The last air raid victims
As the 70th anniversary after Japan was defeated in WWII, I was especially
thought about war this summer. Many stories of the experience during the
war were told even by celebrities on TV and radio. One of the most impressive
to me was the one of Seiichi Morimura, novelist. He raised in Kumagaya
City, Saitama prefecture, during the war. Nearby my home town. So I could
picture his story with huge reality even though it's about long before
I was born
Kumagaya was the last city which got air raid by US in the war. On Aug
14th, 1945, a day before Japanese emperor announced the acceptance of the
Potsdam Declaration. The reason why Kumagaya got the huge air raid was
there were suppliers for Nakajima Airplane factory (current Subaru), which
assembled the Zero fighters.
That night, US bombing air planes "B-29" dropped incendiaries and bombs over the city, neighbor cities also. Bucket brigade in air-raid drills was almost meaningless in front of a sea of flames. The fire covered the city in short.
Although the Morimuras surrounded by fire, evacuated with the main street
to the out of town by good fortune. Next morning on the way to the place
where his house had used to be, he saw a lot of bodies in the stream, called
"Hoshikawa". The Hoshikawa River still runs downtown of Kumagaya.
However it's hardly picture the living hell from the today's scene in peace.
By the air raid of the night, more than 15 thousand people lost their houses,
injured and some of them were killed. "If Japan's surrender was a
day earlier, the air strikes wouldn't executed" I really heart breaking
when I think like that.
Then I remember I heard about Kumagaya air raid from my parents and grandparents
in my childhood. Even though our town has couple of miles distance from
Kumagaya, how did they feel on neighbor city which was burned down?
In post war period, US settled a camp in Kumagaya. I also heard about US
solders who papered my home town too from my grand parents. I felt that
air raid or military camp was like a story on other planet. But it's used
to be around us. I've forgot the fact for long time.
Once I got to know an art museum staff in New York. As he knew I was Japanese,
told me he was a veteran and had been in Japan for long before. He was
injured in war and hospitalized in Kumagaya. "US solder was injured
in Kumahgaya?" I couldn't make sense.
But he added that he was injured in Korean war. Maybe he belonged to the
Kumagaya camp. Many people's lives were intersected in war. But war left
trauma in each person's mind more or less, I'm sure.
We experienced war when we back a generation or two. It must be quite rare
the country which has never experienced war or conflict for last a hundred
So may be it's special to mention that Japanese people have lived in peace
at least last 70 years. Somebody say it's because the article 9th in the
constitution while the others say it's because station of US army. But
I think the biggest reason has been war experienced people's bitter memories
and strong wish for peace. So after they'll be gone, how we can picture
the craziness of war?
" The Hoshikawa River" Saitama, Japan 2015