This is the first day of the Peace March. The temperature is very cold coupled by strong and chilling winds.
From the Tokyo Olympic Memorial Dome, we took the train to Yumenoshima Park.
I still dont know what to expect so I was very surprised because there are a lot of groups and participants who will join this Tokyo leg and opening day of the Peace March. Bun-chan and Ai-chan came up with our banner for International Youth Relay. It can be placed in front or back.
We went to the Yumenoshima Park located in Yumenoshima Island which is translated as Dream Island. It is a former landfill so this area is made from Tokyo trash. It was in 1967 when they closed the landfill and converted it into a complex with a park, stadium and museum area. One of this is the Daigu Fukuryu Maru or the Lucky Dragon 5 Museum. This is a tuna fishing boat that sails thru the Pacific Ocean.
In 1954, the boat is on its way to japan from the area near Marshall Island, when the US made a nuclear test of the hydrogen bomb in the Bikini Atoll of Marshall Island. Apart from the atoll and the Marshallese people who were contaminated, those around the vicinity of the test (i.e. the Lucky Dragon 5 fishing boat) were also affected by the nuclear fallout. It is the debris and fine materials that disintegrated on impact, sent upwards by the enormous force of the blast and fell down like rain together with the radiation.
So they were able to go back to japan, but all of them have the radiation sickness together with the fish that they caught. This tragedy paved the way to the increase of the anti-nuclear movements in Japan. The museum houses the Lucky Dragon 5 boat itself, the history of the victims and the effects of the US nuclear bomb to the ocean especially the Pacific.
We gathered outside the museum for the opening of the Peace March. It was a very cold and windy morning. and we are all in our jackets and neck covers. The team from Japan Gensuikyo greeted us. There was Yasui-san, Akifumi-san, Satake-san and many more. We had a press conference where we talked with the journalists from Asahi Shimbun and Japan Press. Participants are being introduced and its a very overwhelming feeling to see a lot of Peace Marchers from Tokyo.
Many are from other prefectures because the opening is very important. This is the time they see each other again as these labor groups have members and officers from each prefectures. So many are familiar faces that I see during the previous World Conference.
I was shivering because of the cold wind and not because I’m nervous. As Kajihara-san is always there to help with the translation, I was able to make a short speech that morning, because my original message was quite long.
Okuma-san together with his group performed some dance using the Okinawa drums. He also made the program lively and our host of the show Bun-chan and one from Shinfujin. The Through Peace Marchers did their opening speech and also the young boy from Fukushima. I also saw Murata-san, a through peace marcher from last year. The director of the Lucky Fifth Dragon Museum also made his opening speech.
The end of the program signalled the start of the march. And off we go. We followed the lead vehicle which has speakers on top. There, Okuma-san speaks and leads the chants of the Peace march. We also sang along with the songs from the speakers.
Along the road a lot of people also gathered at the side of the streets to take photos and greet us. This is also a chance for me to march with different groups that is part of Gensuikyo, like Zenroren, Japan Metal Industries Union (JMIU), Shinfujin, Japanese Communist Party (JCP), Japan Confederation of A&H Bomb Sufferers Organization (Nihon Hidankyo), Kyuenkai, Japan Peace Committee, Coop, Nouminren, Japan lawyers, government employees, and many more.
And of course the hibakushas (victims of atomic bombing). They are now decreasing in numbers because of old age and some of them already died. So as much as they can walk even for a short distance they do so in order to inspire people to fight against nuclear weapons.
Our first stop was in Toyocho Park where we were had juice drinks and candies. Last April 30, we did a poster campaign in the stretch of this avenue. We went from store-to-store and gave them some leaflets about the peace march, and offered to place our postered in front of their store. As we passed along this time, we saw those people who we met 6 days ago.
Along the sidewalks, there were musicians playing the Peace March songs. One of them is Mr. Akira Matsudaira who plays the trumpet perfectly.
We passed thru the Big Tokyo JR station and the commercial area of Ginza where a lot of upscale shops are found. They said that this area has a majority of rich people as residents. Everything here is expensive. Especially the rent of condo style houses. So a lot of people who works here lives outside the business district. Some of them live outside Tokyo as it is very practical and they can save a lot. Besides there are a lot of trains in Japan that can move people in an efficient way and its always right on time.
I still can’t gauge my body if I’m doing the right stride and pace, because at the pace is changing at this initial stage especially when we cross the intersections. We have to speed up a bit so we won’t be blocking the roads. We also marched with many different groups so we sometimes walk fast to go to another group and march with them.
This is a very big crowd of marchers, like a thousand maybe who joined here in the opening march. Usually we occupy the left most lane of the road. The police are always coordinating and guiding us as we pass and cross the intersections. Great job!.
The marchers are encouraged to wave to everyone especially pedestrians on the sidewalks. We greet them with ‘heiwakoshin desu!’, ‘arigatou gosaimasu!’, konnichiwa!’
and also some shoutouts when the march speaker says something. We will answer either ‘iineee!‘ (an expression equivalent to ‘like’ in facebook), or ‘imadesyo!’ (a popular expression among young people that means ‘It’s now!’)
We were treated by Japan and Tokyo Gensuikyo to a Chinese restaurant, where we had our sugoi and oishi desu dinner!
So we finished the first day and I had a great time. My body is a aching a bit but after some stretching and a minute in bed, it all went away.
Looking forward for tomorrow!