[This piece was originally posted in Arabic here]
Although I have visited Japan many times and written about the Japanese miracle in technology, order, and work, today I write in about a whole different area: the message of social peace carried by Japan as a country, people, and government through the launch of its initiative for dialogue between Syrians and the people of Hiroshima, enabling them to study the experience of war and peace in Japan.
As I traveled to Hiroshima with the Syrian opposition and government team, invited by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it never occurred to me that I would receive here the deepest lesson of peace, in the city which is globally linked to the most hideous crime in the history of mankind and has been turned into a symbol for war, death, misery, and atrocities.
Junko is a wonderful eighty-year-old Japanese lady from Hiroshima who survived the bombing of the city seventy-three years ago which claimed the lives of some of her family members.
Around fifty men and women, living martyrs who survived the massacre, volunteer daily to meet the people visiting the Museum of Hiroshima to talk about this hideous tragedy, astonishing the visitors with their smiles and joy. They narrate their sorrowful stories while still integrating lessons of hope, glad tidings, resurrection, and hope after despair.
Throughout the day, in which we were accompanied by the Japanese lady, she never uttered a cross word about the enemies, the global conspiracy, or the criminal attack on Japan. All she talked about was the absurd game of war the Japanese played before the disaster, in which the Japanese leadership was involved for sixty years before the war, militarizing the Japanese people and turning them into monsters feared by all of their neighbors.
The Japanese lady’s words were not just a personal opinion, or the result of the Buddhist religious practice of forgiveness and tolerance. The most astonishing thing is that the language at the official level, and in academia, focuses on raising a nation that only knows the word war in history books, and has a life filled with peace and safety.
In the Museum of Hiroshima, which documents the disaster’s in great detail, the Japanese do not say that they were harvesting their fields when the United States decided to try its nuclear weapon, and Japan’s enemies decided, in a global conspiracy held in Potsdam, to destroy and invade Japan. Neither do they say that the leaders of that time (Churchill, Truman, and Stalin) suddenly decided to destroy Japan if it did not surrender unconditionally, when the United States took the initiative and dropped the bombs.
The Japanese have reached reconciliation. The Museum of Hiroshima states clearly that what happened was the result of the adventure of war. They do not deny it. They say: we (the Japanese) were playing this absurd game; our army was occupying China, Manchuria, and Korea. We used to subject Korean captives to slavery and humiliation. The details were horrifying and hideous. The museum also points out the horrible suicidal practices of the Kamikaze that set the pillars for a suicidal attack culture in the rest of the world. They say we allied with Hitler despite the monstrous acts of the Nazis; we were accomplices in the making of this bloody end.
One cannot underestimate the hugeness of this nuclear crime plotted at the highest levels, yet, the Japanese surprisingly do not adopt this biased vision. They never talk about a conspiracy to destroy their country. In Hiroshima, they built a park and made a monument in the form of a traditional Japanese house, on which they wrote: “The Tragedy Should not be Repeated.”
In order to prevent the tragedy from being repeated, the Japanese removed the word enemy from their culture; they reconciled with the whole world. America itself, which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and occupied Japan directly for six years, became their closest ally. They managed to play technology and safety in a very unique way. Those meeting in Potsdam (the British, the Russians, and the Americans) became their biggest commercial partners.
The Japanese museum neither includes slogans such as “never accept humiliation” or “revenge for Japan” nor photos of angry mobs tearing apart the British, American, and Russian flags calling for vengeance and chanting: March on.. The blood of martyrs is asking for revenge… Engage into the shower of bullets and take your share of death… It is either a life worth living or a grave better than your dark house.
The Japanese leadership chose the language of reconciliation and forgiveness. It is certain that there was anger during the crisis. It is a natural reaction from the people who witnessed the tragedy. People, after all, are not Gandhi or Jesus. It is certain that there have been voices calling for the Kamikaze to return and to hit deep in the United States, London, and Moscow, and all their allies. The Kamikaze is the oldest school of suicide in modern history. It is famous for its twenty-three pilots chosen by Kamai Asaiki (sic.) to perform suicidal attacks against the American fleet. Their leader Yukio Seki, who used to send them on missions, flew the twenty-fourth plane. Their sacrifice created a wave of eagerness in the hearts of Japanese to fight the Allies. The Americans say that Japan had sent 2400 Kamikaze to attack Pearl Harbor and other American facilities. The Japanese army was living the glory of the Kamikaze, linking it religiously and theologically to the sacred fire which burnt the army of Kublai, son of Genghis Khan, in 1821 and prevented them from occupying Japan.
The calls to revive the Kamikaze were strong in response to the crimes of the Allies, and there were even calls for defiance if the war lasted for a thousand years. However, it was Japan’s good luck that those calling for the return of the Kamikaze did not represent the government or its stance. Had those impulsive choices prevailed, the Japanese would have been living in defiance and war until now.
The Japanese listened to the voice of reason, rejected war, and chose peace. They put an end to the past, reconciled with their present time, and worked for their future. Had they listened to our advice from the miserable Middle East, that they are living under the woes of imperialism and invisible colonization, they would have turned into another North Korea, producing nuclear, Hydrogen, and germ bombs and failing to produce a loaf of bread.