We had a rainy start today. We were all donned with raincoats while having the opening ceremonies at Izu area. I told them rain is considered a blessing in the Philippines so we must have been very blessed this morning.
Perhaps it was so because this time, we were received inside the Mishima City Hall by the Vice Mayor and the City Assembly members. I learned from the meeting that Mishima City actively promotes events for peace especially during August. They send many of their high school students to the anniversary activities in Hiroshima every August 6. Mishima City made its Peace Declaration as early as 1959. They are the second city to do so all over Japan.
I think this is our first time to be received inside a government building. Very timely for the rainy day. The city officers gave the mayor’s message, penants and kampas. They also gave us refreshments and cute packs of wipes bearing the city’s peace declaration. Mr. Kyuji san, President of Mishima Gensuikyo, was also there. He said that Peace Marchers are always allowed in this room at the city office. This is very kind of them indeed.
We had our lunch in a room designated for labor unions inside the City Office. I’m surprised that the city office gives ample space for the unions. I am not sure if we have the same in the Philippines.
Takako san introduced me to Ishi Masahiro. Masahiro san will be my translator for this afternoon and tomorrow as Takako san needs to attend to her teaching job. We also met an old man in his 80’s. He was highly regarded by many people in the room because he worked hard during his younger days for the realization of Mishima City’s Peace Declaration. Wow! We had a fan pic with him. 🙂 Refer to bottom photo above.
Like yesterday, we walked along some shutter streets. Perhaps the balancing elements against the gloominess of shutter streets were the small parks we pass by and the smiles and waves from old people. Today was also the first time for me to really witness how a supporter gave her kampa as we passed by. She opened her door as we were approaching her part of the street. She came out just in time and handed a small envelope to the a peace marcher with the kampa bag. And the peace marchers greeted her arigatou gozaimasu. Sweet!
We had an afternoon break at a Coop branch. One guy showed me two of his magic tricks. One was with a pair of rubber bands, while the other one involved a little toy robot that pops in and out of his index finger. Haha!
We finished at a beautiful park near the Susonoh City Hall. We met more hibakusha and some people handed us photos of the Fuji san. We were also introduced to Masahiro san’s professor. He brought us to a tour of the military camps at the foot of Fuji san after the closing ceremonies.
For the tour, we first stopped by a Japanese self defense force camp near Komakado area where there was a driving school nearby and a special road leading to the military training grounds further into the foot of Fuji san. They told me that the school also offers lessons for driving military tanks.
Next, we drove further into the foot of Mt. Fuji. The professor led us to a large open field with varying terrain. He explained that this is where the joint military exercises between the Japanese and US armies are held. We then drove to the Mt. Fuji Visitor Centre Juku Forest Park. It was closed at that time though. The facilities look quite new in contrast to the older facades we passed by this morning. The forest park includes a spa, a mini golf course, activity centers and a helicopter field.
On our way out, we passed by the edges of Camp Fuji. We will march along this camp the next morning. The professor’s car and the Peace March van stopped for a while. I was able to take a snap shot of the large signages along the fence. It was only when I saw the photo preview that I read fully what the signage said. Ooops. 🙂 See photo below.
Lastly, we passed by a neighbourhood of big houses and wide gardens. I was appreciating the view when our professor explained that those are the residences of the landowners of the military training grounds we visited. The Japanese and US military are actually renting those grounds at the foot of Mt. Fuji from private land owners as their joint training grounds. This is quite an interesting setup. A very interesting one… The professor explained that this setup is even harder to campaign against because of the involvement of private entities who also make profit out of the setup.
After the tour, the peace marchers checked in a business hotel in Gotenba City in preparation for the march the next day. We had yummy sushi for dinner. I think there was more than a dozen pieces per serving. I was very hungry I forgot to take a photo of the plate of sushi. Even though Fuji san was hiding behind the clouds today, atleast we had fantastic sushi. Subarashi! (excellent) 🙂
Our professor gave a follow up presentation of the things we saw earlier in the tour to Mt. Fuji. He gave us pamphlets but it was in Nihongo. Here are some notes I was able to take from what Masahiro san conveyed to me:
1. Camp Fuji is the third US military base in Japan covering 8,915 hectares.
2. It is shared by the Japanese self defense force and the US marine for their joint military exercises. They operate under a contract called Status of Forces Agreement (SoFA). A similar contract is also used in the Philippines.
3. He also showed us photos of white phosphorus and bomb explosions during training.
4. He also noted that Mt. Fuji makes fresh water from its ice caps. It’s like the Japanese version of Evian. 🙂
5. He also briefed us about Ospreys. These military air craft also flies over the area.
To cap the night, I wrote a blog post for a previous day while waiting for coin laundry to finish. Takuya kun was also there doing his laundry. These days, coin laundries are valuable. 🙂