Reopening Update: August 2020

Enjoy a CovidSafe visit to the National Library. Read more...

Nuclear Legacies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Nuclear Legacies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Lecture with Dr Yasuko Claremont
Fellowship presentation

Poems of the Atomic Bomb by Sankichi Tōge. Cover detail by Gorō Shikoku (reproduced with permission)
Recording date: 
13 June 2019

 

Beginning with Poems of the Atomic Bomb by Sankichi Tōge in 1951, Japan continues to produce literary and pictorial narratives of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - preserving memories of the catastrophe so it wouldn't be repeated.

Dr Yasuko Claremont explores responses to atomic bomb literature, including the work of Professor John Whittier Treat, author of Writing Ground Zero. 

2019 National Library of Australia Fellowship in Japan Studies supported by the Harold S Williams Trust. 

Image: Poems of the Atomic Bomb by Sankichi Tōge. Cover detail by Gorō Shikoku (reproduced with permission)

Transcript

June 13 Fellowship Presentation

 

*Speakers: Elizabeth Bailey (E), Yasuko Claremont (Y), Michael Rabey (M)

*Audience: (A)

*Location: National Library of Australia

*Date: Thursday 13 June 2019

 

E:         Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the National Library this evening for this fellowship presentation by Dr Yasuko Claremont on nuclear legacies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My name is Elizabeth Bailey and I’m currently Acting Director of the Overseas Collections and Metadata Management Branch. Part of my area of responsibility is the Overseas and Asian Collections.

Before I speak further I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we meet and pay respects to their elders both past and present, extending that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who are here this evening.

The National Library has been collecting material from and about Asia and the Pacific since the 1950s and now has a rich and diverse collection that attracts researchers from around the world. It is this wealth of research material that has drawn Yasuko to the Library on several occasions and we are very pleased to welcome her again as our Fellow in Japan Studies supported by the Harold S Williams Trust. This fellowship aims to promote the Library’s collections as a national resource for the study of Asia and encourage research based on the Japanese collections.

Now let me introduce Yasuko to you. As well as being a writer, translator and editor Yasuko has taught Japanese language and literature at the University of Sydney for 33 years. Among the many awards recognising her contribution to Japanese language and literature she cites the 2003 Faculty of Arts Teaching Excellence Award as one of her most treasured achievements.

Much of Yasuko’s work, publishing and research interest has centred on Japanese and Australian poetry and literature and how writers respond to war and its aftermath. In fact this fellowship project stems from her involvement in and commitment to post-war reconciliation. She’s an active member of the POW Research Network Japan and one of her books, Citizen Power: Post-war Reconciliation, highlighted the emergence of civic movements in Japan that were working to achieve reconciliation and friendship.

For her current research Yasuko has been exploring the Library’s holdings of atomic bomb literature, a specific genre of Japanese literature used to describe writing about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. She has been looking at how writers have responded to the atomic bombings across a variety of material and how representations of the bombings and their aftermath have changed over time. I understand Yasuko is already planning to highlight her research findings at a conference next year, focusing on nuclear resistance through art and reconciliation. So without further ado would you join me in welcoming Dr Yasuko Claremont?

Applause

Y:        Thank you very much, Elizabeth. First I should also like to pay respect to the traditional owners of the land. I can’t really pronounce properly I guess but Ngunnawal tribe of people where the Library stands. I would like to express my thanks to the Fellowship Selection Committee for granting me a fellowship supported by Harold Williams Trust.

Since my arrival I have been very kindly assisted by all of the Library staff, particularly the Japanese section in the Asian collections. Thank you very much for this. Also Coordinator, Fellowship Co-ordinator, Narelle Marlow, thank you. Of course I greatly appreciate all of you for tonight. It’s not the nice warm daytime or anything like that but thank you for coming to hear me.

So I shall start. The Asia Pacific war ended 73 years ago so it is history. However Hiroshima and Nagasaki still present unfinished business and contemporary perspectives relating to today’s nuclear world. My talk is about what I see as nuclear legacies stemming from the ongoing history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through the lens of literary and pictorial narratives that have continued responding to the atomic bombings.

My own guiding principle is fairness in this investigation. What I mean by this, for example, is what Dennis Harrison, a Sergeant in the Australian Army wrote about Hiroshima. So you can see what he said here. Now Harrison was one of the four Australians who first entered Hiroshima in September 1945 after Japan surrender. Harrison was a prisoner of war at Changi, Hellfire Pass on the Thailand-Burma Railway and Nakama, Japan. That’s Nagasaki prefecture. But he praised the bravery of the Japanese soldiers with their basic virtue of loyalty, cleanliness and courage. They fought to the last man, for example, at Tarawa of 4,500 Japanese soldiers fighting only 19 of them survived.

Harrison’s quotation above – the one that’s here – echoes my favourite, William Blake’s quote. Friendship and brotherhood, without it man is not. Harrison felt brotherhood towards his former enemy and reflected on his being part of the allied forces who dropped the atomic bombs. He understood that man can be a victim and in other circumstances he can be a – aggressor. I would like to pay attention on this kind of fairness in my discussion imbuing the nature of human beings who are capable of making errors such as nuclear accidents or through wrong decisions engaging in war but at the same time capable of reviving from them in redeeming the future.

We haven’t discussed these topics openly in public for a long time but I believe we have arrived at the point where we can acknowledge f[unclear] 8:49 in order to advance together. It would be too easy to be trapped in a simple dichotomy of friends and enemies or just and unjust. As human beings we have the capacity to take a role in both, directly or indirectly. Thanks to Article 9 in the Japanese constitution which renounces engaging in war. No Japanese have been killed in war since 1945 yet in the last 10 years or more the L[unclear] 9:35 Government wanted to change the constitution so that Japan can participate in war along with the US. I’m not sure whether peace can be sustained by the position of military powers.

On a current visit President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agreed to purchase 105 F35 fighter jets from America. President Trump was very happy and sounded like an arms dealer. In this book cover don’t you think that Abe looks like he’s saluting Trump? This is actually a book cover but I thought Abe is – he’s a cartoon but he’s saluting, I think.

So my discussion on nuclear legacies will be centreing around three points expressed by works of art. So responses to the atomic bombings, these include victim consciousness, survivors’ guilty consciousness and affirmation of loving humanity. Two, hibakusha, atomic bomb survivors in both cities leading the way to Japanese citizens’ nuclear disarmament movement. Three, the political intransigence still continuing towards vulnerable people.

These three points are all interrelated and inseparable so I shall discuss them through major features of nuclear legacies. Firstly, censorship and politics of Hiroshima and Nagaskai. During the seven years of occupation period, 1945 to 1952 any information and activities regarding atomic bombings was censored. These were also censored in the United States as well until President Reagan’s memorial speech in 1985 for 10 American POWs whose atomic bomb death was official acknowledged and commemorated. [Shigiakimori] 12:37, a local historian of Hiroshima proved through his research in 2008 that there were actually 12 American POWs who were killed by the atomic bomb.

So 10 days before the headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in Tokyo began operation the United States Army Forces in the Pacific found the Civil Information and Education section, CIE on 22nd September 1945. The CIE began educating the Japanese people by issuing documents through the media of their own versions of what had happened during the war. While the International Military Tribunal stressed Japanese war guilt such as the atrocities committed in Nanking and [Medina] 13:59, on the other hand in the eye of CIE the atomic bombings were not atrocities.

It has been a common consensus that the atomic bombings were necessary to end the war whereby the US had made a right decision. The survivors of the Japanese atrocities believes that because of Japanese war crimes the bombs were dropped as punishment. Such historical debates aside the reality of the bombings was recorded by the atomic bomb survivors. On the day when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima the people who are on the spot and who were capable of recording and drawing the disaster immediately created their invaluable works such as drawings, testimonies, diaries or poetry. Notable writers, poets who are also Hibakusha such as Sankichi Tōge, Tamiki Hara, [Yoko Oka] 15:31, Sadako Kurihara published their literary works through their perspectives which expressed the significant of what the disaster meant to them.

Being on the spot they were appalled with the sheer reality of unparalleled brutality that the explosion inflicted on Hiroshima. For that immense grief of innocent countless victims they were determined to make a record for the victims. In doing so they expected that their works would surely alert generations never to get into such a situation. Hara Tamiki, Hara’s trilogy of Hiroshima stories and poems for example were of pure sadness in themselves in the midst of unimaginable cruelty. His best known story, Natsu no Hana, Summer Flowers, published in 1947 contains this poem expressing destructive powers of the atomic bomb.

This one I like to read. Broken pieces glittering and grey-white cinders, a vast panorama that strange [unclear] 17:19 human corpses burnt red. Was all this real? Could it be real? The universe henceforth stripped in a flash of everything. The wheels of overturned streetcars, the bellies of the horses distended. The smell of electric wires smouldering and sizzling. His description of atomic desert that Hiroshima had become was apocalyptic.

A monument of Hara’s later poem before he committed suicide in 1951 was placed near the peace stone in Hiroshima. It reads, an image of a single flower crumbling down in mid-air shadowed on the sands, engraved in stone of long ago.

Those writers were the founders of atomic bomb literature, the same goes with artist who has painted as close as possible to what they actually saw and heard about the disaster. I just quickly show you some representative images. This artist, [Vokui] 19:04, was established western-style oil painter so he was there so 9am, that is nearly one hour after the bombing so that’s his sketch. The following morning what he has seen, this one. Then in 1952 he exhibited this work 15 minutes after the explosion. He was the very first artist who left the images or paintings or sketches.

Now in Nagasaki this is actually scroll and it’s called Kiyo No Arashi. Kiyo is the old name of Nagasaki so – and his name is Fukami Noritaka. He was a – art teacher but he also commit suicide too. This scroll, you can see it in the Peace Museum in Nagasaki. So you can see this kind of scroll page – oh not the page is scrolling down, it’s quite effective. Also I’d like to show you another one, it’s a very famous one, it’s called Hiroshima panels - 15 of them - this it the first one entitled Ghost. I’m interested in the medium artists use. This is the sort of holding screens whereas the scroll is also one of traditional Japanese device to tell stories, what’s happened.

Now this one is – I just wanted to show you some things quickly. This one is actually the Library has. You can see the USA and this one is a game and it’s small, it’s about the hand size but what happened is in children’s game so they moved it then you can see – put the pin ball. I mean it’s in the corner, there’s a plastic one and inside there’s a small metal ball. So when you’re juggling it and that goes to – not Tokyo but Hiroshima or Nagasaki. So it’s a sort of a reflection of the time, I think, late 1940s, I should imagine, or ‘50s but that’s the – how the Americans perceive what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So back to my thing here is the Genbaku shishū so the flyer, you got this picture as well. So this covers image of booklet and this is the facsimile thing, facsimile book of the – so you can see very small. So this one was published 1951 by the poet, Sankichi Tōge. With the design of the cover and the inside cover by Gorō Shikoku. He’s a painter. Here is a – so here I like to show some poems so Tōge’s poems were stencilled out into a booklet of 500 copies. At the time there was severe shortage of everything, paper or food but they manage it, both worked it together.

As we have seen in other paintings and atom bomb victims were featured in anonymous mass, there’s no individuality whereas individual identity was totally depleted. One of the poems is entitled [Bokio Grey Post] 24:48 which describe the site where 160 children and teachers of a primary school once stood. They were all killed instantly, vaporised at that site on that day. Nothing was left at all. The signage was only a low wooden post with a broken bamboo vessel for flowers leaning against the post without flowers. No-one could tell about what had happened at the epicentre yet the poet imaginatively encouraged them to come out.

The last stanza reads, cry out wow in your clear voice. With your shining innocent eyes spring up to fight against the adult who want war and open your arms and embrace anyone, pressing your cheeks to anyone’s heart, reminding them of your tears of justice. You are the children of Hiroshima, jump at everyone, jump.

So Tōge and Shikoku both worked together and produced about 100 [tugishi] 26:22 street poem posters half the size of a full newspaper sheet from 1950 to 1953. Each one has on it a painting by Shikoku and a poem by Tōge, both expressing angry condemnations of the atomic bomb and the occupation. With the GHQ press code in full operation Tōge and Shikoku removed the posters as quickly as possible when police were nearby. They wanted desperately to appeal to the people to never allow the US to use the atomic bomb again especially in Korea. This is one tiny example of Hiroshima citizens’ movement of nuclear disarmament. Only eight posters survived and I can show you just one.

There is no doubt of the tragedy of atomic bombings however at the same time, thanks to globalisation, the Japanese people gradually realised how they were seen by neighbouring countries, particularly countries where Japan had colonised Korea, invaded China, Malaysia, Singapore and controlled South Sea islands. The Japanese were aggressors. Hitoshi Motoshima, a Christian and former Mayor of Nagasaki openly warned the people in a provocative way by quoting Tōge’s well known poem, Give Back Human Beings, and its famous lines, give back the fathers, give back the mothers. Motoshima asked whose words they were. He said that the words must be of the Chinese children whose parents were slaughtered by the Japanese military in northern China, the victims of the Imperial Japanese Army, the three alls policy, kill all, burn all, loot all must have dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Motoshima here was opposing an increasing trend of right wing nationalism through the victim consciousness.

Hiroshima used to be a city of the military headquarters in that region, the fifth division of the Imperial Army. Its 11th regiment of soldiers were responsible for the atrocities committed in Malaysia and Singapore. [Susiko Numata] 29:56, hibakusha and the peace campaigner of Hiroshima apologised to a group of people from Malaysia whose village was destroyed by the Imperial Japanese Army and many were killed. They were invited to come to Japan to give their witness account by the Japanese citizens’ groups. They also heard [Numata’s] painful experience when her leg was crushed under the building blown by the atomic blast at the age of 21. Both parties shared the pain of the incidents.

In 1950 when the Korean war began the possibility of the use of another atomic bomb by America was alarming people, particularly hibakusha. There was huge international outcry for no nuclear war and the World Peace Council approved Stockholm Appeal which collected millions of signatories. The US dismissed it as that – the Soviet Union’s propaganda. Nevertheless atomic bombs were not used in the Korean war as well as the Vietnam war.

So move to a second one. Secondly I like to mention about the number 5 Lucky Dragon incident in 1954. In the Pacific another disaster occurred, a Japanese tuna fishing boat called Lucky Dragon was showered with radiation fallout coming from the US Castle Bravo nuclear bomb test at the Bikini Atoll. All 23 crew were affected and one died from acute radiation syndrome even though they were out of exclusion zone. The immediate fatality was of one person, Aikichi Kuboyama, but the overall impact was tremendous because it was crucial for the Japanese staple diet of fish.

This incident became a nationwide campaign in Japan for no nuclear testing and nuclear disarmament. Japan’s citizens’ peace movement in a large scale began from a woman running a fish monger shop in the Suginami ward, Tokyo in 1954. That’s Suginami Ward Women’s Association and many other groups nationwide collected 32 million signatories. This citizens’ movement led to the world congress – Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs held in 1955. This appeal however did not stop the nuclear bomb testings in the world. According to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation more than 2,050 times nuclear testings were conducted between 1945 to 2013 in which more than 500 testings were inside the atmospheric zone. Although what exact radiation effect in the atmosphere and the sea and on the land are unknown certainly the [unclear] 34:27 has been polluted.

Particularly almost all the testing sites belongs to the native people. Some of them could not return to their homeland including Maralinga, South Australia. The United States paid compensation to those who were affected and ill but not for their daily living environment. In Writing Ground Zero John Whittier Treat mentioned that the concept of hibakusha now has to extend to everyone alive today in any region of the planet.

I would like to show you some images of number 5 Lucky Dragon. So after the incident the boat was renamed or cleaned up and then used for some time but then in the end as the – this one is actually photographs – ended up in the dumping ground of Tokyo. It’s called Yumenoshima but it is a dumping ground. But it was discovered by a – office worker, [Koichi Buto] 36:09 who sent a letter to [Azahishimvun] 26:12 in 1968. He said that the number 5 Lucky Dragon represents our wishes for peace. It now lies down to be destroyed very soon. Let us join together to preserve this boat to show and tell what had happened at the Bikini Atoll in 1954 as we had succeeded in preserving the atomic bomb dome before demolishing it in Hiroshima. This restoration and housed this boat into I guess warehouse was all done by private – I mean citizens. So that boat is in the house here. It’s only a wooden boat.

Now I like to show more – a few pictures. This one is Ben Shahn, the picture book for the children and it’s called Lucky Dragon series published in 1961. Shahn drew an unknown monster in the nuclear clouds. Can you see the monster inside? That’s triggered sort of monster film industries such as Godzilla but of course at that time King Kong was very popular as well. So – and this one is [Marikey’s] 38:22 painting called Yaizu. That was Lucky Dragon’s home port and you can see the group of people in angry face.

So while nuclear war did not occur the US-led Atoms for Peace programs promoted widely in the world from the 1950s, Japan was recovering economically and enjoying peace under the presence of the US military bases in Japan. Gradually people didn’t pay attention to the atomic bomb disasters as if they were the things of the past. However hibakusha have never forgotten their experiences, they were not artist or writers yet they participated in the movement of transferring their experiences to future generations through whatever the means that they could think of.

One case is the call for citizens’ paintings was promoted by Gorō Shikoku who appeared on the media to encourage how people of Hiroshima can preserve memories of that fatal day by drawing and if necessary make a note. Over 2,000 paintings with or without notes along with their paintings were collected. These paintings are now kept comprehensively by dates, places and topics and of course names at the Hiroshima Peace Museums and everyone can see it online.

So preservation of memories of the atomic bombings can also be seen in large publications of literature and manga, for example. In 1966 Masuji Ibuse published Black Rain. It was translated into English by John Bester in 1971. He joined atomic bomb writers but Ibuse himself had no firsthand experiences. Ibuse used extensive resources such as diaries, testimonies and newspapers. The success of Black Rain earned him the Order of Cultural Merit in 1966, the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a Japanese author. Twenty-one years lapsed between the atomic bombings and publication of Black Rain revealing what authors’ attitude towards what the atomic bomb meant to him. Ibuse’s case, according to John Whittier Treat was the celebration of Japanese daily life packed with tradition and rituals no matter how the extraordinary event took place, that is the atomic bombing.

Today’s point of view, the nationalistic and the paternal world of Black Rain is of nostalgia, that characters remain victims although passages like, I would like to live in a country without the government or I would prefer unjust peace than just war, a mild criticism of the ruling government.

Thirdly and finally atomic bomb literature into the form of [monogaterie] 43:07. [Monogaterie] is the – again is the one traditional forms of literary device such as scroll is one or holding panel and also [monogaterie] as you know Tale of Genji. They all put the subjects, [monogaterie]. So this – in English [monogaterie] would be an epic or you may call it historiography or a mystery of facts and fiction. Atom bomb literature and artwork includes more widened dimensions such as a Korean atomic bomb victims as well as Okinawans who have been forced to be sacrificed by the Japanese Government to enter hardship during the war time even now. So you can see the literary presentation of atom bomb over the period has been changing.

So these are manga here. Two strands of Genbaku manga – that’s atom bomb manga. It’s -masculinity and femininity can be observed. So I’ll just show the picture. I don’t want to take up too much time just my talking but I just want to show you. This one is Barefoot Gen, Keiji Nakazawa and it is a serialised manga, 1973 to 1987 for a journal, Weekly Boys’ Jump, has become extremely successful not only in Japan but also overseas. It was translated into 20 different languages and I heard a section of this manga has been used as a school text in Thailand.

So this one is not that old current one, of course, it’s feminine aspect of hibakusha so the colour and - this is a lady manga artist, [Kono Humio] 45:50. She uses the very pastel type of beautiful colours so it’s been very popular. [Kono’s] characters, particularly females, are exceptionally pretty and obedient, in other words, a model of old-fashioned image, nostalgia. However in the air raid the heroine was injured and her husband, child and niece was killed. At that time she lost her right hand which was crucial for her when she engaged in drawing pictures, her favourite pastime pleasure. She became then to be her own person, to overcome her difficulties by using her left hand. She even extinguished bravely her house fire when the bomb went into the roof of the house.

So the output in art about Hiroshima and Nagasaki mostly express victim consciousness. Certainly the atom annihilation was absolutely inhumane and those who were killed and survived were innocent victims. Other - often survivors are tormented by guilty consciences and this was featured in Hisashi’s play called The Face of Jesu as well.

So because time is short now I would like just to show you some of the pictures but see this one is the [Adonis] 48:13 famous saying but we still believe in enjoyment of writing and producing poetry, of course. This picture shows the Okamoto Taro, the artist. Just go back to his first one when he was - at the time of – here, 1955. Burning people. What this burning people is – Lucky Dragon incident and crew covered with a white ash and then by the time they arrived in the port their faces get black because it was ready or active element. So he’s using that sort of internal burning here.

The same one, this one, later he expanded so like this right hand is a big mural. Part of the mural – if anyone has been to Shibuya Station you can see this one. Then current group of artist, young group of artist wanted to do something about the nuclear threat so they put up extra ones to your right-hand side. That is the [higushima] 49:52 meltdown. Of course they did it illegally however it causes a very big publicity.

So I just quickly finish my presentation so only two days ago I received the booklet. This booklet, it’s free of charge and you can download from online. It’s called The Story of Johan. So the booklet contains The Story of Johan in three languages, Japanese, Dutch and English published by the Association of Netherland, Japan, Indonesia Dialogue. The booklet has lessons for children in the ages of 10 to 14 and discuss history by way of the story of a navy sailor, Johan, who was a Dutch POW of the Japanese during the war. He was Koyagi, Nagasaki where 2015 – this is the site – 2015, a memorial service took place and the opening of the memorial stones with the names of 73 dead in the camp, one of the highest numbers of death in the POW camps in Japan. They died of illness, starvation and maltreatment.

Now this dialogue group put together stories of Johan to educate young people. Thanks to them Nagasaki is no longer just a place of atomic bomb victims but of learning from the history of Japan’s aggression. I shall stop here and thank you for listening to me. Thank you.

Applause

Y:        Sorry about that.

E:         Thank you, Yasuko, for that very interesting and thoughtful insight into what must be a very difficult and complex topic for you to research. We have time now for some questions so I will open the floor to the audience. Since we’re recording the session I’d ask if you wait for the microphone to come with you before you ask your question.

A:        Thank you, Yasuko, for your talk. Until now, and Elizabeth and I were saying this a few weeks ago, we didn’t know there was such a thing as atomic bomb literature and you’ve taught us something new today, I think. I wanted to ask you about a comment you made earlier about the association between victim consciousness and right wing nationalism and you also referred after that to the kind of – the broad sweep of atomic bomb literature covering other things than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So what does that mean in the modern world? As you say Japan has placed an order for military hardware, there are signs of right wing nationalism across Europe. What does that mean in terms of this perception of victimhood? Is there a strong link or do you think it’s just an association?

Y:        Well I guess I couldn’t answer absolutely correctly or anything but I would think if the Japanese insisted on being victim other people might think otherwise so acknowledging the past and then we can start or advance together but of course President Trump must be supporting his arm manufacturers and factories obviously. But I think we are at the point that we can’t have a nuclear war because we are too close to each other. But in the politics they wanted to be dominant over other people so whether we should accept it, that sort of scenario but if we think about future then there must be some way we will have to control ourselves. That’s my understanding. We can’t go too far to extreme way. I am the controller, that’s sort of a way is no longer possible. So of course we have a United Nations so there’s discussions and collection of signatories. People are all doing the best they can do to prevent nuclear warfare but these things takes time and also steps.

For example I often mention this one, is the landmine and the number of treaties all over the world and people are persuading government not to use the land mine. So it’s gradual steps towards disarmament so it can’t be done overnight therefore even high school students trying to get something they can do and look, Japanese Government still don’t ratify the treaty. So I often said to them that you can do what you think you – the best you can. The voices, that such voices are collected together then it’ll be a common knowledge shared everybody then that something should happen. We still haven’t seen it but we can’t stop disasters to come. That’s my understanding. Sorry, I’m probably explaining too much.

A:        Yasuko, thank you very much. Kent Anderson. In your examples you had some groups which had direct experience of the atomic bombs, some writers. You had another group of writers in the ’50s and ’60s that did not have direct experience of the bombs but had experience of the war and the aftermath. Then you also introduced some writers who are contemporary, who would have no direct experience. I wonder if the sense of idealism in those different groups comes through differently in the literature that you’ve looked at?

Y:        Yes, that is the – I’m trying to work things out and particular notion of this, Japanese [visually] 59:00 devices such as scroll, lots of paintings but [monogaterie] is that sort of narratives, interesting, everyone can enjoy reading it. Because the founders of atom bomb literature were hibakusha so that sheer reality they experienced and they left works from which future – coming generations learned from them. So – but of course it’s the first hibakusha can only - of course some are noticed Korean victims or American POWs, nonetheless they couldn’t bring up those problems because they were absolutely traumatised. So that’s the first one and then second one, Ibuse, again, he uses the diary of a particular person or newspapers so it’s resources that’s supporting his writing. But this is the novel, that means he [stitches] 00:37 everything in terms of how he values Japanese society, even that sort of extraordinary things happened, life still going on, daily life going on.

So that – his way of value of life, I guess, in Japanese but then [Kono Humio], example that in the manga artist, she has no knowledge or anything but she was asked to – the publisher to – you are from Hiroshima, you must write something about Hiroshima then she have to – again it’s resources-hunting. So when you look at her book of manga, at the back there’s a lot of references and notable references and unless otherwise authenticity’s lacking so that’s sort of reinvented but in her case I mentioned that female, femininity so she thinks that woman at that time very obedient, marriage took place without seeing future husband. Nonetheless they get on well but gradually she get – realised what actually happened if anything extraordinary happened, in this case, she was in Korea, not Hiroshima but that sort of external event changed her life. So it’s a woman’s, it’s a gender-orientated way to look at things so from now on writers or painters, they are thinking what happened 73 years ago and how we have wealth of works with us but express – re-expressed way - what they think what is the nuclear age we are living.

So the artist I mentioned about the – this extended to Okamoto Tarō’s, old one to new one so this one, you see so they did more than this one, actually so – and the boat is there, that’s Okamoto Tarō’s, that Lucky Dragon boat is there. So they added their way of looking at so of course this is their sort of technological age so Instagram is one of them so they can put them altogether. It’s a – I can’t remember the words but it’s a collaboration of all sorts so it’ll be more and more interesting, I would think. Thank you.

A:        Kind of going off that question and the answer to that question, as hibakusha get older and there are fewer and fewer of them and living in the world in which we live today, in Writing Ground Zero Treat says that the kind of nuclear threat that we live with now is something that we accept, it’s – he likens it to an earthquake. It’s a huge catastrophe if it happens but it’s there, it exists but we kind of happily deny it. How are young people engaging with this atomic literature? Are they still reading with it? Are they still engaging with it in the same way perhaps that their parents or grandparents would? Are younger people still producing this kind of literature, either traditionally or perhaps in more modern digital mediums?

Y:        Because – I think – because in old days than 1945 in the censorship Hiroshima wasn’t known to – bombings weren’t noticed to by other part of Japanese people so they really had a disadvantage, of course. So young people love cartoons, the manga, that’s why this Barefoot Gen is the one but being a masculine boys’ manga it’s full of actions and blood and everything. But then [Kono’s] woman’s manga is much gentler so – to my understanding young people likes to videos, Instagrams, how they can recreate something new, for example remember the Lucky Dragon incident? Ben Shahn wrote this wonderful drawings for children and show the monster and then that monster develop into a Godzilla type of monsters. Again that sort of – I wouldn’t say eye-catching but it’s something threat in – visualised in other ways that will be creating something new. So probably young generations don’t think too much about this bombings per se but creating with that, something new to appeal to them so gender items is perfectly one of them.

A:        Thank you. I’ve read Black Rain, that’s why I’m here tonight, one of the reasons why I’m here. I’ve read quite a lot of material on nuclear testing and the people that have been killed since on these test sites or around the test sites but a lot of that is not published, it’s unknown, there’s not a lot of literature about it unless you go searching for it. I’m very, very frightened about the nuclear rhetoric that’s going on in the world at the moment involving Trump and North Korea and there’s a lot of people I think that think that nuclear warfare is inevitable. I wish it wouldn’t be but there’s India, there’s Pakistan, there’s China, there’s all sorts of nations now that are promoting nuclear weaponry and I’m very frightened about the future.

Y:        Well I think we share the same sentiment, of course, yeah. Of course. As I said we are living on the edge where something might happen but we still enjoy daily life and so long as we stick to what we values in our daily life, just Ibuse Masuji’s Black Rain, and extraordinary things might have happened, might not or may not be but it’s important to know what our activities are. It’s not always is the campaign is the way to go or collecting our signatures but what we value and the more the people feels the same way, and of course it’s on TV every day where you have otherwise, however I’m still trusting something worthwhile and valuable things to appear. For example this one and this is a site where POW camp once stood and Harrison was here too, actually, and after 70 years the group, citizens’ group make a booklet about the Dutch POWs’ story and school text and with lessons, question and answers. So this is activities and I value for that because without these very steady work – it’s not the government work, our activities that make difference. May not be a great change or anything but great change will come from these little ones. That’s my belief.

E:         Thank you, everybody, for your insightful questions but our time here has come to an end. Thank you all for your attendance tonight –

Y:        Sorry, I just have to quickly – Michael Rabey. Michael will tell us what happened in Canberra. There’s a peace bell.

M:        Yes, my name’s Michael Rabey, I’m the Coordinator of the Canberra Rotary Peace Bell. I was going to be really fast but I just want to take a bit longer. In 1954 Chiyoji Nakagawa, a soldier who fought in China – I’m not sure if he was at Nanking but he was in China and then he was in Burma and in Burma he was wounded, unconscious. He came back to consciousness and he heard the sound of a temple bell and it reminded him of his childhood and having fought for so long he had this moment when he said I must do something and so he created the first world peace bell which he donated to the United Nations using coins at that time donated by 63 countries. That peace bell is still at New York at the United Nations and it’s rung each year on World Peace Day.

After he died and in the ‘80s another Japanese businessman started to reproduce bells and there are now 24 of them in the world and number 23 sits beside Lake Burley Griffin. It was brought to Canberra by the Rotary Club and I just wanted to say to you tonight that on the 6th of August at 9:15am Australian time which is 8:15 in Hiroshima the Canberra Rotary Peace Bell will be rung and simultaneously an ancient bell in [Nowra] 13:38 will be rung. I also believe the Christchurch Peace Bell will be rung at that time as well to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So I agree with you it’s little things, small things where we can stand up for what is right such as the nearly 3,000 people who attended the Peace Bell for a vigil to Christchurch on the 19th of March, four days after the event and also like the group of people who will gather at the Peace Bell on Saturday at 11:00 to remember Colombo.

Also like the fact that we recognise Dr Sue Wareham as the first recipient of the Canberra Rotary Peace Prize for her work with ICAN and like the Japanese Government the Australian Government has also chosen not to sign the treaty against nuclear weapons but if enough of us speak up things can happen. But in the first instance on Saturday and then on the 6th of August you're welcome to come and show your support for peace over other – peace over war. Thank you.

E:         Thank you.

Y:        Thank you.

E:         So yes, thank you, everybody, for coming tonight and thank you again to Yasuko for being here and presenting all your research. I would like to invite you all now to join Yasuko up in the foyer where refreshments are being served. Thank you.

Applause

End of recording

Download transcript 187.48 KB

Recent audio All recent audio