This morning, we had our opening ceremonies near the Sagamihara Eki (station). We were actually on an outdoor 2nd floor connecting a mall entrance to a pedestrian sky bridge. (In Japan, the floor level resting on the ground is the 1st floor).
Kasakisan introduced me to Mikki san who will help me with the translations for the day. With us were several hibakushas from Kanagawa ken ( prefecture). There are around 320 hibakusha from Sagamihara. They also delivered their message of support as well as representatives from different groups. Fukushima san explained to me that Kanagawa prefecture used to be called Sagamihara in the same way that Tokyo used to be called Edo. As we passed by a an old neighbourhood with many Korean shops, he explained that the area used to have many Korean residents since many of them worked here many years ago.
We continued marching until we turned right to a boulevard. The shade trees on each side reminded me of the Acacia trees in the Philippines, only lower. At the end of that boulevard is the US Army’s General Depot in Sagamihara. This used to be the biggest base. Back in 1972, during the Vietnam war, this is the place where the tanks were stored before they were deployed.
We gathered on two sides of the boulevard before the train tracks on the edge of the entrance to the base. One leader delivered a speech of protest against the bases in Japan and we delivered the Ii ne and Imadesyo chants. I gave a translation of the Imadesyo chant two days ago. Now I also give the ‘Iine’ chant translation.
Iine! Call [Iine] means “good!” or “ I like it!” from Facebook “like” button.
「いいね！」コール （「いいね！」 のときに、facebookの親指を突き上げるポーズ）
Kakuheiki no nai sekai iine!
核兵器のない世界（いいね！） a Nuclear Weapon-free world
Genpatu no nai sekai iine!
原発のない世界（いいね！） a world without nuclear power plants
Gunzi-hi wa hisaichi ni mawasou iine!
軍事費は被災地にまわそう（いいね！） Military spending should be spent for afflicted areas
Kakuheiki-koku ni kakuheiki- haizetsu no yakusoku wo semarou iine!
核保有国に核兵器廃絶の約束せまろう（いいね！）Let’s put pressure on nuclear weapon states to promise nuclear abolition
Kodomo-tachi ni Aoi sora wo tewatasou iine!
子どもたちに青い空を手渡そう（いいね！） Blue sky for children
Kodomo-tachi ni Akarui mirai wo iine!
子どもたちに明るい未来を（いいね！） bright future for children
Hibakusha no kokoro wo uketsugou iine!
ヒバクシャの心を受け継ごう（いいね！） let’s pass on Hibakusha’s hearts
Kenpou kyu-zyou mamorou iine!
憲法９条守ろう（いいね！） Let’s protect Article 9 of the Constitution
One might ask, ‘What has military bases got to do with the issue of peace?’
From what I saw today, the answer would be: Foreign military bases are part of another country’s comprehensive machinery / system for war be it in defense mode or attack mode. The definition of a real lasting peace includes the obvious abolition of weapons of mass destruction (i.e. nuclear weapons) and also the removal of the entire system that supports war.
We then headed to the Sagamihara City Hall where we were received by the representatives of the City Hall. They also gave their message of support to the Peace March. I was lucky they asked their translator, Ms. Sandra Watanabe, to translate for me briefly. The message was a strong and encouraging one. As we started walking again, I received a book from a fellow Peace Marcher that day. It was a daily diary of a Peace Marcher in 2001 written in Nihongo. Wow! I am having a strong desire to learn reading and writing in Nihongo too. The person who gave it to me also has a photo in the book!
After this, we marched to Fuchinome Eki (station). The march stopped from here and will continue at the Zama Eki after lunch. This time, we rode the Peace March van to arrive at the Zama Eki early. For lunch, we went to a quite popular local restaurant near Zama Eki. It serves western style and japanese style lunches. I learned from my colleagues that the western style meals are usually cheaper in restaurants.
A very sweet Hibakusha I met at the Fuchinome station. I believe she is 83. So far, the hibakushas I meet during the Peace March are usually energetic. 🙂 Perhaps more people my age should meet more hibakushas so they increase their imagined life expectancy from 60 to 85 or even higher. 🙂
For the afternoon march, we started from Zama Eki and walked our way to a tunnel passing through Camp Zama by the U.S. Army. It feels weird reading signs saying Warning Restricted Area Keep Out as you walk along the high fences. I wonder how weirder it is for my Japanese colleagues. We stopped opposite the Gate of the camp and delivered our chants again. We saw school buses and some cars going in and out of the camp. They were waving and smiling at us and we smile back. I am not sure though if they understand the kind of peace the Peace Marchers are asking for. I hope they do too. 🙂
Afetr this, we marched to the Zama City Hall where we were also welcomed warmly by representatives of the public office. They gave their message of support and penants as well. A representative of the hibakushas also delivered a message. He is a young hibakusha at 68 years old and is the chairperson of Zama City organization of hibakushas. Lastly, Kasakisan delivered a message as representative of Kanagawa Gensuikyo He noted that some kids he had a conversation with on our way to the City Hall also expressed their desire for a nuke free world. I also delivered a very short message of around 5 sentences in Nihongo. First time! It was a great day and we finished before 4 pm.
Matta ashita ne. Issho ni Arukimashou! Heiwa koshin desu!
(See you tomorrow. Let us walk together! This is the Peace March!)