Sunday, March 21, 2004
hacking off the arm of peace
Like I mentioned before, it's tough for me to get news about back home. So you can imagine my shock when I heard about this:
Peace Statue Vandalized
During my time at the UW, especially my last 3 years, I walked by that statue all the time from my apartment to class and back. As a person who is Asian-American, I suppose I'm very conscious of WWII and host of issues it unleashed: the internment of Japanese Americans; the post-war lifting of the Chinese Exclusion Act that allowed Chinese men to finally bring back wives from China; and of course... the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I'm horrified somebody would descrate that statue - especially since it is a statue of a little girl. Sadako Sasaki, the girl who died of leukemia as a result of the atomic bombing, is in many ways symbolic of the who the worst victims of war often are: children. In a corrupt and Godless world, inevitably it is the innocent who suffer.
I suppose I'm also bothered by the relative lack of coverage about this whole issue. For those of you who want to help, I encourage you to spread the word. The World Peace Project for Children is trying to raise the $5000 it will cost to repair the statue.
Of course, here in Japan, people are very conscious of war and its effects. Modern, post-war Japan, can be said to almost be entirely shaped by its experiences in fighting and losing WWII. The fact that Japan is banned from an actual "military", that its (American influenced) Constitution is anti-war and denies Japan the right to collective self-defense (war), and the pervading attitudes of almost isolationistic, ultra-pacificism are very strong here.
Probably one of the most controversial issues of the year: the dispatch of the Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) to Iraq to perform humanitarian work such as rebuilding water and sewer systems, roads, etc. A special law was barely passed authorizing the deployment, and I'm holding my breath for the firestorm that will erupt if there are significant numbers of Japanese casualties in Iraq.
Even among my students, I find that there is a sharp divide of opinion about what to do, even when such a deployment is not unprecedented. Before, Japan has dispatched its SDF to do humanitarian work in SE Asian countries like Cambodia. Most of my students, to simply put it, are afraid of somebody dying... after all, Japan is the "safety country". Here in Japan, you're more likely to die from cancer or other diseases than from slugs in your chest.
Perhaps I'm a bit jaded when it comes to death. Or perhaps the necessity of people dying, in sacrifice for the greater good, is an ingrained concept in my mind.
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