Tag Archives: atomic bomb

65 years ago in Nagasaki

9 Aug

Today is the sixty-fifth anniversary of the atomic bombing of 長崎 (Nagasaki, Japan).

Last year I wrote a post (click here) about the peace memorials in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And three days ago, I wrote a post about the 65th anniversary of the attack on Hiroshima.

In Nagasaki today there will be a peace ceremony just as there was in Hiroshima last Friday.
I believe the U.S. ambassador to Japan will attend this ceremony just as his attended Hiroshima’s ceremony.

After the atomic bombing of Japan in August 1945, many U.S. military soldiers and marines were stationed in Japan for the U.S. occupation of Japan that lasted until after the Vietnam War.

One of those U.S. Marines was Joe O’Donnell.

Have you ever heard of him?

He was a photographer in the U.S. Marines and was stationed in Japan to photograph Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings.

What he saw there deeply affected him and convinced him that the atomic bombing of Japan was a mistake.

For many years after he returned to America, he tried to forget what he saw in Japan.

But finally about twenty years ago he decided to share his photos with the world so that maybe the mistakes of the past won’t be repeated.
He showed the photos he took to his son, who then had them published in a book and he also started a MySpace page for his father.

He 1995, Joe O’Donnell was interviewed by Japan’s NHK TV station for a documentary about the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombings. (I remember watching that interview on NHK fifteen years ago).

In that documentary, Joe O’Donnell apologized to the people of Japan, especially the victims of the bombings and their families.

…I want to express to you tonight my sorrow and regret for the pain and suffering caused by the cruel and unnecessary atomic bombings of your cities…No more Hiroshimas! No more Pearl Harbors! No more Nagasakis!

—  (Joe O’Donnell, 1995)

This boy in Nagasaki, Japan is carrying his dead younger brother on his back and he's standing at a cremation pyre, trying to prepare himself to cremate his brother. (photo by Joe O'Donnell, 1945)

These three brothers were orphaned by the bombing of Nagasaki. (photo by Joe O'Donnell, 1945)

As fate would have it, Joe O’Donnell died three years ago today. On 2007 August 9th…the 62nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki!

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Two kids with big stories

20 Oct

Do you know the story of 春日めぐみ (Megumi Kasuga) or 佐々木偵子 (Sadako Sasaki)?

They are two young Japanese girls that were about the same age when they each had a tragedy in their life and how they reacted made them both famous in Japan.

Megumi Kasuga was a thirteen year old junior high school student in 茨城県 (Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan) when her father died of cancer.
In memory of her father, who wanted to travel overseas on holiday…but never got the chance, Megumi wrote a letter explaining that she hoped people around the world would take her favorite teddy-bear on a world journey.

She gave the letter and the bear to an American visitor in Japan, who in turn gave it to a Swedish tourist in America…who then gave to another tourist when she got back to Sweden.
And the bear’s journey began.

Megumi received letters from people all over the world wishing her well.
Some people were so touched by her story that they came to Japan to meet young Megumi in person.

Here’s the letter she wrote:

Dear Kind Person,

I’m a seventh grade student in junior high school. I’m 13 years old and live in Kashima City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Kashima is located on the Pacific coast, to the northeast of Tokyo. It takes about two hours by car from here to Tokyo, and about one hour to Narita (New Tokyo) International Airport. Soccer is very popular in Kashima. Our city is the home of the only Japan League professional soccer team in Ibaraki Ken, the Kashima Antlers.

My father, at age 52, died of pancreas cancer on April 26 of this year, 1996. He loved to travel, but he didn’t have a chance to travel abroad, except his honeymoon in Hawaii. He was always very busy as a doctor at his hospital. He was also one of the team doctors for the Antlers. I would like to send this little hand-made teddy bear around the world to carry my father’s spirit to all those places that he never could go. My mother and I share this dream. Would you please help me, and take him with you? When you get to your destination, please give Mack to another person so that he can continue his journey. That way, my father can finally see the world through Mack’s eyes.

Thank you for your kindness. May your dreams also come true.

Peace and love,

Megumi Kasuga

P.S. If you can, please send me a picture of yourself and Mack wherever you go, so that I’ll know he is still travelling.

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Sadako Sasaki was born on 1943 January 7 in 広島 (Hiroshima, Japan).
She was two years old when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on that city.

When she turned twelve, Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia and was given less than a year to live.
She had to stay in the hospital.

While she was in the hospital, she began to fold 千羽鶴 (1000 Origami Cranes) which are a good luck gesture in Japan.

千羽鶴 (1000 Paper Origami Cranes)

千羽鶴 (1000 Paper Origami Cranes)

Sadako folded any piece of paper she could find in the hospital into a paper crane. Hospital staff, other patients and friends and family helped her and gave her any paper they could.

On 1955 October 25, Sadako’s mother made a special meal for her and gave it to her in the hospital.
The last word Sadako Sasaki said before she died that day at age 12 was 「おいしい」 (“It’s delicious“).

Sadako only managed to fold less than 700 paper cranes before she died.
Her friends and family folded the rest and put all 1000 paper cranes in Sadako’s casket with her.

Sadako Sasaki’s story has come to symbolize the need for world peace and there is a statue of her in Hiroshima.
People often leave 千羽鶴 (1000 Paper Origami Cranes) at the statue.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

14 Oct

The day before yesterday (Monday, 12 October) was a Japanese holiday…「体育の日」 (“Sports Day“).
Click here to read my short FAQ about it.

Every year on this day, 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) has an archery ceremony called 「草鹿式」 (“Kusa-jishi-shiki“).

靖国神社の「草鹿式」

靖国神社の「草鹿式」

My wife and I watched this ceremony last year and I wrote a post about it.

This year, a French couple who visited and commented on my blog many times are in Tokyo until next week.
This is their first visit to Japan, so I met up with them and took them to watch the 「草鹿式」 (archery ceremony) at 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine).

I didn’t take many photos of it this year, but please read my post about last year’s ceremony. On that post, there are photos and videos that I took (click here to read it).

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As I wrote in an earlier post (click here), Tokyo was a candidate city to host the 2016 Olympic Games but lost out to Rio De Janeiro.

Well, it has been announced that Tokyo plans to submit a bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games!

But Tokyo isn’t the only Japanese city that wants to host the 2020 games.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki have announced their plan to submit a bid to co-host the 2020 Summer Olympics!

Other cities that have expressed interest in hosting the 2020 games are South Africa, Busan (Korea), Delhi (India), Rome (Italy), St. Petersburg (Russia), Warsaw (Poland), Toronto (Canada), Boston (America), and a number of others.

The candidate cities for the 2020 Olympics will be decided next year and the host city will be chosen in 2013.

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Speaking of 「広島」 (Hiroshima, Japan) and 「長崎」 (Nagasaki, Japan), the city council of Rome, Italy announced their plan to rename a street in their city “Hiroshima Nagasaki Street“!

Their reason is because a 78-year old Japanese man named Hiroshi Nishioka gave a speech in Rome recently that left much of the audience in tears.

Mr. Nishioka is a survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki. He was only fourteen at the time of the bombing and in his recent speech in Italy he recalled how he refused to share the water in his canteen with any of the dying people in the streets of Nagasaki for fear that he wouldn’t have enough left for himself.

Even now, the memory of that, he said in his speech, is “like a splinter in my heart.”

Leaders first meeting

26 Sep

Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, went to New York yesterday and had his first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Japan Prime Minister Hatoyama and U.S. President Obama

Japan Prime Minister Hatoyama and U.S. President Obama

For the U.S., the issue of Japan continued help with the “War On Terrorism” is of top concern.
For Japan, it’s the issue of reducing the number of the U.S. military stationed in Japan…and abolishing nuclear weapons in the world.

But for this first meeting, the only major issue raised was about ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Both Hatoyama and Obama said that they’d like to see an end to the nuclear threat in the world.

As the only country that has ever been attacked by nuclear weapons, this issue is important to Japan.
Prime Minister Hatoyama reiterated Japan’s stance that all nuclear weapons should be abolished and invited the the American president to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki when he comes to Tokyo next November.

No U.S. President has ever visited Hiroshima or Nagasaki .