Monday, August 06, 2007

Hiroshima Peace Remembrance

Each August 6th, people around the world remember the WWII bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Those first and only atomic bombings took the lives of an estimated 100,000 people, many civilians. Many more suffered the effects of radiation and ruination. In the article linked below, Ron Takaki writes, "The history of this world-shattering event offers us lessons on war, race, leadership, reason, judgment, and the importance of cross-cultural understanding. Those who do not know history, a philosopher warned, will be doomed to repeat it. Hiroshima is a past that is not even past, and we ignore it at our peril."

Hiroshima Day gatherings often take place in a park, near a lake, and feature music, speeches, poetry and prayers. The point is:

- to remember the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- to vow to never use nuclear weapons again
- to generally meditate on peace

People draw or write messages of peace on paper lanterns and then float them on the lake at sundown. It is always a very beautiful event. Check it out in your town.

For more information...
Ron Takaki, "The Lessons of Hiroshima"
Nora Gallagher, "The Soul of a Destroying Nation"
Hiroshima: What People Think Now


  1. My friend, Kyoko, spoke at the Lincoln Hiroshima Day commemoration here in Lincoln. Recently, a self-described "atheist, libertarian, conservative" chemistry professor at UNL blogged about the event and about Kyoko. Of course, he didn;t actually attend the event, so really has no idea what really went on, but that didn;t stop him from going off. Here are his remarks:

    "The Lincoln Journal Star covers the usual Nebraskan blame-America-first crowd memorializing the Hiroshima bombing by lighting Japanese lanterns on Holmes Lake in Lincoln. That's their right, of course. The fact they did so, forgetting Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings saved Paul Olsen's or Leila Shanks' fathers from having to bloodily fight their way onto the Japanese home islands, is merely a reflection of their historical illiteracy. But interesting is the prominence of a Japanese citizen, Ms. Kyoko Matsunaga, in this little guilt-fest. Japan has never really accepted its responsibility for the atrocities it committed between 1930 and 1945, starting with the invasion of China and the Nanjing massacre, both of which long preceded 'the day that shall live in infamy'; then there was the Bataan death march, the imposition of sex-slavery on Korean women, the experiments on prisoners, etc.. If Ms. Matsunaga believes in congenital guilt, there's plenty of scope there for feeling guilty in Japan, or better yet, in China, without coming to Americans to berate America for fighting back against a war of aggression her country started.

    RWP, therefore, very much suspects this isn't about mourning, but about rewriting Japan's history. What a shame Nebraskans are so willing to leap on board such an ignoble effort. RWP's grandfathers were both torpedoed by the German navy, and both parents carried gas masks to school during the Blitz, but oddly enough he felt ordinary manners constrained him from making an issue of it when he lived in Germany.

    He did, however, visit Dachau, a very moving experience. He could do that, because the Germans, unlike the Japanese, have never tried to deny or minimize their country's historical atrocities.

    Soon, Matsunaga will be heading back to Japan.
    Don't let the door hit you, etc.!"

  2. Here are two responses posted to the UNL prof's blog:

    Comment #1: Funny. Your blog rips people for talking about science without a full or deep understanding of science, but here you are talking about history without a full or deep understanding of that history. Moreover, you then attack a Japanese woman who you do not know at all for comments you did not witness, but probably read about in the Journal Star. Your post is full of faulty assumptions about the event, about history and about Kyoko Matsunaga. Does that make you a hypocrite?
    Anonymous | 08.12.07 - 11:55 am | #

    Comment #2: I agree with the anonymous comment above. And to say that Germans "have never tried to deny or minimize their country's historical atrocities" is revisionist history at its best Mr. RWP! Though I'm sure the irony is totally lost on you. And I use MR. purposefully knowing full well that you refuse to refer to Ms. Matsunaga as DR. Matsunaga--a further indication of your ignorance!

    Obviously, as the above comment noted, you know nothing of DR. Matsunaga, nor what she feels or says about Japan and the Japanese government's participation in it own atrocities and imperialism. I'm sure to call attention to America's atrocities and imperialism, as well as its own participation in the genocide and cultural erasure of Native Americans is revisionist history as well, right? Wow, so if I "berate America" for it's horrible crimes, and I'm American, then where should I go back to? Do I have to turn in my brain and become an ignorant right-wing professor like you?

    And to say that she's in America simply to "berate America" is an obnoxiously gross misinterpretation of the event at Holmes Lake as well. It's clear you simply read about it and have absolutely no idea what is going on.

    Do us a favor and stick your head back in the sand. I'll be waiting with the doors wide open for DR. Matsunaga's return to the US!!
    Anonymous | 08.12.07 - 9:23 pm | #

  3. Here is what Kyoko's boyfriend wrote:

    Prof. Harbison,
    I found your recent blog entry about the Hiroshima commemoration astounding for its absolute ignorance. The people involved with the event aren't blaming the United States for the past atrocities it committed (and, like you claim of Japan, refuses to admit) so much as they are hoping to prevent similar events from taking place in the future by remembering past tragedies. Dr. Matsunaga, by the way, has consistently recognized Japan's culpability during the Pacific War and criticized its involvement in the Nanking Massacre, its colonization of Korea and other Asian nations, and its employment of "comfort women." It would seem her understanding of history is far more accurate than your own.