A Travellerspoint blog

War Criminals

Nothing like heavy a dose of mass torture to make your troubles pale in comparison.

Today we headed out into the morning overcast to tour around the Hiroshima memorial sights. First off we made our way to the Atomic Bomb Dome, the symbol for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

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Here they had free tour guides walking around with booklets of information and pictures that you could be taken through. Joe and I joined a group from Australia listing to one man speak. He was a survivor of the blast, a mere child at the time, but his mother was a survivor as well. He told us her story of how she was at home, outside the main city, and how she was waiting in desperate hope for her husband to come home as they watched their city burn. Here is a link to her memoir:

My Father's Sixth of August, 1945 in Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima story -- Mito Kosei and his family

In February, 2009 our guide at the Hiroshima Peace Park, Mr. Mito Kosei received an award from the Hiroshima International Cultural Foundation. The Foundation presented awards to two groups and two individuals to honor their efforts to promote international relations.

Because of his strong belief that everyone should know what happened in Hiroshima, Mr. Mito became a volunteer guide in the Hiroshima Peace Park in 2006, when he retired as a high school English teacher. He has guided 46,300 visitors (including 9,500 foreign visitors from 115 countries). He is now teaching trainee guides how to guide in Japanese and English.

Mr. Mito sent us the story that his mother, Mrs. Mito Tomie, had written about that fateful day when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Mr. Mito said, "Please read her story and remember Hiroshima."

And here is a picture of Joe and Mito:

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He guided us through photos of the buildings, and drawings made by children of people who resemble bloody zombies more than citizens of Hiroshima. He also told us about the experiments done on the survivors of Hiroshima. Of how they had control groups much grater in number to the treated groups not due to lack of treatment facilities or medicines, but simply out of scientific curiosity. "What happens next?" They would continue bringing in survivors to check how their growths were forming, how their pain was increasing, how their health was depredating, while stock piles of aid were stacking up. They did this because the effects of being hit by the nuclear blast were so vast, that almost every person exhibited different reactions depending on the dosage they received, their age, their genetics, the list goes on and on. But maybe worst of all, a fact I never knew, the United Stated of America has yet to submit an apology to Japan for committing this wartime atrocity. How can we stand tall, take the moral high ground, and say we are the land of the free, home of the brave, and yet drop 2 nuclear bombs on civilian cities, torturing / killing almost 200,000 people, and never, not even 65 years later, admit that doing so was wrong.

And here is my Hiroshima rant, feel free to skip down to the next part

International law that expressly forbids targeting the civilian population. But I guess that doesn't matter since the Geneva Convection was signed after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So it was okay? Right?

I think you will have to agree with me that it is not okay, and so why have we not apologized for this yet? If Americans were living in Japan, and they forced them to live in internment camps, and if they nuked Honolulu and Seattle, would we have ever forgiven them? They attacked navy bases, and we retaliated by attacking their civilian populated cities.

But here is the key: they have forgiven us without our apology.

This is why I assumed that we had apologized for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They have forgiven us, so we think that everything must be okay. Japan has very good relations with the USA, so we must have apologized. But we have not. We would never forgive them if they did to us what we did to them, plain and simple. Not even if they submitted a formal apology. But they have forgiven us, and I think that is why we are off the hook. I think that if the Japanese weren't so Buddhist about what happened, then the international community, if not the American people themselves, would have a huge outcry for the USA to atone for this unspeakable evil. We are a Christian nation (apologies for everyone who disagrees), so shouldn't we repent?

And here is my last point on this rant I'm having: We did not bomb the Japanese because of what they did to us, or to the Chinese, or to end the war with them. We bombed them to show Soviet Russia what we can do if they cross us.

Winston Churchill:
"It would be a mistake to suppose that the fate of Japan was settled by the atomic bomb. Her defeat was certain before the bomb fell."

It was not necessary for the war with Japan to drop the atomic bomb. Not even once. But we did it twice. Why? To prove to Russia that we could. This wasn't a one time deal. We have this weapon, and we can use it again and again. Now how many people want to argue that Japan should apologize for Pearl Harbor before we apologize for doing something to them because we are worried about Russia? We didn't attack their cities because of anything they had done, we did it to prevent the Russians from becoming aggressive towards us. The Japanese just gave us the excuse we needed to do what we wanted to do in the first place. In all fairness, Germany would have been the better choice for the bombs, but they never gave us the excuse. They never attacked our soil. And so, it was the Japanese who suffered and died at our self righteous hands, and we still cannot say we are sorry.

End of Hiroshima rant

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The above memorial is for all of the children who died in Hiroshima, and for all of the ones who survived, either mutilated, diseased, or healthy but whose futures were cut down, and dashed into so many little peaces as it was up to them to clean up the dead, to scrape for food, to become the head of so many broken households. These children never had a chance to be children, so this is their memorial. Hung from it are so many colorful origami swans that children string up to this day to honor these brave children.

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Here you can see Joe touching concrete that survived the blast. Since the bomb exploded in the air, and not on the ground, most everything was struck by the energy blast, hence why the city was caught on fire more than disintegrated.

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It was raining hard now, and so Joe and I stayed inside this memorial. It takes you down a circling ramp with writings on the walls, taking you slowly back in time. At the base you enter the room you have been circling, and in the middle is another clock, like the above one, but eerily lit with a lime green light, and a blue hue around its base where water pools from the fountain that runs down its sides. Then as you walk around the room, you can see a panorama of the city after the bombing. It is hard to pick out any buildings other than the Atomic Dome. Most others are so far beyond destroyed. Then beneath the photographs of the city, are the names of the families who lived in those areas. They had benches in this room where you can just sit and take it all in. Joe and I did this as we mimicked so many other people who walked into this room with us. We held each other. Nobody walked through this room like so many other museums, hands either held behind their back as they observed, or pointing out areas of interest. Everyone held onto someone else. This was not a room to be alone in. It was a room to hold onto the person next to you, and let them know that you are glad to be alive with them in this moment in time, forever paused at 8:15am.

After we left the room it was still raining really hard, so we spent maybe an hour in the memorial library, sitting at the computers, watching documentaries, looking through photos, and listening to people talk about how they were there, how they remember how their clothes clung to their skin, and they couldn't tell where their clothes stopped, and their body started. It was horribly depressing, and the rain pounded on the tin roof as a constant reminder that it ain't any better outside of this tomb.

When I finally couldn't take it anymore, we hid through the trees for the museum.

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At the museum Joe bought us some chocolate, and I got us a hot, thick, sweet green tea.

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That is the peace drum given to Japan from Korea. It was all we really had time to see since the museum was closing in 5 minutes, and we both agreed that it was probably better that way. We had seen and heard enough for the day, and it was nice to end on that note.

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Next to the Peace Park was an out door/ in door shopping mall, so we walked around and searched for some new shoes for Joe, some vegetables for dinner, and cookies. I decided that we needed cookies. Joe was really hungry at this point, but I couldn't really think of lunch, and then we found a happy compromise, something that we both really needed that day. We found our first Japanese Subway! Joe got his foot long sub, and I got my 3 cookies and a juice box of milk.

Then, as the rain was letting up, we walked back to our hostel, and we held each other. He kept rubbing his hands up and down my arm as I shivered because of the cold, or at least that is what I told myself it was because of. The wind bit through me that day, and my body had no defenses to it, none other than Joe's warm body curled around my own. I was grateful for our civility. Even though Joe hadn't made a formal break up, in my mind, we may as well have been. Thats just the way I operated. But I still could take in small pleasures, tiny comforts that made me not go screaming into the night, and right now, Joe's arm around my shoulder was all that was stopping me from doing just that.

We popped open the lap top at the hostel in the cafeteria since we couldn't use it together as we had male and female separated dorms. But we were the only ones at the hostel at the time, so we camped out on the long cushioned benches, lying down on our sides, Joe holding me from behind, and we watched several episodes of Castle.

That evening while Joe was continuing his financial brawl with his bank/ credit card he skyped with my mom, and this is when I lost that lingering warmth I had inside from our day of holding and mourning. "No Vanessa, I'm serious!" Joe was talking to my mom about the money from his account that was supposed to be transferred into my Key Bank. Japan had hit my bank account hard as we were planning on using some of Joe's money when we got to Japan, but his bank has apparently shut his account down b/c someone keeps trying to get into it from all these different Asian countries (strange, right?). We finally had my mom scrounge up some blank checks we each made before leaving, and had her fill one out to me from Joe's account. This seemed to have worked, as my bank accepted the check, and the funds were being processed. So we couldn't use his ATM card, but we could just transfer funds from his bank to mine, and then transfer those funds into the AAA travel Visa card for us to use at ATM's. My bank account was below 1,000 dollars, so we couldn't use any of those funds to reload our AAA card b/c I needed money in there to pay my credit card bill that was getting sizable since we didn't have any money on the AAA card. But, my mom had transferred almost all the money I had in my account into the AAA card while Joe's check processed, and normally that would be fine, but I had a credit card being paid at the exact time that the money would be gone from my Key Bank, and Joe's money would yet to be transferred into it! "Mom, you needed to transfer the money from Joe's account into the AAA!" Joe stopped me again. He would not let me go in front of the computer. "She's my mother!" "Yes, and your upsetting her!" We had a hushed argument away from the computer that even if I talked calmly and rationally, it would only make matters worse, and that he was handling it. He said that me talking with her would only upset her, and that just by hearing my voice for those few sentences I got off before he silenced me, she was sent into a teary panic. "You are just like your father!" Something caught in my throat, I couldn't breath, as if the wind had been knocked out of me. This was not the first time I had heard those words spoken to me. All defiance in me wilted and died.

My voice, just the sound of my voice, for those few moments before Joe leaped out of his chair and hushed me up, caused my mother to crumble apart. What kind of a monster was I? Who am I? What was I?

I am a self righteous, bully.

I am an American.

I am Rain, no, I am Vanessa.

Why wasn't I Rain yet? Or better yet, why was Rain seeming like worse of a person than Vanessa ever was? Whats in a name? Something deeper, something more core needed altering, I needed to be someone else. Who I was, wasn't a person. Joe didn't want to even look at me anymore, my mom didn't want to hear me anymore, I was all alone.

All alone, due to no other fault, than who I am, what I am. Is it to late to say I'm sorry? Would the people in my life be like Japan? I think they already have been. How many times can I be forgiven without apologizing? I think Joe may have a number, or at least he has a time. 4 years.

Posted by - Rain 16:06

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Vanessa, this is totally wrong. I didn't cry because of what you said, I cried because Joe told me that you were too angry with me to talk to me. I kept asking him to put you on, and he said, no, you were too mad to talk to me, and it hurt me that you woldn't talk to me, so he was not doing the middle man very well, he told you i was upset by talking to you, and he told me you wouldn't talk to me. That is why I was so upset. Of course, you are not a monster, you are perfect and I love you!

by georgi r

also, i think all Americans are horrified by Hiroshima. i don't believe it was for the Soviet's, i believe it was in retalitation for the thousands we lost in the attack on America's soldiers at Pearl Harbor, when we were not at war with Japan. if America didn't defeat Japan, there was only one island between Japan and the California coast. i disagree completely with the attack on innocents. but, the story is that Americans were attacked by a country they were not at war with, with no warning. i am horrified by Hiroshima. It was wrong, so horrifically wrong, no excuse for it.

by georgi r

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