Tag Archives: world war 2

Birthday of Anne Frank

12 Jun

Anne Frank (アンネ・フランク) would have turned 84 years old today, June 12th 2013, if she were still alive.

Have you ever read “The Diary of Anne Frank” (アンネの日記) ?

She received the diary as a present from her parents on her thirteenth birthday.
She began writing in it immediately and continued for two years until she and her family were captured by Nazis in early August 1944 when she was fifteen.

Her father was the only member of her family to survive the hard-labor concentration camp.
He had her diary published after the war when a family friend, who had kept Anne’s diary safe, returned it to him.

The Diary of Anne Frank” wasn’t immediately successful in Europe, and  it was mildly successful at first in America…but it was an immediate bestseller in Japan!

In her diary, Anne wrote:

“I want to be useful to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”

and:

Will I ever be able to write something great?

She definitely wrote “something great”…and she’ll go on living forever!

– Anne Frank, RIP
June 12th 1929 – March ?, 1945

Advertisements

Truman’s grandson visited Hiroshima

7 Aug

Yesterday (2012 August 6th) was the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (August 9th will mark the same anniversary of Nagasaki).

Harry Truman was the U.S. President in 1945 who ordered the atomic bombings of Japan.

Every August, there are ceremonies in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki to remember those who died in the bombings…and to try to ensure that no other nuclear weapons are dropped on any other city in the world.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, a member of former U.S. President Harry Truman’s family attended the ceremony in Hiroshima.

Harry Truman’s grandson laid a wreath of flower at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima.

Harry Truman’s grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, is an anti-nuclear weapons activist. When he attended the ceremony in Hiroshima, he said ““I’m two generations down the line (from former President Truman). It’s now my responsibility to do all I can to make sure we never use nuclear weapons again.”

The “Japanese Schindler”

31 Dec

Today is the last day of the first decade of the 21st century. And New Years is Japan’s biggest holiday. But this post is unrelated to that. Click here if you’d like to read an post I wrote about New Years in Japan.

This post is about a man who risked his career and even his life to help save thousands of Jews from Nazis in Europe during World War II.

杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune),
1900 Jan 1 - 1986 July 31.

His name is 杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune) and he’s often called the “Japanese Schindler” because his courageous actions were similar to the German Oskar Schindler whose story was made famous by the movie titled “Schindler’s List” by Steven Spielberg.

杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune) was a diplomat for Japan in Lithuania during the war.

While stationed there he issued thousands of visas to Jews to enter Japan and transit to America, Canada or other countries.
He issued the visas without proper approval from Tokyo and without even requiring proper application paperwork from the people he gave them to.

If he was discovered by the Japanese government he would have be striped of his diplomatic credentials, removed from office and probably prosecuted.
If he was discovered by the Nazis, his fate would surely have been much worse.

When asked why he risked so much, he replied:

It is the kind of sentiments anyone would have when he actually sees refugees face to face, begging with tears in their eyes. He just cannot help but sympathize with them. Among the refugees were the elderly and women. They were so desperate that they went so far as to kiss my shoes, Yes, I actually witnessed such scenes with my own eyes. Also, I felt at that time, that the Japanese government did not have any uniform opinion in Tokyo. Some Japanese military leaders were just scared because of the pressure from the Nazis; while other officials in the Home Ministry were simply ambivalent.

People in Tokyo were not united. I felt it silly to deal with them. So, I made up my mind not to wait for their reply. I knew that somebody would surely complain about me in the future. But, I myself thought this would be the right thing to do. There is nothing wrong in saving many people’s lives….The spirit of humanity, philanthropy…neighborly friendship…with this spirit, I ventured to do what I did, confronting this most difficult situation—and because of this reason, I went ahead with redoubled courage.

— 杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune)

There are monuments dedicated to 杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune) in America, Europe and Japan.

 

Monument to 杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune) in "Little Tokyo", Los Angeles, California, USA.

This date went down in infamy…twice

8 Dec

John Lennon had a Japanese wife and they were both strongly opposed to war. So isn’t it ironic that he was killed on the thirty-ninth anniversary of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor?

On 1941 December 8th, the 日本海軍 (Japanese Imperial Navy) attacked the U.S. Naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (It was December 8 on the Japanese calendar but since Hawaii is on the other side of the International Date Line, it was December 7th there).

It’s the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Also on this date thirty-nine years later John Lennon of the English rock band, The Beatles, was assassinated in New York.

Today is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death.

Click here to read a more detailed post that I wrote about these two events

VJ Day

15 Aug

Today is 「終戦記念日」 (lit. “Anniversary of the end of the war”), or, as it’s referred to in the West, VJ Day.

So today is the 65th anniversary of the end of World War 2. Unfortunately it’s not the anniversary of war completely.

I’m not going to write a lot of this today because last year I wrote a post about the 64th anniversary that included an English translation of part of the Japanese Emperor’s speech to the people of Japan (click here to read it).

And the year before, I wrote a post about the 63rd anniversary that explained a bit about 「靖国神社」 (Yasukuni Shrine) and it’s relevance to this day. (click here to read that post).

This year 「終戦記念日」 (VJ Day) is on a Sunday (today), so I’m sure 「靖国神社」 (Yasukuni Shrine) was crowded today.

**

Also today was the last day of this year’s 「深川八幡祭り」 (Fukagawa Hachiman Festival)…also called the 「水かけ祭り」 (“Water Tossing Festival“) because people watching the festival throw water on the people carrying the 神輿 (Miskoshi portable shrines). Even firefighters hose them down.

Two years ago I participated in this festival by helping to carry a 神輿 (portable shrine).

It was fun…but carrying that heavy thing all day and also tossing it up and catching it many times…my arms and legs were aching the next day!

This festival occurs every August in the 門前仲町 (Monzen-Nakachou) area of Tokyo…but the big main festival only occurs every three years.

When I participated two years ago it was a “big, main festival”…and next year when the big festival is scheduled again, I am invited to join again.

Click here to see photos and videos of this festival from two years ago when I was a member of one of the 神輿 (Miskoshi portable shrines) teams.

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!

WW2 Allies will attend ceremonies in Japan

27 Jul

Yesterday was 「土用の丑の日」 (“The Day of the Ox“).

This is a day that occurs once or twice every summer. It always falls on a date in late July, and when there’s a second date it’s usually in early August.
Last year was the first time in 213 years that this event occurred twice in July.

This year there won’t be a second date.

It is tradition in Japan to eat うなぎ (freshwater eel) on 「土用の丑の日」 (“The Day of the Ox“).
Eel is said to give stamina to withstand the grueling summer heat.

So, as we usually do on 「土用の丑の日」 (“The Day of the Ox“), we ate 「うな丼」 (grilled freshwater-eel on rice).

It was delicious.

++++++

Every year on August 6 in 広島 (Hiroshima) and on August 9 in 長崎 (Nagasaki) there are peace ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of those cities in August 1945.

And every year, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki invite the U.S. president to attend or at least send a representative.
The reason for this invitation is in hopes that America will attend the ceremonies as a statement against war and nuclear arms.
It is extended as an ally to America not necessarily to attempt to get an apology from America…just an acknowledgment that war is bad and should be avoided.

Every year America declines the invitation.

But last year, U.S. President Barack Obama made a speech in Prague in which he expressed his desire and plans for a world without nuclear weapons.
He always said that he would like to attend the peace ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
His words made the survivors of the nuclear attacks in Japan happy. It was quite the opposite for the statements Washington has always made in the past that the bombings were necessary to end World War 2.

Well, it seems that this is the year that America has finally accepted the invitation from Japan to attend the peace ceremonies.

Next month will mark the 65th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, although U.S. President Barack Obama won’t be attending the ceremonies himself, it has been announced that the U.S. Ambassador to Japan will attend the ceremonies in his place.

Also, Britain and France will be sending their ambassadors as well.

It will be the first time anyone from the governments of those countries have attended these events.

When I came to Japan in 1990, it had been 45 years since the bombings. I remember the fiftieth anniversary in 1995…it was a big event and it was hoped that then-U.S. President Bill Clinton would attend, but he declined just as every U.S. president before and since (until Obama) has.

It has been twenty years since I first came to Japan and now early next month will mark the 65th anniversary of the bombings and I’m sure it’ll be a big event again…especially since the Allied ambassadors will be in attendance.