Japan’s pacifism is in jeopardy as challenges from China and North Korea loom.
Toshiyuki Mimaki recalls crying as he looked up at a blackened sunset after the nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
He was only three years old at the time, but he recalls disoriented and burned survivors escaping past his rural home. He recalls driving into town with his family in pursuit of his father amid an apocalyptic landscape.
Over the years, he has told these disjointed but vivid memories to schoolchildren, journalists, and anyone else interested in documenting the anguish of hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors. They are now a small and diminishing group.
“Only a few people like us survived the war and the atomic bombing.” “We are dying,” Mr Mimaki says as he sits in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park on Friday, where world leaders attending the G7 conference placed wreaths.
“There will be no hibakusha sooner or later.” “How will Japan have changed by that time?”
It’s a widespread worry in Japan. Their surroundings have changed. Japan has aged, and its postwar miracle economy has fizzled in comparison to China’s market and might. A worried Japanese public now wants more security against new threats coming on their door.
The governing Liberal Democrat Party (LDP), which has long had its hands tied behind its back by anti-militarization voters, is suddenly finding the cords loosening. The government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is going on the largest military spending spree in decades, with the goal of expanding its armed forces.
With each stride toward militarization, Japan becomes increasingly divided over its pacifist values.
“The world is going through a period of turmoil right now,” Mr Mimaki said. “Recently, Prime Minister Kishida began discussing increasing the military budget. ‘Are you planning to start a war?’ I wondered.