This year marks the 77th anniversary of dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of World War II.
As a Japanese citizen, I would like to write about this sensitive and controversial subject.
However, as I am neither a historical political scientist nor an expert in this field, I will not discuss the politics behind it.
August is a special month for Japan.
6 August was the day one atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima and another one, on 9 August, on Nagasaki, and 15 August was the day the war ended.
Every year in Japan, sirens are sounded at 8:15 am on 6 August, 11:02 am on 9 August, and at noon on 15 August in various locations, and a minute’s silence is observed for the repose of the victims of the atomic bombings and war and lasting world peace.
In Japan, peace education is provided in primary schools.
I was born and raised in a prefecture next to Hiroshima; I have visited the A-bombed cities in classes and extracurricular lessons using videos and photographs, and have heard first-hand the stories of A-bomb survivors who were young at the time and actually experienced the war.
At home, my grandparents, with whom I lived, also told me war stories every summer.
Although they were not hit by the A-bomb dropped in Hiroshima, they told me that my paternal grandparents’ brothers became weapons when they were young and lost their lives in Hiroshima and elsewhere and that my maternal grandmother’s first husband lost his life on the battlefield; some of their bodies were found and others not.
Although their stories were graphic and frightening to a young child, I thank them for talking to me about important stories.
These three days are not the only time we mourn the war dead and pray for peace.
Some of you may have heard of or seen the fireworks displays held in August in Japan.
The large flowers dancing in the summer sky are beautiful and have become a summer tradition, but many of these fireworks displays have their origins in memorials to the war dead and wishes for post-war reconstruction and peace.
As time passes by, the number of survivors who experienced the Second World War and the atomic bombings dwindles, we – who were born and raised in Japan (the only country to have experienced the atomic bombings) - feel more and more that what we can do is to pass on what they told us to the next generation, to mourn the victims of the war, to wish for lasting peace now and in the future and to think together about what is needed in our future lives.
The moment of August is a time to reaffirm this, especially for the Japanese people.