Following the memorial event in Hiroshima on the 6th (links in this post), the mayor of Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue, has also called for the abolition of nuclear weapons. His speech was delivered in the city’s Peace Park surrounded by hundreds of origami cranes, which I’m guessing are connected to the incredibly sad story of Sadako Sasaki. It’s been 64 years since Nagasaki was the victim of the second atomic bomb on the 9th August 1945.
I guess what struck me when looking at the background of this was the way in which a single event can overshadow everything surrounding it. Nagasaki is probably best known today for being bombed, but the city (and its surrounding prefecture) has a significant history – it was a centre for Japanese Catholicism in the 16th and 17th centuries, and was the site of the crucifixions of the Twenty-Six Martyrs of Japan, and was one of the few places to remain open to outsiders when Japan pursued a policy of isolationism during the Edo Period. It’s the setting of Madam Butterfly, and was a centre for the Kakure Kirishtan branch of Christianity.
The shadow of the atomic bombings cast a long shadow, of course they do. But I think it’s worth looking beyond them, to the history that pre-dates them and, I guess for the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the future that will outlive them.
Let’s hope and pray that will be the case.