Saturday, August 07, 2010

Hiroshima 65 Years After. A Memory Ripped Off.

How to embrace the lessons of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and oppose nuclear proliferation without lethal hypocrisy?

The mournful toll of a temple bell marked the start of a one-minute silence at 8:15 am, when the US B-29 bomber Enola Gay had dropped a device that instantly killed tens of thousands in Hiroshima. "The human race must not repeat the horror and misery caused by atomic bombs," Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a speech after 1,000 white doves were released in a symbolic gesture for peace. "Japan, as the only nation to have been attacked by the war-time atomic bombs, has a moral responsibility to lead the efforts toward realization of a world without nuclear weapons."

Japan's opinion has centered almost exclusively on the atomic blasts and its role as a victim with short sincere apologies given to the Japanese invasions of East Asia, with their soldiers who acted and behaved as brutal and murderous conquerers. Even after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese war cabinet refused to surrender. After Nagasaki, the War cabinet still refused to surrender until, in an unprecedented move, the Emperor Hiro-Hito intervened and essentially ordered them to do so as based on archives following the Yalta agreements and Postdam Conference. Japan was given an ultimatum to surrender in the name of United States, Great Britain, China, France and the USSR or meet "prompt and utter destruction", which did not mention the atomic bomb.

It came August 6th at 08:15 AM. 1945 War time VDO archives of Hiroshima atomic bombing

Click the arrow to watch the war archives

My questions I asked always to all: Was the Hiroshima bombing, along with the one August 9 on Nagasaki, really necessary? Are young Japanese today taught enough in school about the war’s history to put this event in the context of Japan’s aggression in Asia and its attack on Pearl Harbor? Are American kids told about the colonization of Asia by Asian and Western nations, and their government's fear to see an Asian rival able to reach the military level of western powers? Is warfare on civilians, especially with atomic weapons, ever justified? What about the bombings of the Allies on Europe and Asia since the end of WWII breaking international conventions? One being broken today is the NPT.

Apologies, justified or not?

Apologies of Japan to the western nations brutalized by Japanese occupation of Asia? Apologies of Japan to Asian nations victims of the bloody conquest and rule of Asia by the Imperial military and civilian commands? Apologies of the USA to the Hibakusha, the blast exposed civilians and victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the A and H bombing ? Mutual apologies could be the beginning of a trust building, a sincere reconciliation while the world has to face a lethal threat with nuclear arsenals. But let's be no naive, the day when a powerful nation asks the others to get rid of their nuclear arsenal... who and what proves in international politics and lessons of history that the unarmed party won't become the victim of a malicious diplomacy, built with contempt, ambition, racism?

Nihon Hidankyo, the Japan Confederation of A-and H Bomb Sufferers Organization "demands to the government of the United States to present a formal apology to the Hibakusha, by acknowledging the fact that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was against all humanity and a violation of international law; this would be an acknowledgment of the need to abolish all nuclear weapons now possessed by the US, and the need to take the initiative in the campaign for elimination of all nuclear arms."

Adding to this request that would be a symbol of admittance the nuclear bomb is the wrong tool to resolve and dissuade of wars, the Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms issued a document in January 2008 when their delegation took part in the international conference in Costa Rica for the abolition of nuclear weapons

In the end, The Literature Nobel Price OE Kenzaburo wrote "Hiroshima and the Art of Outrage" and that Japan must avoid the "Nuclear Umbrella" in an editorial for the New York Times August 5th 2010. OE points out the tension between Japan's "moral responsibility" as the "only victim of nuclear bombings" and the willingness of some Japanese to allow nuclear weapons to be transported through Japan "in exchange for American protection." "What about the bombing victims who will fill the [Hiroshima] venue? Wouldn’t they feel a sense of outrage if they were told that it’s their moral responsibility, as citizens of the only atom-bombed country, to choose to live under the protection of a nuclear umbrella, and that wanting to discard that umbrella in favor of freedom is, conversely, an abdication of responsibility?"

OE Kenzaburo quoted in New York Times

Today, it is my opinion, as a Japan watcher of this society for decades, that a majority of Japanese are joining the society's movement to prevent the adverse revision of the current Japanese Constitution that forbids the country to have any war potential, in support of the position of the A-Bomb survivors, the Hibakusha. They are only 227,565 of them in Japan today. To whom should be added the Koreans, the Chinese, other Asian nationals and war prisoners who all bear the scars of horror and ignominy of the nuclear bombs' arsenal war.

Documents - Press comments

Testimonies of 22 victims and survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki), the "Hibakusha" (literally "people exposed to the blast"). "What the Hibakusha want is not nuclear disarmament. What we want is absolute denial and abolition of nuclear weapons"

Hiroshima marked the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing on the city during World War II in an annual ceremony on Aug. 6 that was attended for the first time, the Mainichi Shimbun reports, by the U.N. secretary-general and officials from the United States and other nuclear powers. Speaking at the ceremony, Ban Ki-moon, the first U.N. chief to attend, called for efforts to realize a world without nuclear weapons. Some 55,000 people attended the ceremony. "At the event Akiba and two representatives of the bereaved families of atomic-bomb victims enshrined two books containing the names of 5,501 people newly confirmed to have died after being exposed to radiation from the bombing underneath a cenotaph for victims. The total number of recorded deaths in 97 enshrined books now stands at 269,446. (Mainichi)

"This year's ceremony took place three months after the Nuclear Nonproliferation Review Conference in New York writes Kyodo News, which followed an April meeting hosted by the U.S. on nuclear disarmament. Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said in his message to the ceremony that Japan needs to do more to assure the world it is serious about remaining a non-nuclear state. "The time is ripe for the Japanese government to take decisive action. It should begin to take the lead in the pursuit of the elimination of nuclear weapons by legislating the three non-nuclear principles, abandoning the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and implementing passionate, caring assistance measures for all of the aging hibakusha anywhere in the world," Akiba said. Earlier this week, Akiba said it is ridiculous for Japan to think about national security policies while still being dependent on America's nuclear umbrella." (Kyodo news)

But as the Japan Times writes "amid the warnings of the dangers of the weapons and calls to prevent further nuclear proliferation internationally, little was heard about proliferation risks associated with Japan's support for exporting its nuclear power technology to nations that have not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or its pursuit of a plutonium program at the Monju fast-breeder, and construction of the Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant."

"The hibakusha, 227.565 as of 31 March 2010, and antinuclear activists have long charged that "these nuclear power policies contradict the official rhetoric that Japan is making every effort to support nuclear nonproliferation, and, in fact, increase the likelihood sensitive technology or atomic fuel will fall into the hands of rogue states or terrorists."

"Hiroshima Mayor Akiba call to turn Japan's long-standing three non-nuclear principles into law is something antinuclear groups have long desired. The three non-nuclear principles of not possessing, manufacturing or introducing nuclear weapons were introduced as a Diet resolution in the late 1960s and adopted in 1971, but have yet to be codified into law. The mayor also urged Kan to speak to nuclear weapons states directly and push them to disarm completely by 2020 [...] At Friday's ceremony in Hiroshima, though, some said that regardless of official assurances and international monitoring, there was a contradiction between the government vow to play lead in nonproliferation efforts and plan to export nuclear power technologies and pursue domestic nuclear power policies that create more plutonium. "The Kan government needs to rethink international deals to export nuclear technology, especially to nations like India. Japan can show true leadership in nonproliferation not just with its three non-nuclear principles [...] but by banning nuclear technology exports and ending the Monju and Rokkasho programs," said Masako Koyanagi, 54, a Hiroshima resident." (Japan Times)

I reported on the 65th Ceremony of the bombing of Hiroshima. Here is my August 6th 2010 RTL's report on the Hibakusha

Two decades after the Cold War ended, the United States and Russia still have more than 23.000 nuclear warheads between them. France, Britain, China, India, Pakistan and Israel have a combined total of about 1.000, according to the International Commission on Nuclear Non Proliferation and Disarmament. The global nuclear stockpile is equivalent to about 150.000 Hiroshima bombs.

Hiroshima, 1945 after the A Bomb

Sources: Mainichi shimbun, Kyodo News, Japan Times, Globe and Mail, Hiroshima Peace Media Center, Agencies, Sunao Tsuboi-San "Hibakusha", RTL, agencies.


✍✍✍ Very interesting and very true. Personally I think that Japanese young people involved in pacifism due to the terror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be much more credible if their State as well as people would recognize the fact that they have conducted a war completely out of the International Rules set up by the Geneva Conventions. We would be more enthusiastic to support and consider that what was done to Japan if the actual generation running Japan has shown signs of shame about what they have done to Korean, Chinese, ..., and POW.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Habu Yoshiharu, Great Master of Japanese Chess, the "Shogi"

"He entered the realm of ideology and philosophy", admirers say.

In 2010, Habu Yoshiharu has won the Meijin title seven times and currently holds the Oza and Kisei shogi titles. Habu is a FIDE Master in international chess, with a rating of approximately 2400.

For Habu "Everything is governed by the law of cause and effect."

People like to discover the secret ways Asian societies pursue their existence. The information revolution and globalization changed our society into a more complex world, a revolution of how we work and live. To be successful as a professional you have to spend more time enhancing your professional skills and strategies than you used to do 1 or 2 decades ago. For the westerners curious about Asia, it is custom to often talk about Asia as a rival, as a master of strategy be in China, Japan, India, and often quoted is "The Art of War" attributed to a Chinese strategist Sun Tzu. But when carrying on with discussion on tactics and strategies, there are other intellectual games coming to mind such as "Go" or especially "Shogi."

In Japan, Shogi is a culture, deeply rooted in Japanese society. It has fascinated and excited many people. The game has been relatively slow to spread to countries where Chinese characters are not in common use.

Yoshiharu Habu won the 68th seventh game this year for the 7th time. He is the greatest visionary in the Japanese chess world. His passion's name: Shogi, in Japanese " 将棋 "

It is a two-player board game in the same family as Western chess. It is the most popular of a family of chess variants native to Japan. Shogi means general's [shō 将] boardgame [gi 棋]. It is the same [shō 将] used in "Shōgun".

I met Habu Yoshiharu in town recently, and not only he is a fascinating and kind character, he also is a major strategist, and as usual in these VIP circles, he is modest and genuine.

VDO of the 68th Meijin Title Match, Game Four (Habu vs Miura)

Learning about Shogi

1) On Japanese Shogi's strategy, an interesting interview, an English-translated version of "Yoshiharu Habu and Modern Shogi," written by Michio Umeda. Quotes:

"When one asks Habu about the essence of modern shogi, he always says that there has been "no freedom on the board." When I first heard this from him, I did not grasp what he meant. For as long as we play within the rules, we are allowed to play any moves on the board. "Freedom on the chess board" should naturally be the premise of shogi. However, what Habu was considering as problematic was that "Freedom on the chess board" had been prevented by traditions to respect the seniority system and tacit agreements, which were not only prevalent in the Shogi (Japanese chess) world but also common in the Japanese village society. "As a promising Shogi player, you need to be an orthodox Ibisha (Static Rook) player at least at a younger age. Every successive Meijin was so. On a special stage like the Meijin title match, you need to play the Yagura Opening, which is the pure literature of shogi. And, "How dare you choose Furibisha (Ranging Rook) against a great senior." are some examples of things about seniority system. For Habu this is one of the reasons why "the number of strategies are limited throughout the Shogi world."

2) Interview of Habu Yoshiharu (quotes of Japan Times, 2007)

Q: What do you think about chess, backgammon and go?

A: I have played all three. Due to the use of dice, backgammon is a very emotional game, while go is all about occupying as much space as possible and so it is more visually related. Chess is an aggressive game that has no excess to it.

Q: Do you think Japanese culture has anything to offer the world in the 21st century?

A: Yes, it has a different way of looking at things, which I think is appealing to other countries. However, Japanese people are not very good at marketing their culture.

Q: Individualism is rising in Japan, but many people still can't make decisions or take responsibility. What do you think?

A: I think the only way for individualism to work in a healthy way is for decisions and responsibility to be a part of a unified system.

Q: What are your goals in life?

A: To keep making new discoveries. I get the feeling there is no end to this process.

3) Shogi chess game: How to play? Lesson 1 what to do and not to do

-Japan Times
-Reporter's notes