Tuesday, May 10, 2016

FULL CIRCLE



     We returned to Hiroshima after 5 years, 9 months, 26 days, having visited 122 ports, spent 649 days at sea, and sailed 54,359 sea miles (about 62,520 land miles).
     We were prepared for a warm welcome from friends and the media.  For one thing Nick Mikami was the first Japanese to sail around the world.  But we were not prepared for the multitudes of people who not only welcomed us back as world travelers completing our circumnavigation but as heroes representing them.
     A single encounter changed Mum’s life.  She was walking along a Hiroshima street when a woman in a beautiful kimono approached her.  With tears in her eyes, she pulled up the sleeve of her kimono to reveal the rope-like keloid scars of nuclear burns and just said, “Thank you!”
     That memory was so indelibly branded into Mum’s heart it compelled her to make getting the message of Hiroshima to the world her life priority.
     All of us took their trust in us to heart.  Dad tried to participate in the already existing Japanese peace movement Gensuikyo.  Unable, because of his legal problems, to attend Gensuikyo's 1959 and 1960 World Conferences against A& H Bombs, he sent Ted in his place.  Ted reported that the conference resolutions were thoroughly biased against the West, being increasingly dominated by the Japanese Communist Party.  Still, when the head of Gensuikyo, Yasui Kaoru, invited Dad to attend their August 1961 world conference, he accepted.  
     “I knew that many people in Japan and elsewhere shared my doubts of the integrity of Gensuikyo,’ he admitted.  “But I hoped to be of some influence in persuading the conference to adopt a more balanced and objective viewpoint." Instead, “. . . as months passed, Yasui grew increasingly irritated by Reynolds' refusal to follow the party line and, that August, had him expelled from the world conference.”  (Wittner, ibid)
     At its 1961 conference, Gensuikyo delegates had passed a resolution declaring that the first government to resume nuclear tests should ‘be denounced as the enemy of peace and mankind.’  Unless, it went without saying, that government was communist— When the Soviet Union resumed nuclear testing only two weeks later, Gensuikyo remained silent.
     At that point non-political critics of all nuclear testing, like Dad, left Gensuikyo for Kakkin Kaigi (the National Council for Peace and Against Nuclear Weapons) and, later, Gensuikin (the Japan Congress Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs).  I remember him coming home to the Phoenix and telling us, “Peace cannot be achieved in an atmosphere of hatred.”





     

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