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From Asahi Shimbun

Japanese version

'Towards a Nuclear-Free World
    From Japan:
         Thoughts from a Country Hit by Nuclear Bombs - 2013'(4)

My Tanka,* Please Lead Us to Peace
By Machi Tawara, tanka composer  (February 1, 2013, The Asahi Shimbun Newspaper)


In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, I took my son, an elementary school third-grader, from Sendai to Okinawa to take refuge there. The two of us have stayed on Ishigakijima Island ever since.

I was asked, "Did you abandon Tohoku?"and was the subject of other such criticisms on Twitter, which made me depressed. I wrote, "Away you've run to the west, to the west; with your child, you stupid mother. See if I care." This is one of the tanka I included in my poetry collection published last year on March 11. I acted as a mother and expressed my thoughts accordingly.

I realized I had not prepared [for the disaster] until that day. Once a nuclear accident happens, it robs you of your homeland; it even affects the lives of babies yet to be born. We must develop new sources of energy and move toward zero nuclear power, even if it means we need to lower our standard of living.

People of Okinawa regard their ancestors with deep respect. They believe they owe their existence today to their ancestors of hundreds of years ago. That's why they are able to consider the lives of their offspring hundreds of years from now. Japanese politicians today are totally lacking in this way of thinking.

August 6, 9, and 15. These days have come and gone many times, and yet the appeal for a total ban on nuclear weapons has not been realized, and wars continue around the world. But humans have the power of imagination. Rather than harm to those who start them, war causes damage to the most vulnerable among us, especially children, and deprives them of their future. I learned this as a child when I listened to my mother read a picture book by Chihiro Iwasaki.

Please imagine you are about to send your child to a battlefield. You have taught him not to commit murder in peacetime, but war will force him to do just that. Even if we do not experience war or nuclear explosion ourselves, we should be able to react to the tragedy of war as if it were our own.

In composing tanka I want to find little happiness in my mundane daily life. I can find happiness in it because it exists on the foundation of peace. I do hope my tanka leads us to peace.

* Tanka is a form of Japanese poetry composed of thirty-one syllables.


Machi Tawara, born in Osaka in 1962, is a tanka composer. She began composing tanka while a student at Waseda University. "Salad Memorial Day" (sarada kinenbi), her first collection of tanka sold more than a million copies in 1987. On March 11, 2012, she published "Machi Tawara 3.11 Tanka Collection: Since Then" (Tawara Machi 3.11 Tanka-shu Arekara), a series of tanka she composed about her reaction to the Great East Japan Earthquake.

(This was compiled through an interview by Daisuke Shimizu.)