The volunteers — all over 60 years old — are lobbying the government to be allowed to replace some of the younger employees at the power station. “I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live,” says 72-year-old Yasuteru Yamada, a former engineer. “Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer.”
Though grateful, both the government and TEPCO remain tentative about accepting the senior citizens’ offer. “It is on the way but it is a very, very sensitive issue politically,” Yamada told BBC News. Goshi Hosono, the prime minister’s special adviser to the nuclear crisis, controversially referred to the group as the “suicide corps” during a recent press conference.
“I don’t think I’m particularly special,” Michio Ito, a retired primary school teacher, is quoted as saying. “Most Japanese have this feeling in their heart. The question is whether you step forward, or you stay behind and watch.”
“Using thirteen engraved stones of basalt and granite, the Japanese American Historical Plaza in Portland tells an important story of the Japanese in Oregon. Landscape architect Robert Murase created the theme and design of the plaza to tell the story of the hardships suffered by Japanese immigrants and the indignities imposed by the incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II. The plaza shows how the rights of Japanese Americans on the West Coast were denied, and honors the bravery of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces while their families were in the camps.
The story continues with poems inscribed on stones. The stone at the center of the plaza lists the ten internment camps. The base of this stone is surrounded by flagstones with jagged sides laid out in irregular patterns reflecting the broken dreams of the internees.
Poets Lawson Inada (Ashland), Shizue Iwatsuki (Hood River, deceased), Masaki Kinoshita (Portland, deceased), and Hisako Saito (Portland, deceased) composed the inscribed poems.
Murase was inspired to design the plaza while attending a Day of Remembrance memorial, which Japanese American communities hold throughout the country to remember February 19, 1942, the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. The order was the first step that led to the imprisonment of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. In March, 1942, the U.S. Army posted exclusion orders in towns and cities on the West Coast, advising all persons of Japanese ancestry to prepare to be evacuated from their homes and businesses.
The Historical Plaza, which presents poems of Japanese experiences, is a permanent reminder of the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The last stone has a bronze plaque with excerpts from the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which includes an apology for the unlawful imprisonment of people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. “
According to a Portland news website, the Plaza “bear[s] the great national legacy as the first memorial to civil liberties.”
The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe, first published in the U.S. - 1964 Translated from Japanese by E. Dale Saunders
Several years ago I watched the movie, The Woman in the Dunes, and then I bought the book, having been greatly intrigued. I have yet to finish it…I stopped at a section that has thusfar been too emotionally overwhelming. But I will finish it - it’s one of the best books I’ve read.
The Japanese have an ability to uncompromisingly translate the frailties of the human condition onto paper (and onto film…more on that later). Psychological torment - the anxieties, anguish, and cruelties of love, hate, revenge, fear, guilt, and desire, the search for redemption, etc., are conveyed as though a human soul has been sliced open, allowing the voyeur (us, the reader or viewer) to witness the bits and pieces by which a person torments themselves. If we choose, we can join in the experience, the conveyance of the psyche is so vivid as it’s laid bare.
That is why I have yet to finish reading this book. I’ve spoken to others who have read it, and they’re perplexed by my reaction.. apparently my psyche chooses to join in the experience, whereas theirs allows them to simply observe from a distance.
(Then again, Frankenstein was too painful for me to read a second time.)