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Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011
Pondering victims and the future
Japan on Monday marked the 66th anniversary of its surrender to the Allied Powers in World War II amid unprecedented circumstances. Both those who attended the anniversary ceremony at Tokyo's Budokan and other Japanese must have superimposed the Tohoku-Pacific region devastation from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami over the destruction across the country caused by the war.
Many must have also pondered on both the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
At Budokan, the attendants prayed for the souls of some 2.3 million Japanese soldiers and civilian workers of the military who died in the war and some 800,000 civilians, mostly victims of air raids including the victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In his speech, Prime Minister Naoto Kan, also remembered victims of Japanese militarism and colonialism by referring to the tremendous damage and sufferings many people, especially those in Asian countries, suffered from Japan.
On top of these victims, the Japanese from now on must remember the victims of the March 11 disasters.
As of Monday, 15,698 people were listed as dead and 4,666 unaccounted for as a result of the March 11 disasters. Some 87,000 people are still living away from their homes as evacuees. Their sufferings — loss of their loved ones and communities, their economic difficulties, worries about their health, etc. — should not be forgotten, either.
Mr. Kan said, "With this experience, we promise to boldly rebuild the disaster-stricken areas, as well as Japan."
The Japanese should humbly learn lessons from the March 11 disasters and the Fukushima nuclear fiasco. Japan needs to build a nation well-prepared for possible major disasters.
People on their part should build strong bonds with each other to help each other in difficult times. Japan also needs to have the will and creativity to establish peace in this region free from the illusion that military actions and buildups can solve every problem coming from outside.
The Fukushima nuclear fiasco is forcing the Japanese to rethink their industrial structure and lifestyle based on an abundant supply of electricity. Japan must work out a new vision of its future.