A few days ago we visited the Memorial Peace Museum in Hiroshima on the island of Honshu in Japan. It is hard not to be rendered speechless as the story of the Japanese suffering after the bomb reveals itself at the site.
Around 140,000 people are believed to have lost their lives immediately and in the weeks following the bombing, many in the most excruciating pain from their wounds and burns. It must be the largest recorded homicide of innocents ever perpetrated by mankind on its fellows. It was not until the statesman Barack Obama that a US President visited the site of their ‘victory’.
I won’t go into the merits or justifications of the bombing, except to question whether the second, larger, bomb on Nagasaki was really necessary. Some say that the Emperor Hirohito refused to surrender after the first bomb, but Nagasaki was dropped just three days later, so he didn’t have much time to contemplate his choices.
When you are there, a stillness seems all around you, as if somehow those anguished souls remain in proximity to their physical bodies. It is a deeply affecting place.
Away from Hiroshima, it is hard not to be profoundly affected too, by the Japanese reverence for tradition, a feeling of depth and profundity that you can find from the wearing of yukatas, to toe-socks and tea ceremonies. We have experienced endless ‘thoughtful-kindness’ here, of a type and intensity rarely felt these days in the UK as it tears itself apart in populist isolationism.