Friday, December 01, 2006

Hiroshima Controversy

After returning from Hiroshima, I was talking to one of my Japanese English teachers, and she was telling me how most of the AETs that she has worked with has visited HIroshima, but many Japanese students today have not. In the past, it was a mandatory field trip for primary or junior high students to visit the Peace Park and learn about the atomic bomb, talk to "hikabusha" (survivors of the atomic bomb), and raise awareness about the atrocities of war and advocating peace. She has been there 3 times, as a student and once as an adult, but her teenage daughter has never been. If she wants her daughter to learn about Hiroshima's history, she would have to take her there herself, at her own expense.

With the rise of international nuclear activity and tensions, it seems that everyone is on guard. So, can Japan be part of the world's leaders, discussing global conflicts while maintaining a peaceful viewpoint? Nowadays, the government is steering schools away from the Hiroshima field trips and is "encouraging" the schools to go to Tokyo, where Tokyo Disneyland is a symbol of a modern Japan, to visit the Imperial Palace and grounds, and enjoy the bustling capital's entertainment and shopping. (And what student is going to argue with this??) Even if some teachers still wanted to take their students to Hiroshima, pressure from the schools and parents keep them from going- in the fear that they would be thought of as "too liberal" and "non-conforming".

Any comments?

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