Kandori Shizuka, from Japanese for Peace, opened the public forum, Who Will Stop Nuclear Next Use? This public forum was conducted by Nautilus Institute at RMIT on Sunday 20 October 2009.
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Shizuka Kandori: Hello. My name is Shizuka. I’m honored to speak to you on behalf of Japanese for Peace today. I joined Japanese for Peace in
2006 after I helped a peace concert in August. Today, I want to share some of the episodes that I have had in Australia.
But firstly, I would like to mention that Nobuko Hough will join us later today. Nobuko is from Hiroshima, and she lost her sister, who was 12 years-old, in the atomic bomb attack of Hiroshima.
I came to Australia in 1998 to work at the secondary school as a Japanese Assistant Teacher, and since then, I teach my students about Hiroshima and Nagasaki every August. This has made me become more aware of my identity of being from Hiroshima.
My placement for the assistant position was in Warrnambool, which is about three hours away from Melbourne. When I started my placement, I introduced myself to the students. And they said, “Oh, Hiroshima, that’s where it got bombed.” Those students had already learned about Hiroshima and the story of Sadako Sasaki at their primary school.
In a few months later, I was talking to my friend who was teaching as a Japanese Assistant Teacher as well, at the primary school in the same town. She asked me,
“Do you know anything about Sadako Sasaki?” She was from Nagoya, and she didn’t know much about Hiroshima, or the story of Sadako.
Some teachers at her primary school were going to teach children about Hiroshima, and they asked her to talk about Hiroshima and the story of Sadako to the children, but she had no idea. I was surprised to know that this Japanese person from other parts of Japan didn’t know much about Hiroshima or the story of Sadako.
During my stay of 12 years in Australia, I have met more Japanese people who didn’t know the story. I was prepared to come to Australia to teach Australian children about Hiroshima, but I wasn’t expecting to teach Japanese people about Hiroshima.
Now, I asked the Japanese assistant teachers from the same program to help our peace concert and use the opportunity of this concert to inform young Japanese people about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I always hoped that they learned something from the concert and passed the message to other people around them.
When I started teaching in Australia, my main focus of talking about Hiroshima was to get students to know about what happened in Hiroshima. But one day, one
student said, “Japan attacked Australia, too.” I didn’t have enough English back then, and I couldn’t say anything back to that comment.
The Japanese teacher helped me, but I was too shocked to respond. I also, sometimes, had some students asked me, “Were you there when it happened?” I told them that I wasn’t there, but my Grandparents and some of my relatives on my Father’s side were there. And I realized that I didn’t know much about where exactly they were and what happened to them.
My Grandparents never told me anything about their experiences before they died. The only people who remember about it are my Uncles and Aunties, but they never want to talk about it. In order to recover from the trauma, they refuse to talk about it, because they will remember about it. I still want to know more about what my family went through, but I’m not yet succeeded in getting in the information directly from my relatives.
This year I have a year eight Japanese class which has more students who are not very interested in learning the language, and it’s been a challenge for me to teach. At the start of August, I prepared a lesson to introduce about Hiroshima, and we watched a documentary film called “The A-Bomb: What Happened to Hiroshima?”
The short version of this film is available on the Internet, and it includes the interviews of the survivors, and the scenes of Hiroshima that were taken in late September and October in 1945. It also introduced the after-effect of the atomic bomb. I firstly thought it might be too confronting for my students to see this
movie, but it was actually very effective to make students realize – this really happened. And there are people who are still suffering from the bomb.
The discussion with them continuing the following lesson, one of them said, “Why do we need the atomic bomb? We don’t need it.” And other one said after the lesson, “It was really interesting to discuss about it.” I think these young students will be some of the important people to stop nuclear use in the future.
Although we all have seen and known what will happen if the atomic bomb were used, there are still bombs around the world. Fortunately, we have a new leader in the United States who is trying to change the world to abolish nuclear weapons. However, I’m reading more articles on the Internet that the Japanese government doesn’t want America to abolish nuclear weapons.
Now, we have a new government in Japan, and I hope they will support the abolition of nuclear weapons. However, we are still unsure of which way the new Japanese
government is going to move in this issue. The recent report says the average age of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are around 80 years old now, and we have less people who can tell us about their experiences.
On the other hand, I have recently noticed there have been more younger people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who want to know about what happened and pass the survivors’ messages to younger generations. Through my experiences with Japanese for Peace, and my teaching, I have learned more about what Japan did to other countries, which has been a big learning curve for me.
In order to let a younger generation not to repeat the same mistakes, it is my responsibility to pass the message to the younger generation, and I would like to continue my grass-roots activities in Australia. And I hope there will be some day when we don’t have any nuclear weapons in the near future. Thank you very much.
About Kandori Shizuka
She presented this speech at a public forum on nuclear disarmament, Who Will Stop Nuclear Next Use? The forum was organized by the Nautilus Institute at RMIT. It was held on Sunday 20 September 2009 at RMIT Storey Hall.