By BRETT FUJIOKA
RAFU STAFF INTERN
On the day Japan honored the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the Nikkei Interfaith Group expressed its solidarity in a service Friday at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo.
Faithful to its name, the service featured participants of different spiritual and religious backgrounds. Representatives from the Higashi Honganji, Nishi Hongwanji, and Senshin Buddhist Temples paid their respects with a Jodo Shinshu chant followed by a Shinto purification blessing. Rev. Marilyn Omerick of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church recited a memorial litany to the dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki near the service’s conclusion.
Origami paper cranes made by the Montebello Women’s Congregation stood on display along tables near the podium.
The interfaith group welcomed a special guest, Rev. Haruyoshi Fujimoto, a retired United Methodist Minister and survivor of the Hiroshima bombing.
“I was saved from the A-Bomb by the will of God, by providence,” he said.
Fujimoto was traveling to Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 to visit his sister, a trained nurse. He was in a building at the hour of the attack and remarked over the shock of the initial blast. Seeing his survival as an act of divine intervention, he believed that God saved him to deliver a testament of the holocaust he witnessed.
“We felt that we as clergy who represent Japanese American religious institutions needed to make statements from our faith traditions about the danger and tragedy of nuclear war. That is why we decided to hold the service here today,” Rev. Mark M. Nakagawa said.
Nakagawa, who serves at Centenary United Methodist Church, said the participation by the U.S. in the Hiroshima peace ceremony was an important step toward peace.
“It’s a very historic day in this country in respect to U.S.-Japan relations because for the first time in history our government sent an American diplomat [John Roos] to Japan,” said Nakagawa.
He added that he hopes President Obama will one day visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“For a President who grew up in the shadows of Pearl Harbor, I think it would be a powerful statement for him as President of the United States to one day Hiroshima and Nagasaki—Not necessarily as an admission of anything on the part of this country—but simply to acknowledge the suffering and tragedies and continuing legacies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he said.
“More than half of the population here in the United States thought that the dropping of the bomb was strategically right,” Fujimoto said.
“But now they are beginning to realize that dropping the bomb should not be justified. So to show this, the United States government sent an ambassador to the Hiroshima Memorial Service and also the United Nations General Secretary. I thought that this was a very epic-making day for a nuclear free world.”