When the mid-August comes,
Lingering summer’s heat is felt mixed with a hint of autumn cool
Reminding me of the time when the Pacific war came to an end.
The war had devastated our country with millions of people killed.
But the Pacific war was not the only war.
Many other wars continued to go on today over the world.
It was three scores and eleven years ago
That a government of the people, by the people, for the people
Came to take over the military government of our war-torn country.
It was three months after I had begun schooling at seven.
At school, I had begun to be taught to stand in attention
Wherever I heard the word “Emperor”.
“What would you like to be when you grow up?” an adult might ask me.
“A soldier, sir.”
“Ah, good boy. And what are you going to do as a soldier?”
“Fight for my country, sir. Serve His Majesty the Emperor, sir. With all my body and life, sir.”
How could I know what I was saying meant then.
As far as that goes, did the questioner know what he was asking me either.
I was then separated far from my family.
All elementary school children were then forced to evacuate from their home towns
To remote rural areas so that we kids would survive in case their home towns turn to battle fields.
Even if the people were all killed, we kids would remain alive
To prevent the “Divine Yamato (Japanese) People” from being exterminated.
But we were more or less left forgotten in remote areas even without sufficient food.
My daily life then was made up of hunting for anything edible –
Soft weeds, hornet’s nest to pull out the grubs, frogs, mulberry, silkworm pupas, locusts, etc.
It was by my instinct to find anything edible to live in those days.
One day, there was a sudden announcement that the Emperor would speak on the radio.
It was impossible to imagine His Majesty the Emperor would talk directly to the people.
But we knew the announcement was true when we were told to come around the radio set.
There was only one radio set at the inn where we were staying.
We kids were thus told to come to the room where the radio set was.
But I was confined in a closet as I was being bullied by older kids.
“You are not good enough to hear the voice of His Majesty,” I was told.
From the inside of the closet, I could hear the fainting sound of the cicadas
And what I believed was the Emperor’s voice. I couldn’t understand a word he said.
After a while, I heard the kids running back from the room where the radio set was.
“Hey, war is over,” the same kid who bullied me opened the closet door and shouted to me joyfully.
Entire inn was filled with joyous voices of “War is over”, “The war ended.”
The kids who had serious looks until only minutes ago are shouting like real kids.
I don’t remember if any of them said to me, “Japan was defeated.”
The kids were not only the people who so quickly changed.
The world swiftly changed 180 degrees around me.
I was looking like a skeleton hunting for anything I could eat to survive.
But a few months later something in strange-looking bags and wraps were distributed among us.
They were some relief goods from America.
We kids had been trained to say, “American devils.”
But it changed overnight to say, “Americans, our savior.”
The older kids who bullied me showed unbelievable change, too.
Those kids would never forget to take some portion of my food rations.
But for the candies, cookies or whatever in the wraps from America,
They said to me, “Hey these are yours. You eat them all.”
Today, more than seven decades later, I can see myself looking like a skeleton
Reflected on the mirrors thousands of miles away.
The mirrors are the wars still going on half a way around the Globe.
I hear the news of kids hunting for weeds to eat.
I see the kids as the reflection of myself of those days on the mirror.
And I remember the pain of hunger which now makes me angry.
The anger is something I was too young to feel when I was a kid.
Who caused the Pacific war that made so many people suffer and die?
A war is the worst crime that can be committed on Earth.
There must be the perpetrators for all wars that break out.
Find the perpetrators.
I am now so angry that I could tie all such perpetrators to stakes.
I am so angry I could keep them tied to the stakes for days until they could feel the hunger that I felt.
The perpetrators might not know what the hunger could be unless they feel it themselves.
I am so angry I could burn the clothes the perpetrators are wearing with a torch
So that they would know by themselves the suffering of those who died in air raids.
I am so angry I could burn their clothes with a torch so that the clothes would stick to their skins.
A woman testified her clothes were burned instantly when the atom bomb exploded a mile away.
It was out of question to get a medical help then and her clothes were kept stuck to her skins.
Eventually part of her skins began to rot and flies came to lay eggs.
She is alive today and testified about the pains she suffered when the maggots were removed.
I would be happy to remove maggots one by one from the rotten skins of the perpetrators.
I’d be pleased to keep the perpetrators tied to the stakes to suffer pains and die
So that they could know by themselves the excruciating agony and pain many mothers went through.
There is a picture of a mother who died holding her baby in her arms.
She did not have the strength left in her body to shout for help. She was burned black.
The head of the baby is drooping and also black from burns.
Those who suffered and died number more than 3 million.
They are mostly children, women, the elderly and other powerless people.
They were born and have all the right in the world to live happy lives.
How could they want a war?
But, should they express an anti-war opinion, they would be subjected to arrest.
And I fear the history may repeat itself.
In the wake of the complete devastation by the war, our country renounced wars.
Under its new constitution it promised never to use force for settlement of international disputes.
Whoever penned the no-war Constitution, it was the greatest gift given to any people on Earth.
But there are signs today that the control over the constitution may be skillfully shifted from the people to the government.
Our country may arm itself again complete with the court martial
Under which the young people could be trained to kill or be killed.
Who are the perpetrators yearning to cash in on wars?
Are they inside or outside our country? Or are they inside or outside of our own heart?
Whoever or whatever they are, they are callous about the desire of the weak for peaceful life.
Whoever or whatever they are, I am ready to burn them by torch with my anger.
(AshiAkira, Aug. 15, 2016)