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Book of Ryoichi Hashimoto's writings

August 15, 2012


Professor composes book of writings by late anti-nuke activist father



Professor emeritus Tetsuya Hashimoto, 71, wants his father to be understood.

His dad Ryoichi passed away at age 80 in the winter of 1982, but not long before that Ryoichi handed his son some 900 pages of writings.

"What did he want me to do with this?" says Hashimoto of the writings, which have a cover reading "Notes of the anti A- and H-bomb movement centered in Suginami Ward (Tokyo)." After a March 1954 hydrogen bomb test at the Bikini Atoll where the crew on a Japanese fishing boat was exposed to radiation, housewives in Suginami Ward started a signature-collecting drive. Ryoichi, formerly a newspaper reporter, was one of the founders.

The anti-nuclear movement grew, and on Aug. 6, 1955, a large anti-nuclear meeting was held in Hiroshima. However, amidst the ideological battles of the Cold War, anti-nuclear activists who had helped support each other began competing for political power, and in a mere 10 years the society formed by the anti-nuclear activists separated. Ryoichi's notes end dated Feb. 17, 1965, with the passage, "I rest my pen hoping for a correct restart to the peace movement."

Ryoichi turned his back to the movement, and visits from group affiliates suddenly stopped. Ryoichi spent the latter part of his life traveling with his wife.

In 1971, having gone to Kanazawa University for work, Hashimoto met Hiroshima-born Mikiso Iwasa, who took a liking to him. Iwasa, while working on research in political philosophy, also worked for the support of atomic bomb victims like himself. Iwasa had been exposed to the bomb at age 16. He couldn't save from the flames his mother, who was trapped under debris of their collapsed house, or find the body of his younger sister. When he'd drunk alcohol, he would talk about the experiences, and those stories remain firmly planted in Hashimoto's memory. He supported Iwasa by collecting money on campus for his anti-nuclear campaigning overseas.

Hashimoto also heard that Iwasa had made the trip to Hiroshima for the first international anti A- and H-bomb convention in 1955. The following year, following a second such convention, the Japan Confederation of A- and H- Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) was founded. Like the society Hashimoto's father had been involved with, Iwasa's group faced a split, but they overcame the situation by holding to the principle that they were working for the sake of the atomic bomb sufferers. Hashimoto couldn't bring himself to mention to Iwasa that his father had quit the movement.

In July this year, Hashimoto finished putting together a book of his father's writings. Since retiring in 2008 he had been working on the book, and in the middle of his work the Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred. The cross-party anti-nuclear movement since then shows similarity to the movement his father was involved with.

The signature-collecting movement held almost 60 years ago gathered 300,000 names in a month. When the activists felt like giving up, Ryoichi wrote that they brought their anger "from the streets back to their homes, but it continued to burn." He believed in the power of the grassroots movement, and Hashimoto, wanting Iwasa to see that, has sent him one of only seven copies of the book he made.

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