Today was the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, a devastating event that led to the end of the War in the Pacific in 1945. Though many historians have argued that the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki prevented the deaths of many more people should the war have continued, I have always found it hard to agree that any nation, even during wartime, deserved to experienced the unimaginable horrors caused by a nuclear bomb. I have visited Hiroshima twice and have been very impressed and moved by the efforts the city and its people have made to promote peace worldwide to ensure no other people experience what its people did. Its Peace Park, with its haunting “Genbaku Dome” at Ground Zero, its memorial statues to various heroic individuals, including Sadako Sasaki, the little local girl who folded 1,000 origami cranes in the hope of being cured from her leukemia caused by the bomb. Because of Hiroshima and Sadako, origami cranes have become a worldwide symbol of peace and hope.
In honor of the anniversary of the attack on Hiroshima, I sent a little gift to a good friend and colleague here in Los Angeles who has a tremendous amount here in Southern California to promote Japanese culture and to help bring the two worlds closer together. Since 1998, the year I landed here, Higashi-san has been publishing a newspaper called Cultural News (www.culturalnews.com) publicizing events relating to Japanese culture in this area. I met him shortly after I began working at Pacific Asia Museum and immediately we became colleagues. He helped promote exhibitions I was working on, and I occasionally wrote articles for his paper. This relationship has continued over the years, but it has grown into a friendship, as I watch with admiration all he has done as a Japanese national to promote his culture here. Even when money was running out to fund his newspaper, he persevered with great gam an (the Japanese word for determination) to keep the paper going, and helped as many people as he could in the process. When Japan suffered another nuclear disaster in 2011, he traveled to the Tohoku area to see the damage and helped raise awareness and assistance here in the Los Angeles area. Higashi-san is from Hiroshima. The gift I sent him today was a small acrylic card holder that I bought in Hiroshima, embossed with the words “Peace Declaration Hiroshima.” If there were more people like Higashi-san in the world, I think we would have a better chance of avoiding another Hiroshima.