As the Explanation at the end of the Picture Book
“Sadako and Her Senbazuru”
(written by SHANTI / published by AURORA JIYU ATELIER in 1996)

Towards an International Solidarity of Conscience

Forward to the English version of "Sadako and Her Senbazuru"

                       Yamaguchi Izumi

   In one sense, our decision to have our children's picture book "Sadako and Her Senbazuru" translated into English highly symbolizes the very theme of the book itself. English is the most widely-used language in the world, either as a mother tongue or a second language, and has become the international language of communication and commerce. This universality has been accompanied by an unprecedented pervasion of the cultures of the English-speaking peoples. In reality, these cultures are dominating the whole modern world.
   This situation is not unlike the nuclear threat that hangs over the entire world. While it is true that the possession of nuclear weapons is no longer restricted to the so-called major powers, it can be said that the technology and ideology of the atomic bomb and other weapons of mass destruction have come to symbolize the end of Western domination of the world since the 14th century.
   The nuclear powers have inevitably taken mankind hostage as they have spread their nuclear ideologies during this century. Eventually, we will have to use the languages of the nuclear powers, English or French, if we are to communicate across national borders.

   Japan's role leading to this state of affairs is nothing short of criminal. As a non-Western state, Japan should have contributed to the healthy modernization of its Asian neighbors earlier in this century. On the contrary, Japan adopted only the worst traits of the Western powers, created an oppressive fascist state, and ultimately invaded its neighbors. Japan's aggression has painted blood all over the modern map of the Asia-Pacific region.
   Yet post-war governments have glossed over Japan's responsibility for this aggression and colonization, leading to a seemingly national consensus that speaks of the American A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki only in vague terms that stress Japan as the tragic victim.
   As for myself, I am deeply ashamed of our moral paucity in intentionally confusing the relationship between modern Japanese history and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am even more ashamed of the tendency of people both inside and outside this country to minimize and confine the horror and misery caused by nuclear weapons as strictly a concern for Japan and the Japanese. We have no right to monopolize this issue for all time.

   In the summer of 1994, we collaborated with SHANTI, a student group at Ferris University in Yokohama, on an illustrated book for children in Japanese titled "Sadako To Senbazuru". The response here in Japan has far exceeded our expectations. Among others, one reason for this phenomenal response was that the book went beyond a simple narrative of the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but rather it included a history of the Japanese aggressions in Asia that ultimately led to those tragedies.
   "Japan had been at war in those days." So starts the two-page spread on Pages 10-11, which speaks of these aggressions. We included this spread, even if not in the most prudent manner, in order to halt once and for all the automatic and uncritical appeal by Japan to portray itself only as a nuclear victim.
   At the same time, it must serve as the starting point for a critique of the self-justifying rationale of the United States and the other nuclear powers. These nations glorify their vested rights to maintain nuclear arms while declaring that the Japanese-led emotional appeal concerning Hiroshima and Nagasaki is simply the result of arrogant and misguided feelings on the part of the victims, who after all have no understanding of the perpetrator's position.

   An attempted affirmation of the atomic bombing is underway. This spring, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , U.S. President Bill Clinton declared at a formal press conference that the use of the atomic bombs on the two cities was justified. He received a full applause from the audience for that remark. I hope that his remarks will be unrelated to the coming debate on the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Japanese Foreign Minister Kohno Yohei protested that the president's remarks were incompatible with Japanese sentiments, which tend to reflect the fact that Japan is the only country in the world to have suffered a nuclear attack. I cannot accept either view.

   Then flames were enveloping the neighborhood
   Alone in one house, a mother and her seven-year-old daughter
   The mother lay trapped under the collapsed roof
   The little girl tried desperately to lift up the beam
   But the flames were encroaching
   "You must flee by yourself,"
   And with her free arm
   The mother pushed the girl away.
   In the fleeing procession, an old woman stopped
   Tugging on a loosened belt
   For heavens sake, the flames were chasing them
   So another fleeing passer-by shouted,
   "Madam, throw that away and hurry!"
   Replied she,
   "This is my gut."
              (Nakamura Atsushi , "Street of Flames")

   This poem relates only one of the several tens of thousands of tragic scenes on August 6, 1945.
   Surely we cannot condone a review of history that justifies the killing of people, or more accurately, the brute force of indiscriminate massacre, nor allow this slaughter to be affirmed without feeling any pain in one's heart.
   The United States of America developed the first nuclear weapon in the history of mankind, and to date has been the only country to deploy it (twice) in wartime over populated areas.
   Since then, it has continued to frighten smaller countries into submission by threatening to use nuclear arms. The bomb dropped on Nagasaki was of a different type than the one dropped on Hiroshima, and it is unclear as to the degree that these bombings were large-scale human experiments.
   In reality, contrary to what the perpetrators are ignoring or are concealing, these mass bloodbaths did not signal an end to a troubled era. It has instead opened up a Pandora's Box, unleashing a frightening era of even greater terror and destruction of humanity. We are compelled to interpret the aforementioned remarks of President Clinton, a member of the post-war generation, as a cool determination to use nuclear weapons again at any time as necessary.
   Nevertheless, who is prohibited from protesting against those who repeatedly proclaim the legitimacy of the use of nuclear arms? Is it really just the prerogative of the national sentiment of one country?
   At a time when nuclear testing in various regions throughout the South Pacific by certain military powers continue to draw heated protests by many people, is it still right for Japan to refer to itself as the only nuclear victim? And the reality is that the Japanese people were not the only ones to suffer the agonies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For example, there were many Korean victims as well. In fact, Japanese colonialism was the direct cause of these people being bombed.

   "I was taken to an area near Mt. Hiji where American doctors from a research institution known as ABCC tested me over and over. I was X-rayed repeatedly in the chest, and from the front and back of my abdomen. I lost count of the actual number. Then I started to bleed about 8 o'clock that night, and the bleeding did not stop until 8 o'clock the next morning. I had miscarried." (From the screenplay of the documentary film directed by Mori Zenkichi, "For The International Community: A Documentary on Korean A-Bomb Victims")

   This is the experience of Song Nyoen Sun, a Korean hibakusya living in Japan who lost five children by the bomb. After the surrender, when pregnant with her third child, she was forcibly taken to the ABCC (Atomic Bomb Casualty Committee), the American institute studying the effects of the bombing.
   History has made it clear that the objective reasons brought forth for dropping the bombs were entirely groundless. But what about Pearl Harbor? The Japanese attack on this military facility killed thousands of soldiers and officers. In any debate on the deployment of the atomic bombs, these thousands of deaths are always "bartered" with the more than two hundred thousand mostly unarmed civilians killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The significance of the subsequent advent of the nuclear age caused by the bombings is continually lost amid the heightened feelings of revenge against the Japanese whenever the issue is raised.
   My intent has never been to quantify and debate the number of lives lost. But the difference between a fundamentally limited attack on military personnel and the indiscriminate mass killing of innocent civilians with the massive air raids on Tokyo and Yokohama, and the A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, brings into relief one disputable fact. That is, the subsequent advent of the nuclear age has ushered in an era when the entire world must forever fear the threat of an indiscriminate massacre by one or more nuclear powers.
   The aforementioned testimony of Song Nyoen Sun also symbolizes the secret strategy behind the deployment of the atomic bombs. The inevitable conclusion is that the real reason was not to minimize the casualties among allied forces and the Japanese army on the Japanese mainland, nor to free Asia from Japanese rule; instead the Americans envisioned nuclear arms as being the most forceful means of establishing global hegemony after the war, and towards this end, unleashed the bombs during the war for testing and propaganda purposes.

   Japan's relations with its Asian neighbors differs from its relations with the United States and other Western nations, particularly so during the first half of this century. The atrocities committed by Japan cannot by any reasoning be rationally offset by the mass murders perpetrated by the Americans in the name of punishment.
   I have seen reports that the people of the Philippines, Singapore, China, and Korea cheered when the Americans dropped the A-bombs. If those reports are indeed true, to me, that would be the most pitiful tragicomedy in the history of mankind, despite the compelling reasons they may have had during that period.
   It signifies nothing more than their mistake in seeing this foreign power as their liberator instead of their conqueror. This power could one day threaten to unleash on them the power of the bomb, and hold them in bondage. How galling it is for this power to continually use the rage of the original victims of aggression in order to make the brute force of technology look like justice for mankind. An intense anger spills out of me at the callousness of these decision-makers.
   In order to divert attention away from the civilian casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in order to justify the start of the nuclear age, the nuclear powers call attention to the death and violence wreaked by the Japanese military throughout Asia and the Pacific.
   But in doing so, the people of Asia are being killed not once, not twice, but a thousand times over for political purposes. Meanwhile, as of August 6, 1945, the survivors and the future generations of Asia and the whole world, who were to have been freed from Japanese aggression, instead find themselves held hostage under the nuclear policy of the United States and other nuclear powers.

   More than bringing an end to one period of history, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, above all, marked the beginning of an inhumane world. If we Japanese owe anything to humanity, it is not the sordid and erroneous right to compensate for our aggressions in Asia with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No, we are instead eternally obliged to speak out from our experience as A-bombed people about the inhumanities of the nuclear age.
   I remember faces and voices. The year before last year, on a visit to the ancient city of Uppsala in Sweden, I presented some 'origami' (folded-paper craft) to a middle-aged gentleman and mathematics teacher, explaining "that the same origami were sent to the victims of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki." His face bore an expression of the greatest pity and sadness for mankind.
   Later, in the same city, on the morning of August 9, I met a Polish woman and her four children who made their living by selling home-made bread door-to-door. As I presented her with paper cranes and other origami, the mother said "I heard on the radio this morning that this was the date of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki." There were tears in her deep-blue tinged gray eyes. In Tallin, the capital of Estonia, a Romany who was begging while clutching the hand of a little girl saw that I was Japanese and began to chant "Nagasaki . . .Hiroshima . . . Tokyo", as though in a trance.
   I am a post-war generation Japanese. I made up my mind early in life to speak about the moral responsibility of the pre-war generations and to continually critique their actions. Living up to the responsibilities for their wars does not deprive anyone of the right to speak of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or to speak of human dignity and its significance in the course of the history of the world. This is not a Japanese issue, but an issue concerning all mankind.

   Today, June 28, 1995, as I was writing this piece I heard the news that the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. had opened an exhibition of the nose piece of the "Enola Gay", the B29 bomber used to drop the A-bomb on Hiroshima, a replica of the bomb, and a documentary film about the "Enola Gay" crew. Martin Harwit, curator of the museum had planned to include some exhibits showing the misery on the ground after the bomb fell as a way of closing the gap between Japanese public opinion and American public opinion about the atomic bombings. Ultimately the force of public opinion in the United States forced Harwit to resign, creating a situation of deep regret for the Japanese.
   An even more frightening development is the proposal to take off from Saipan this year on August 6 and head for Hiroshima in a re-enactment of the flight of the "Enola Gay" on August 6, 1945. I pray that this outrageous plan does not materialize. I shudder to think that those Americans responsible for this proposal are proud, rather than remorseful, of the fact that the United States was the first nation to deploy atomic bombs as an instrument of war.
   The grounds on which we criticize the aggressions, murders, and rapes by the Japanese government or its military forces should be the same grounds on which we criticize those who praise and affirm the A-bombings of 1945.

   A huge air raid shelter at the foot of Mt. Hiji
   The naked devoid of skin
   Some lie supine
   Some lie prone
   Others sit cross-legged
   "Water, water" they cry in unison
   Our lovely child, burnt but alive
   My wife and I
   Place him on a door
   And bring him here among the naked
   That night among the ruins
   Of a house crushed by the blast
   His life cut short by the bomb
   Ebbed like the dying flame of a candle
   "Is there yohkan in Ojodo?"
   "And no war in Ojodo......," he murmured
   And then he was gone.

          (Yamamoto Yasuo , "The Naked Without Skin")

        [Yohkan: Sweet bean jelly
        Ojodo: Buddhist paradise, or nirvana,
        a place of great peace or bliss depicted in a polite manner]

   At roughly the same time as this horror was unfolding, the "Enola Gay" returned to the 509 Flying Corps air base on Tenian Island, having accomplished its mission to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Reports tell of a huge celebration thereafter -- an orgy with hundreds of pies for a pie-eating contest, dozens of cases of beers and lemonade, thousands of hot dogs, plenty of beef and fruit, plus "beautiful dancers".
   How can we eliminate the gross inequities such as the agony and misery experienced in Hiroshima from the face of the earth?
   Condoning the use of force and the misery caused thereof without any pity will inevitably breed more force and renewed misery, and any burden of lost lives would be buried once and forever. But above all, a peace based on a justification of murder, and a civilization built from a justification of the use of brute force, is a desecration of the human soul. A future for mankind based on a one-sided justification of indiscriminate mass slaughter is nothing but a sanguinary fool's paradise.

   "My feelings were to have them give me a hydrogen bomb instead of compensation. I wanted to drop it on America and have Americans taste our agony." These words were not those of a victim of Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Ikeda Masao was speaking at a press conference from his hospital bed in 1954. He was a crewman aboard the Fukuryu Maru No. 5, a tuna longliner fishing in the waters of Micronesia when the United States tested the world's first hydrogen bomb offshore from the Bikini atoll in the Marshall Islands on March 1, 1954. Of the 23 crewmen, Kuboyama Aikichi, a radio officer, died of radiation exposure on September 23. Other subsequent deaths were also attributed to the same exposure.
   Can these post-war victims of nuclear weapons be rationally justified by the nuclear powers, coming as they are in a time of peace and not declared war? These disasters are occurring throughout the world, and not just in Micronesia.
   In essence, nuclear weapons are the products of the rich nations, developed by fully mobilizing their technical and industrial resources, for the indiscriminate mass destruction of the weaker nations. This technology and ideology of the rich are a crime against humanity and the world. Narrow-minded patriotism and nationalism, a distorted egocentric view of history, and a base desire for revenge are exploited to affirm and condone, and to protect and strengthen the nuclear powers and their giant nuclear-related industries.

   Those who open the new page of history are the people who go beyond the self-constraint and step forward toward future. One study reveals that as many as 10% of all Americans believe that it was a mistake to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To me, this is an astonishingly large figure, and although it may seem strange, my feeling is that the ratio of such believers in Japan is less.
   Many Japanese believe that questioning the atomic bombings is not good for their own circumstances. In contrast, some conscientious Americans are thinking about the meaning of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is Martin Harwit, the former curator of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. There are the girls and boys planning to build the Children's Peace Statue, similar to the one already built in Hiroshima, in Los Alamos, New Mexico where the atomic bomb was developed. There are the Veterans for Peace who are critiquing America's war history. There are many other citizens of conscience.
   What does this mean? To me it signifies that opposition to nuclear arms is not an issue about obsolete and narrow-minded nationalism, but an issue concerning the conscience of individuals as human beings, as well as a concern for international solidarity.
   A few influential powerbrokers believe the status quo is good for them personally, and have dragged and trapped other unfortunate citizens into their own narrow world of hostility. I am convinced that many people, who reject such a status quo, will be able to align themselves with each other.
   To repeat what I have stated earlier, both the notion that Japan is the sole victim of atomic bombing, and the appeal that Japan will be the last victim, are clearly wrong. But, at the very least, we can say that "the United States of America should be the first and the last country to have used nuclear weapons in war thereby committing mass murder."
   We hereby quietly present this departure from the conventional wisdom to the innermost conscience of individuals which solemnly exists more universally within mankind.

★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★

            Portion added to the Forward
     upon changes in the approach to the translation

   In view of this state of affairs, the production of the English version of this book is quite symbolic.
   In the spring of 1995, Aurora Jiyuh Atelier received a thick package posted in Shiga Prefecture. Matsufuji Yaichiro, an English teacher at Shiga Prefecture Hachiman Business High School, had forwarded six different English versions of the book.
   As a graduation project, the six classes of third year students had each translated "Sadako To Senbazuru". We were very gratified with this unexpected gift, and we realized that it would be possible to expand this illustrated book project beyond the collaboration with SHANTI into a much broader joint product.
   Meanwhile, our plan to produce an English version soon after publication of the Japanese book had run into unexpected problems. We had negotiated early on with an American translator living in Japan, but it was evident that he had not been sincere. Our plan was to publish in August, which meant that the translation had to be completed by early June, but he had done virtually nothing by that date.
   We at once remembered the translated works of the 1994 graduating class of Hachiman Business High School.
   As I discussed earlier, English is the official language and mother tongue in the United States as well as in many other countries; and whether we like it or not, it has become the most useful tool for communication in today's world. In that sense, although the translations of the Hachiman students might not meet certain standards, their attempts could be qualitatively close to the work of SHANTI if one considers the other aspect of English as a means of communication, and even more so for the purpose of rendering this particular book into English.
   After numerous discussions, we decided to use the translated works of the generation of students younger than the SHANTI group. The final English manuscript was prepared by SHANTI members based on the translated works of the graduating class at Hachiman. As we stated in the acknowledgment, we were very fortunate to have received the help of many other people.

  [Yamaguchi Izumi : author, born in 1955, living in Tokyo. adviser of SHANTI.]

           (translated by Nikkei News Bulletin, Inc.)

Copyright1996 Yamaguchi Izumi.
No reproduction or republication without written permission.

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Original Japanese Version of This Text

【under construction】

The Explanation at the end of the Picture Book
“Sadako and Her Senbazuru”
of Korean Version
(written by SHANTI /
published by AURORA JIYU ATELIER in 1995)

【under construction】

about the Picture Book
“Sadako and Her Senbazuru”

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