Re: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, O'Sensei
Well, Ellis Amdur's remarks would be taboo here, I can tell you.
I have given a lecture to Hiroshima University students for the past few years on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from a foreigner's viewpoint, or, Truth, Lies, Hiroshima, and World War II.
To soften the blow a little, I compare Japan with other countries, in the way that the truth gradually emerges, despite the official attempts to hide or suppress it. Germany and France are two examples. This year I gave the lecture, always in fluent Japanese, to 400 students, who heard me in complete silence. When I got to the part about Unit 731 (how the perpetrators were let off to go into eminent positions in university medical schools), you could hear a pin drop.
I gave the same lecture in a series called the Hiroshima Peace Forum, sponsored by Hiroshima City. I was the first foreigner to give a lecture in this series and I definitely blotted my copy book (No, I covered the entire book in indelible ink). There were about 100 in the audience, and the comments after the lecture generally suggested that I was far too concerned with the past. We should look to the future and work towards a total abolition of nuclear weapons: this is far more important than dwelling on World War II. (This is called by Japanese scholars a 'masochistic' view of history.) The city government refused to publish or publicize my lecture, alone out of all the series, because it was too critical.
The official 'Hiroshima View' starts off with the definite statement that the atomic bombing was a 'crime against humanity', towering in proportion over all the other aggressive acts of World War II (on both sides). So Japan's wartime aggression (or its defensive war, in a fight for survival against the west) have to be seen in the right context. Having secured this point, it is then quite easy to argue that the 'citizens of Hiroshima', secure on the moral high ground, are united in a 'deep yearning' to abolish nuclear weapons. This deep yearning is called 'the Spirit of Hiroshima' and Hiroshima is always written in katakana. So the Mayor makes a Peace Declaration every year and goes off around the world preaching the 'Spirit of Hiroshima', like a gospel. In 2001, the New York Trade Center attacks were brought into the message, as if the victims were somehow sharing in the Spirit of Hiroshima from across the pacific.
(US members of Aikiweb should not get me wrong here. In a previous post Jennifer Smith mentioned the 2002 attacks on the World Trade Center. I saw the attacks live on television (as a result of a chance post on E-Budo), and saw the full horror unfold, with people jumping from the upper floors to escape the flames, and then both building collapse. Shortly after I was contacted by an aikido student of mine who lived a short distance away. He was in shock and angrily challenged me to justify his aikido training, any aikido training, in the face of such horror. I could not say very much except listen.)
The Spirit of Hiroshima is the concentrated, 60% proof, version of the postwar Japan-as-peaceful-victim ideology. And the Hombu also subscribes to this version, but in a less concentrated form, and more suitable for consumption by everybody. Aikido as a peaceful budo fits exactly with this new postwar ideology of Japan as a peaceful people forever eschewing war. So it is part of the ideology to show that O Sensei also changed his aikido from his 1930 Budo Renshu period and that it is also quite correct for Kisshomaru Ueshiba to adapt O Sensei's peaceful message from its prewar Omoto origins to postwar circumstances. So his lectures and discourses have been edited accordingly.
Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 07-31-2007 at 08:21 AM.