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Welcome to TokyoFreePress Sunday, March 26 2017 @ 06:34 AM JST

The Postman Never Rings the Bell Twice

At 11:02 a.m. sharp, August 9, the bell of Urakami Cathedral, rebuilt, in 1958, 500 meters away from the Ground Zero of 1945 A-blast, started to toll along with the sounds from other bells, sirens and horns of ships in the port, to mourn for more than seventy thousand people who were sacrificed sixty years ago to prevent the "26-century-old" Imperial institution of Japan from being dismantled.

Quite understandably the Emperor didn't show up, or he hadn't been invited in the first place.

It's noteworthy that someone from the Russian Embassy was invited there to lay the wreath representing a nuclear power for the first time ever.

In his speech, Nagasaki Mayor Itcho Ito almost singled out the United States when he said, "I am angry that the leaders of the nuclear powers trampled on the hopes of people around the world who want to abolish nuclear weapons [at the Nuclear Nonproriferation Treaty review meeting in May]." This indicated the Cold War hasn't been, and will never be, over in the brain of the Mayor with some socialist background.

But otherwise, the proceedings of the memorial service were much the same as those for the Hiroshima part of the 60th Anniversary that had taken place three days earlier.

To make a long story short, Hiroshima and Nagasaki have long organized their annual memorial services separately from each other simply because of ideological differences between the two organizers.

But obviously it's about time now to have thought about unifying the anti-nuke organizations into one because two inane ceremonies every year are one too many, to say the least.

If you allow me to explain my point of contention by hypothesizing an indecent thing, just imagine what if Al-Qaeda had hit another big U.S. city on September 14, 2001. Can you visualize that the Mayors of the two cities holding their memorial services for the year of 2061, one after the other, with a 2-day interval in between?

I'm not sure, but perhaps Hiroshima Mayor was hinting at the unification when he declared, in a little confusing way, the next nuclear year to be "the year of Inheritance, Awakening and Commitment." He said the new nuclear year will last "369 days" from August 6, 2005 through August 9, 2006.

It's not really unusual when two business entities with different fiscal calendars are going to merge into one company. Either one of the companies has to shorten, or lengthen, its fiscal year to keep pace with the other's calendar at the time of the merger.

I'm not suggesting, though, that the unification should go so far as to share the epigraphs on the monuments between Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The epigraph on the monument sitting in the Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park reads: LET ALL THE SOULS HERE REST IN PEACE; FOR WE SHALL NOT REPEAT THE EVIL.

In the past the ambiguous epitaph has caused a lot of controversy. Anti-U.S. right-wingers have always asked, "Who are 'We'?" Despite the silly question, it's obvious 'we' are us (not the U.S.) And that's why those right-wing nuts and winos have repeatedly vandalized the monument.

Neither do I recommend a famous supplementary notion to the above-mentioned epitaph, which you can find on the official website of Hiroshima-city, be shared between the two cities. It says: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat the evil."

These notions and epitaphs are something to be abandoned altogether when unifying the anti-nuke movements because the underlying pathological fixation to the past is the real evil facing Japan.

Besides, the unification would enable the Prime Minister to halve his travel expenses, although Junichiro Koizumi should do much, much more than just saving his expenses.

As I wrote in the August 7 TFP story entitled "60th anniversary was observed in the same old way", the history of Japan's weak-kneed nuclear diplomacy has been filled with mea culpa over innumerable what-ifs, such as:
- What if Prime Minister Eisaku Sato hadn't signed the NPT back in 1970 when China had already been nuclearized?
- What if Prime Minister Takeo Miki hadn't asked the Diet to ratify the treaty in 1976?
- What if Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa had insisted Japan would consider the same course of action when North Korea started threatening to withdraw from the NPT in 1993?
- etc., etc.

You may have read, or seen a film adaptation of, "The Postman Always Rings Twice" - one of my favorite crime novels - written by James M. Cain in 1934.

In our everyday life, the "postman" often rings the bell twice, or even many more times, just like the bell of Urakami Cathedral tolls over and over on August 9.

On the contrary, the postman always rings only once when it comes to international politics. The same holds true, perhaps to a lesser degree, with domestic politics.

For the Prime Minister and the Mayors of the two cities, who now look to have lost track of reality, I would rewrite the above-mentioned epigraph this way:


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