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PSR in Japan: "American Guilt: Japan Through an Activist's Eyes"

Posted by Michelle Gin on August 27, 2012

Michelle Gin is participating this year in the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Bike Tour in Japan. Preceding the World Congress, students historically have biked around the host country and talked with local community leaders and students about the importance of nuclear abolition to the future of the world.

Participants in the 2012 Bike Tour in Japan for the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

It is the end of Day 2 of the International Peace Bike Tour in Japan! It is also the middle of the night as I write this and hope I will not suffer too much for the lack of sleep tomorrow. The last two days have felt like a week because of the incredible amount of things we have accomplished.

I am not sure when I'll have internet again, but please keep reading about the experience here, at our group blog, on my Facebook page, or the group's Facebook page!

I met the Mayor of Nagasaki:

Yesterday, I met the Mayor Taue of Nagasaki in the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Museum. Our grouped expressed our views and hopes for a nuclear-free world. We also discussed how nuclear energy could turn into a nuclear disaster as was seen in Fukushima. Our time together was brief, but Mayor Taue was in full support of our goals. He wished the group a successful and safe bike tour, and if he had the time, would have liked to join himself.

Nagasaki Peace Memorial Museum:

Wow...there are several pages missing from American history books. I knew to expect more information that I had ever learned in school, but could not fully prepare for the emotions I felt. Imagine scorch marks of a ladder in a wooden fence. It was the place of where a ladder stood seconds before the blast. Such power vaporized it and all is left is a black mark. And next to that ladder is the outline of a human being. A human being, just like you or me.

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel walking in. I knew it would be a challenge to represent the U.S. in this bike tour focused on peace, nonproliferation and our environment. Despite being a first-generation Chinese-American and knowing that my family had no ties to the U.S. at the time the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, I still felt such guilt having an American passport and daring to stand in a museum dedicated to the tragedy humanity faced in 1945. 

Tears were brought to my eyes as I listened the stories of survivors. I felt like I was going to be sick and had to walk away in fear that I might actually vomit from the horrors they described. The years of pain from one woman's story was very difficult to listen to. She was bed-ridden for 10 years as she had no skin, constant nausea and headaches, unable to keep food or drink down, and wished for death every day. My only thought: no matter how bad a war may be, we human beings (not just Americans, all people), cannot ever detonate another nuclear weapon. We know the consequences and we are not human if we can wish this agonizing pain onto others. There are others ways to a safe and peaceful world.

'Street Action':

In the morning of our 2nd day, we stood under the hot sun with 50 posters, Hibakusha Worldwide posters. What does that mean, you ask? 'Hibakusha' means a survivor of the Nagasaki or Hiroshima nuclear attack. Our posters were showing all of the other places around the world, including the U.S., that has been affected by nuclear energy and weapons. We passed out flyers to locals asking them to join us in our presentation we hosted later in the afternoon.

FYI: Each step to make nuclear energy or weapons is a dangerous process and harmful to one's health. From acquiring the uranium, to transporting it to a facility, to processong it, to testing it, to 'safely' using it in a nuclear energy facility, to storing it, and to disposing of it, it is signifcantly harmful and increases the chances for many types of cancer, leaukemia, and other illnesses.  

Incredible high school activists:

Around 100 high school students from across Japan, including Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Fukushima, and from nearby countries like the Philippines and South Korea attended a joint conference with our group. We heard from a girl (10th grade, I believe) and her personal story of how she was evacuated from Fukushima, stripped searched for radiation poisoning, parated from friends, and banned from her home for over a year. Now she is speaking out against nuclear energy because she knows from experience, the awful consequences.

Bicycles are here!

Thank you Trek! All of our bikes were donated for the two-week use by an American company or group in Wisconsin, USA! I have a lovely red bike and spent a couple minutes today attaching my SPD pedals! A big thank you to 30th Century Bicycle for donating the pedals and hydration pack and to Nor Meyers in Mt. Vernon, IA for donating the shoes to match!


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