Peaceful Tomorrows and The Peace Abbey will cooperate in another Stonewalk this summer, this time in Japan and along with the Japanese people to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Atomic and Hydrogen bombings Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We will pull the Stone 340 miles from Nagasaki to Hiroshima along a route which has been mapped out for us by Shindou-san, a Japanese man who has walked the route for many years.
Dot Walsh of the Peace Abbey and Andrea LeBlanc of Peaceful Tomorrows were fortunate to meet with numerous Hibakusha groups (Atomic Bomb survivors), the Mayor of Hiroshima, anti-nuclear groups, interpreters for peace, teachers for peace, Peace Boat people, Buddhist monks and nuns, and various other peace activists last January in Japan. Jun-san, of the Grafton Peace Pagoda, arranged all the meetings for us. Because of her efforts, many doors were opened to us and many people listened with rapt attention as we explained our plans. Both the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have written letters of support for Stonewalk.
The Hibakusha were among the first people after 9-11 to extend their compassion and support to Peaceful Tomorrows members and have maintained a close and special bond with us ever since. This is an enormously important year for the Japanese. The youngest of the Hibakusha are 60 years old now. Many have dedicated their lives to the abolishment of nuclear weapons, because they know too well the devastation they bring. They are determined to not let the world forget the horrors of the past. We cannot afford to forget .
The Stone will be carved in Japanese as well as English and will be shipped to Nagasaki on its specially made caisson. There will be an opening ceremony on July 2 in Nagasaki and a closing ceremony in Hiroshima on August 4. The Stone will be placed permanently in Hiroshima as a memorial to all the civilians killed in war and especially the victims of the atomic bombs. On the Stone will be a book containing the handwritten names, copied out by students, of some of the thousands of those killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the atomic bombs.
The Stone will also bear a statement of atonement from some American citizens and veterans for having dropped the bombs on the two cities, killing predominantly women, children, and the elderly. We are hopeful that there will also be a similar statement by Japanese people atoning for Japan’s harmful actions against the Koreans and Chinese. Mr. Koizumi, The Prime Minister of Japan made a speech April 22 at the Asian-African Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, apologizing for Japanese war crimes. He said, “Japan,through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.”
We are asking for the support of Peaceful Tomorrows members to come to Japan for all or part of the walk to help pull the Stone and for assistance in getting financial support for the project. We would be most grateful for members and friends who have a particular interest in Japan, anti-nuclear issues, ending war, and promoting peace (which pretty much includes all of us) to seek funding from individuals and hold fundraisers.
Individuals who want to join us in Japan will be responsible for their own airfares, but will be housed along the Stonewalk route in Japanese homes, temples, and churches. People have offered to help feed us as well. We will pull the Stone an average of 10 – 13 miles a day. The temperatures in Japan in July will be 85 – 95 degrees and humid. We will be allowed to bring MINIMAL luggage as we will not be able to transport more.
The Japanese we met are extremely interested in Stonewalk, encouraging and unbelievably helpful. Besides planning the route, permission from the five prefectures we will travel through has been obtained. People are willing to do publicity and create a website in Japanese for us. We are asking for volunteer interpreters to accompany us along the way. If any of you speak Japanese, we need YOU as well! The Japanese media has already begun its coverage of Stonewalk. If you have ideas or contacts for media coverage in the US, please, let us know. The Stone is being engraved. A monk is making a banner for us. Two people have volunteered to drive support vehicles the entire way. The brochures are on their way to the printer and t-shirts are designed. Derrill Bodley is organizing music for the walk and for the ceremonies. David Potorti is looking into getting insurance for the project.
I would welcome any “testimony” from Stonewalkers from previous years. Participation is an amazing experience and this Stonewalk will undoubtedly be inspiring and rewarding as well.
Email me your interest, questions and comments, Andrea LeBlanc or call me at 603-868-5200.
View the brochure for Japan Stonewalk here.
View the statement of apology to the Hibakusha from Peaceful Tomorrows