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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 years.
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?

Aug. 2015

Today's piece
" The Hoshikawa River" Saitama, Japan 2015

fumikatz osada photographie