SENIOR MOMENTS: Poll of Japanese and American Views of Hiroshima/Nagasaki



In my recent column I expressed views concerning the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My views of the bombings were largely affected by reading about and seeing pictures of the A-bombing as an 11-year-old, having just been released from Amache internment camp.

I was torn between being an American, though abused by my own  country, and being Japanese, feeling a kinship with those annihilated, not only in Hiroshima/Nagasaki, but in several cities in Japan destroyed by fire-bombing in the months prior to the A-bombing.

I have lived with this conflict for the 70 years since these tragedies, but said in the column that, at last, I welcomed the opportunity to express the sorrow I feel for the victims and the anger I feel toward my own government, as well the shame I feel as an American being a party to this crime against humanity.

Coincidently, The Rafu, the day after my column appeared, released the results of a Pew poll that surveyed Americans and Japanese about their views concerning the A-bombing. Not surprisingly, 56% of Americans said the A-bombings of Hiroshima/Nagasaki were justified and 34% thought they were not. Also, not surprisingly, 14% of Japanese thought the bombings were justified, and 79% thought they were not.

I would be very interested in the results if there was similar poll taken in the JA community.

David Watanabe is a Hawaiian Sansei who has, on occasion, sent me his views via email. I get very few responses to my columns, and as I have noted previously, they come mainly from Hawaiian JAs. As I have noted in another column, I believe Hawaiian JAs are more expressive of their opinions. I attribute this to their being raised in a community where they have not experienced the suppression experienced by mainland JAs. I would be interested in hearing from Hawaiian and mainland JAs on this.

Nonetheless, with his permission, I am copying David’s recent message to me:

“Hi Phil,
long time no talk!! Your April 7 Rafu article was right on the mark. I am of the same opinion as I enter my 8th decade, one decade behind you. The older I get the more I learn about the world and our country, U.S.A.

“Contrary to what you wrote, though, I cannot say our country is ‘great.’ Good, yes, but not great. Besides the atomic bombing we’ve done other terrible things including Vietnam, Iraq, and interfering with the affairs of other countries, including supporting dictators.

“And as for taking care of our own people we have politicians who want to deny (repeal Obamacare) medical care to the ones who can’t afford it. Until we take care of our own people and honestly deal with other countries, I cannot say the U.S. is a great country. But we are probably the best we got.

“Good health to you. —
Dave in Pasadena”

My response:

“Hi, David. Good to hear from you again. We don’t often talk about these controversial things in public, especially when we take a position that we know runs counter to what is probably a popular position. A big advantage about being in the 9th decade is you stop being so concerned about what others think.

“In spite of all that is wrong with this country, I have to try to look at the U.S. from all sides.

“When those of us were sent away to camp, it felt like being abused by one of your parents. Redress helped a lot to remedy this.

“I agree with you that the disastrous conflicts we engaged in came about after insane policies. America, for good or ill, is all I have and will ever have. Seen in this way, I have to be positive.

“What keeps me going is the need to make things better. Gandhi is quoted as saying something like, ‘Happiness is putting into action those things you believe in.’ I am doing my best to do this and I have never been happier in my life.

“Aloha — Phil”


Phil Shigekuni writes from San Fernando Valley and can be contacted at [email protected] The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.



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