Day 2, Japan Peace March 18,967 steps for Peace
After a good breakfast at Recent Hotel, I proceeded to the starting point of the day which is in front of Kitakyushu city hall. I gave my speech along with leaders of the Gensuikyo. A 69 year old man by the name of Mizoura Yoshinori, whom I met on Day 1, will walk all the way to Nagasaki with me. He said in his brief speech that he was in his mother’s womb when Nagasaki was bombed in 1945. As he was growing up, he had to take regular tests to ensure that there is no effect, whether from radiation or forms of trauma. We held the peace flag together along with a man from Osaka who is partially blind. He walks with the group every weekend when he is off from work. There were a couple of blind women who walked with us. It was very moving to say the least.
When we got to the Tobata-ku Government Office, we were greeted by a beautiful song on the loud speaker that was performed by peace advocates of Tobata. A lady wearing a shirt that says “GOODBYE NUKES!” Led the singing while she was accompanied by a man playing an accordion. The sound of the accordion was equally divine as the voice of the old lady. Later on, while walking, I looked back to see the same lady guiding one of the visually impared women in the march.
The group gathered signatures of support from people in one of the local malls. I joined a lady named Mrs. Fumiko Ikezono, a mother of 2. She spoke good English and she told me this is the first time she has done something that she thinks would merit giving back to society. She was not able to do this when she was younger. Now that her children are grown up and are professionals in Tokyo, she found the time to do so. She has travelled to Europe and the US and Singapore but she wishes to see the Philippines some day. In her small group, was a young man who has travelled to Baguio City before and was so happy about it.
We walked a few kilometers further until we reached what I think is edge of the city. I could see the urban sprawl getting to the foot of a mountain and as we ended the march for the day, the group director, Mr. Toru Arakawa brought me to my hotel, which was situated right below the Wakato big bridge. A suspension bridge that connects Wakamatsu and Tobata districts. Thus, the name Wakato.
We went to the meeting with the Women’s Organization where we were treated by snacks and a song that was performed by the members, including ate Liza Okahara, a 48 year old Filipina who settled here in Japan. She has been living here since 1994. She translatedfor me during the meeting. I shared my insights about peace while they gave their, in the context of the wars that they have waged and fought in the past. Also, they shared their fears about the present friction between Japan and neighboring countries and they are actively campaigning for peace.
While having dinner, we heard the loud bangs of the fire works at the bridge as the people celebrated the festival that was postponed because of the typhoon.
It was a fitting end to another fruitful march!
-AG Saño, 18 July 2015