Spread­ing wings of peace

A ges­ture of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is of­fered by the peo­ple of the city in­volved in de­vel­op­ing the atom bomb.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Insight -

MORE than 1,000 origami cranes folded by the res­i­dents of Los Alamos County in the United States have been gifted as a sign of peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to Hiroshima and Na­gasaki to mark the an­niver­saries of the atomic bomb­ings of the two Ja­panese ci­ties.

Sun­day was the 72nd an­niver­sary of the atomic bomb­ing of Hiroshima dur­ing World War II, and to­mor­row will mark the same for Na­gasaki.

The direc­tor of a his­tory mu­seum in Los Alamos, where the first atomic bomb was cre­ated, pre­sented the cranes at this year’s memo­rial cer­e­monies held in the two ci­ties to of­fer prayers for the vic­tims.

Ex­changes be­tween the place where the atomic bomb was de­vel­oped and the atomic-bombed ci­ties have in­creased through origami cranes.

Masaru Tanaka, a con­tem­po­rary artist and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at Ky­oto Univer­sity of Art and De­sign re­mem­bers be­ing ex­cited when he saw the origami cranes, which were made in the place where the atomic bomb was de­vel­oped, on his smart­phone in July.

The Los Alamos Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory in the Amer­i­can state of New Mex­ico was the base for the Man­hat­tan Project dur­ing World War II that de­vel­oped the atomic bomb. A bomb was suc­cess­fully tested in the New Mex­ico desert in July 1945, and the weapons were dropped on Hiroshima and Na­gasaki in Au­gust of the same year.

Ju­dith Stauber, direc­tor of the Los Alamos His­tory Mu­seum, posted on Face­book in July about the project to send the origami cranes to Hiroshima and Na­gasaki (face­book.com/LosAlam­osHis­tory). Tanaka, 48, was de­lighted to see a photo on Face­book of the mu­seum ex­hibit­ing the cranes folded by Los Alamos res­i­dents.

They still care deeply about the atomic-bombed ci­ties, he says.

Tanaka vis­ited Los Alamos in March. At the mu­seum, he ex­hib­ited an art­work fea­tur­ing a photo of the origami cranes former US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama folded when he vis­ited Hiroshima in May last year.

Tanaka was born in Hiroshima and is a child of an atomic bomb vic­tim. His fa­ther, 76, was ex­posed to ra­di­a­tion when he was four, and has keloid scars on both legs. But he did not ex­plain the scars, and has not shared the ex­pe­ri­ence even with his fam­ily.

As an adult, Tanaka learned that the atomic bomb­ing had left his fa­ther with a long-last­ing emo­tional scar. Since then, the artist has felt that it is his mis­sion to pass on the sto­ries of the vic­tims.

The Los Alamos mu­seum’s ex­hi­bi­tion that Tanaka par­tic­i­pated in fo­cused on the devel­op­ment of the atomic bomb. Sou­venir shops in the city sold T-shirts il­lus­trated with a mush­room cloud. Many peo­ple there be­lieve the atomic bombs led to the end of World War II and are proud of that.

In the city, Tanaka wanted to make good use of the origami cranes that sig­nify Obama’s mes­sage of peace. He be­lieves art rep- re­sent­ing the hope for peace and nu­clear abo­li­tion can con­nect peo­ple.

Some Los Alamos res­i­dents who vis­ited the mu­seum said Ja­pan’s at­tack on Pearl Har­bor dur­ing WWII led to the atomic bomb­ings. And some said nu­clear arms are nec­es­sary to pro­tect their coun­try from the North Korean nu­clear threat.

Others told Tanaka they want him to visit Los Alamos again. Some of­fered their hands to him and said they should stay in touch. Tanaka felt their re­sponse was pos­i­tive.

Around that time, he heard about Stauber’s project to de­liver origami cranes to Hiroshima and Na­gasaki.

There is a range of per­spec­tives in both Ja­pan and the United States about nu­clear weapons, Stauber said in an e-mail to The Yomiuri Shimbun news­pa­per.

“We were deeply af­fected by the per­sonal sto­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences un­der the mush­room cloud and are com­mit­ted to help­ing to spread the mes­sage of both the [Hiroshima Peace Memo­rial Mu­seum and the Na­gasaki Atomic Bomb Mu­seum], so that we might all bet­ter un­der­stand the range of per­spec­tives in the US and Ja­pan.

“Over­com­ing his­tor­i­cal per­cep­tions, the origami cranes spread their wings to bridge the [gap be­tween the] two coun­tries, which could fos­ter di­a­logue.”

Stauber vis­ited the Hiroshima Peace Memo­rial Mu­seum in Naka Ward, Hiroshima, last Fri­day and handed out about 650 peace-wish­ing pa­per cranes.

They are half of about 1,300 cranes that the Amer­i­can mu­seum col­lected with the rest to be pre­sented in Na­gasaki.

— Pho­tos: AFP

The Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome (fore­ground, left) in a crowded Peace Memo­rial Park in Hiroshima on Sun­day. The day marked the 72nd an­niver­sary of the atomic bomb­ing of the Ja­panese city dur­ing World War II. A US B-29 air­plane dropped the bomb over the city at 8.15am on Aug 6, 1945, mark­ing the first use of an atomic weapon on this planet. The det­o­na­tion ul­ti­mately claimed the lives of some 140,000 peo­ple.

— The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Net­work

Stauber (left) pre­sent­ing the pa­per cranes to of­fi­cials at the Hiroshima Peace Memo­rial Mu­seum last Fri­day.

Burn­ing in­cense and of­fer­ing prayers early in the morn­ing on Sun­day at the memo­rial ser­vice.

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