Ebina to Yokohama.
Today is very sunny. It’s only 8:30 am when we went out but we can already feel the heat. We gathered outside the Ebina City Hall and did our opening program. We were greeted by city officials. We listened to their welcome and send off messages to us.
Today is Sunday so I think they went their way to the city office to meet us. They are very proud to show us one of the memorial that they built for the victims of the nuclear bomb. And also the young tree that they placed in front of their office. It is like an offspring of a tree from Hiroshima. It’s like a second generation hibakusha. Isagaya-san from here in Kanagawa and other Peace Marchers.
We passed by some tunnels where it provides some quick comfort to us as its air inside is very cool. We passed by a group of 3 children and one of them is a Middle Eastern kid, and he courageously asked us if this is a rebellion that we are doing. I just said. ‘No, this is the peace march.’
It’s understandable for a young boy like him to ask that type of question because maybe he doesn’t really know the word rebellion. Or he watches a lot of television that things like this looks like a rebellion.
Today is a Sunday so we expect a lot of families together and kids playing outside. We also noticed a lot of pocket farms. These are small farms and their vegetables are very nice to look at. No smell of any chemicals, so I assume that these plants are naturally grown. I also saw the make shift store where they sell their produce. It’s a bit shabby but still has some customers.
I didn’t get the chance to look at their price. I hope their price is less because transportation, packaging, quality control plus labeling cost should not be included in their pricing.
We proceeded to Ayase where we are welcomed by member of the Coop who provided us with some tea and sports drink. We also had the priviledge to meet the city mayor. She gave her speech and provided me with an English translation of her speech. We really appreciate her presence because it is a Sunday so I think she needs to get back to her family now.
I’m very surprised that Chika-san came. Chika Selden studied in New Zealand and she met my sister, Malaya, last year. She is very helpful in providing some translations for me and my speech. She brought along her son and daughter. And at the continuation of the march I lent them my clapper and tambourine so they can have something to do while walking.
The 2 kids provided a different kind of enjoyment to us while walking. A lot of peace marchers are in their middle age. So the kids somehow remind them of their grandchildren. And their energy is so contagious. They can make your muscle aches go away. I hope it’s always Sunday so there are a lot of kids.
Before lunch we reached the Atsugi base. It is largest United States Navy air base in the Pacific Ocean. It is located in Ayase and Yamato Cities and not exactly in Atsugi. The base is approximately 1200 hectares in land area and it is shared by US and Japanese self defense force. The base was a Japanese naval airbase before the World War 2. It was also used during the Korean and Vietnam wars. As usual it has a beware sign on its fence. You can also notice their communication tower facilities and the radar tower.
After lunch at the Coop store, we completed our Atsugi base experience where we passed by the Yamato side of the base where you can see the airport. Then we proceeded to a park near the Yamato Station. There were shopping malls and restaurants. With Sunday being also a family day, we greeted a lot of pedestrians.
At the park we had a little program where some Hibakushas gave their messages to the Peace March. We also received our second bunch of paper cranes. These paper cranes will be carried by our Through Peace Marcher all the way to Hiroshima where it will be offered to Sadako’s monument in the Peace Park.
By this time, it’s also time for Chika-san and her kids to go home since there is a train station nearby and the distance that her kids walked through and the heat we had to take was somehow challenging for them. I hope they have a very goodnight sleep.
During our walk, Takaji-san provided us with his tambourine playing. We usually played along with the peace march music and we always hear him sing along also. He sometimes plays with the lyrics. I don’t know what he is saying because it’s in Nihongo but everyone in front is laughing when he does that. He also changed some of the shout outs like ‘oye!’ instead of ‘iine!’, and ‘imahero’ instead of ‘imadesyo!’.
As we were on our way to Seya park we were joined by 2 lovely kids. They are identical so I assume they are twins. Their mother is a member of the Coop. Just like Chika-san’s kids they uplift our mood and spiritvas we move along with the Peace March.
Then we ended our march for the day in Seya Park.
I call this the ‘kid’s day’ because they are the next generation of Japanese who will inherit the things that we fight for. And I know they will grow up like us who believe in the values of the peace campaign like the peace march.
Before the day ended, I was invited by the Peace Committee in a roundtable discussion with the students and youth led by Isagaya-san, who is also one of the Kanagawa Peace Marchers. Along with Mr. Leland Buckley, an American who migrated here in Japan so many many years ago, he is a doing movie about the US bases here in japan. I think it’s about the sympathy budget or the American perspective in Japanese society. He wants to make it more interesting so he adds some humor in his film.
Along with his friend Takao Yabe-san they provide the interpretation during our meeting. Yabe-san is very fluent and very well aware of what is happening in japan.
During our meeting we asked some students how they see the US bases. One of them said that majority of young people don’t even care about the presence of US bases. And one of them said that he doesn’t see any progress to people living around the bases. One participant who is, I think, working made a remark about tax money being paid to support US bases. As he is also paying his tax, he does not want it to go to maintenance of the US facilities.
There are lots of issues that Yabe-san and I discussed. And man, Japan has a lot of problems right now aside from the bases, there is the lack of employment opportunities for young people, long work hours, less tax collected by the government because a lot of Japanese are in their 50s or 60s, or retired. So there is IOU where the government borrowed money from your savings, opening Japan for tourists and foreign workers and Abe’s pushing for weapons trading capability of Japan.
There is not much foreign workers from Japan, so remittance getting in is a bit low, still the problem is the lack of young people.
Abe is also pushing for a healthcare law similar to the US.
And one that bothers me a lot is how the Japanese government pays for the maintenance of the US bases (sympathy budget). Even the relocation to Guam is at Japanese taxpayers’ expense. The houses inside the bases are 3x larger than the normal citizen’s. And during summer they have their air conditioning units in full operation. There is also the story of US bases guaranteed of uninterrupted power. So in case there is electrical power problem, people outside the base may get brownout, but the those inside the bases won’t.
There are Japanese people who are openly against the sympathy budget, because people from Fukushima and other places devastated by tsunami still lives on temporary shelters. This budget should go there instead.
In the Philippines, I hope the Philippine Senate will question the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US, because Filipino taxpayers money might eventually be used for the foreign military presence in our country.