Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Two subsequent voyages to Vietnam - 1967 and 1968

     Two other voyages to Vietnam followed in 1967 and 1968. The third, like the first, took medical supplies to Vietnam for the relief of civilian wounded. The second voyage attempted to take medical supplies to South Vietnamese Buddhists, but entry was denied both at Da Nang and at Saigon.
     Earle and Akie made two attempts to sail the Phoenix to Shanghai as a gesture of "friendship and reconciliation" from an American and a Japanese citizen to the people of mainland China, although the Japanese government refused to grant Akie a passport on the ground China and Japan had no diplomatic relations. In 1968 the Phoenix was stopped on the high seas by a Japanese ship. Two years of litigation followed in Japanese courts. In 1969, with a crew of six Americans, the Phoenix was stopped 20 nautical miles (37km) offshore by Chinese authorities and their entry was prohibited.
     After these attempts to sail to China, the Japanese government passed a new immigration law cracking down on "undesirable aliens" (1970) and Dad was expelled from Japan, his adopted country of 13 years.
     He and Akie sailed to San Francisco and settled in Ben Lomond, California. Dad sold the Phoenix and in exchange for the money from the sale, Quaker Center in Ben Lomond, California, gave Dad life tenancy in a cabin among the redwoods on their property. He and Akie served as resident host/ caretakers. 
     Dad taught Peace Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz and at Cabrillo College while Akie earned an MA in Peace Studies from Antioch College and worked as a career counselor at UCSC, specializing in peace-making careers and in placing students in overseas jobs. Dad's seminar class founded the Peace resource Center at Merrill College on the UCSC campus in 1975 but it became a casualty of financial cutbacks in the 1980s.
     Over a two-week period in 1981, Dad went back to activism. He joined a protest against Diablo Canyon Power Plant and was swept up in the largest arrest in the history of the U.S. anti-nuclear movement and against nuclear weapons research. Dad was one of the 1,000 arrested. I watched it on TV, from a jury room in Southern California where I was waiting to be put on a trial, watched people swarming over the fence and recognized my dad leading the way.    
         At the time of the divorce, Akie had asked Dad not only to sever all contact with Mum but with the three of us "kids."  He had explained this to me somewhat apologetically, saying it was "the Japanese way" and the only demand she was making of him.  Other than two brief visits which Akie granted him while she was back in Japan visiting her parents and a third one when I just showed up on their doorstep with my 11-month old son, determined to make him acknowledge he was a grandfather, I didn't see him again (except on TV) for 30 years.
     Since Akie was 21 at their marriage we had assumed she would be able to care for him as he aged.  Instead, ironically, when she was fifty she developed terminal cancer.  In 1994, when she knew she was dying, she called me (in Southern California).  He had dementia and she wanted me to get him settled in a Quaker retirement home.

     Fortunately there was a good Quaker retirement home near us and it had memory care in what felt like a private home, which suited Dad much more than an institution would have.  

     Earle was born in Des Moines, Iowa on October 18, 1910.  He died in Garden Grove, California, on January 11, 1998.  He was 87.
      In a 1985 interview, Earle commented on his life work. "I've been a kind of a renegade scientist. As soon as I stepped over the boundaries, as soon as my findings became politically sensitive, I lost my credibility as a scientist. Now a scientist will stand on a podium and say what I was saying 30 years ago. I'm like a voice in the wilderness that finally begins to hear answering voices."

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