Memories of War Coming with the Heat

by Ajioka Osamu

The Bon Festival in the Corona Disaster

When the rainy season ends, it will be extremely hot. I know I complain a lot, but I still prefer hot summers. I think about the children whose summer vacation has been cut short by the Corona disaster. My grandchildren have gone to a summer camp again this year, and I hope they will enjoy it to the fullest.

Some people say not to return home, but I would like to tell them not to deprive themselves of the pleasure of seeing their parents and playing with their grandchildren during the Obon holidays. When the elderly become infected, they are more likely to become seriously ill. So, they are afraid of becoming infected, but there is no need to fear unnecessarily. Even if there is a possibility of infection from grandchildren to you, I would like to say that you should not deprive yourself of the joy of seeing your grandchildren during the Obon holidays because you are afraid of it.

The government and authorities should establish a full-fledged PCR testing and medical system, and should not, for some reason or other, fail to do so and call for “self-restraint” without knowing the effects of such measures. As for the government’s response to the corona crisis, all I can say is, “What are they doing about it? I could go on and on, but I won’t. I am a resident of Setagaya Ward, and I have high expectations for Mayor Hosaka, who has started to take action.

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Daily thoughts for August coming with the heat

A long time ago, despite my mother’s concern, I snuck out of the house and went to the creek to catch fish. My mother, a deeply religious woman, would tell me to let the fish I had caught in the water of the rice paddies, which were low on water due to the drought, go free. She said, “The life of a living creature is….” The story brings back memories of that time when I let the fish go because of my mother’s pleas. When I get tired of catching fish, I naturally think of summer days when I go out to catch cicadas or go swimming.

I was walking from in front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to Hibiya Park when I noticed that the cicadas’ voices always frighten me in Hibiya Park in the summer, but this year’s cicadas’ voices were somewhat muffled. Of course, there was almost no crowd. I saw a couple of lovers sitting on a bench in a corner, but it made me feel a little sad.

 Many months have passed since we “sat down” in protest in front of METI. There are always many things going on in the summer. The biggest one is that there is a “ritual about the war” or an event to commemorate it. What will it be this year? At the core of this event is the remembrance and reaffirmation of the national (local and civic) experience of war, “I hate that kind of war. This event is about remembering and remembering the voices of the people, including hearing the voices of the dead of war.


People praying on the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

However, those in charge, or rather in power, of the Japanese government have been performing deeds to the contrary, or at least ignoring them. They cannot ignore the experiences and voices of those who say, “We don’t want such a war,” so they say at events, “We don’t want war. We want peace. But apart from these superfluous words on the surface, they prepare for war. It is always as a movement to “revise the Constitution” and to promote the militarization of the Self-Defense Forces. Before long, this has become a discussion of a system capable of preemptively attacking enemy bases. This is probably what Abe means by “enshrining the Self-Defense Forces in the Constitution” in effect.

 The annual event will probably be scaled back amidst the Corona disaster, but I fear that “remembrance of the war” will be forgotten under that pretext. The government and those in power do not really think about war, or reflectively. We are aware of that. We must renew that memory, against the will of the government and those in power who want to make people’s voices about the war, “I hate that war,” disappear if given the opportunity. We must continue to dig up, reclaim, and preserve the history that is being forgotten.


Hiroshima Memorial cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims
“Let all the souls here rest in peace ; For we shall not repeat the evil.”
Hiroshima Memorial cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims

Certainly it is not easy to deepen one’s thinking about war. Those who do not learn their lesson prepare for war as a matter of course. It is difficult to think about non-war and anti-war in the face of such a nation and such trends, and to propose a responsive logic. This is as a process of breaking down and rebuilding the view of war again and again, and it is not easy to come up with a formidable idea. Books about the war naturally accumulate. I think I have read a lot of them. There is little that has become clear, and the feeling of not knowing is only increasing.

 My only memory of war is my infantile experience, and this is not what I would call a war experience. But we have been reliving the “war experience” and thinking about war in our postwar history. We have been resisting the government’s or the authorities’ or the times’ attempt to forget the experience of the war. We must deepen our reflection on the war and improve our insight.

 This is what awaits us in the days of summer. The trees along the streets have grown overgrown before I knew it, and I can even hear the small but audible sound of cicadas as I sit here in front of METI, exchanging greetings, “It’s hot again today, isn’t it?” We are charged with sitting here and thinking about the war. We have to do that.

Osamu Ajioka (Osamu Mikami) wrote on August 2

original text :

I don’t think there has ever been a year in which the damage caused by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been felt as keenly as it has this year.
Perhaps it is because I used to feel that the suffering of that era would never return, but now, on the contrary, I feel that it is coming closer.

Eric C. (@x__ok) August 8, 2020

Thanks to you for reading all the way to the end!

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Writer; pen name: Osamu Mikami. participated in the 1960 Security Treaty Struggle; president of the Socialist Students league in 1962. Influenced ideologically by Takaaki Yoshimoto. Joined the Second Bund and became a leader of the Rebel Banner Faction; resigned from the Rebel Banner Faction in 1975 and turned to writing.