balcony in my room. It got too windy to be outside, so we sat around the table inside with the TV on. We had to wait until nine o’clock for an affordable hotel restaurant to open its doors.