Reis naar Japan op uitnodiging van de Japanse ambassade 2009
Speech Nagasaki 2009 – Annemarie ten Brink
Speech Nagasaki 2009
Annemarie ten Brink
This is a very special moment for me…. To be here, here of all places, at the war monument of Nagasaki, To be here, where the bomb fell… That bomb that has been diastrous for you in Japan and was celebrated by us, becouse it brought an end to the Pacific War.
I still remember it clearly, becouse at that time I was 14 years old. For three years we had been imprissoned by Japan.
And now we are here…. We, a hand full of survivors of that Pacific War. Invited by the world Peace Programme of Japan, to get the opportunity to meet another Japan and to be able to drop all the ideas of Japan that were created by our war experience.
At that time of war we were captured by Japan. For three long years, a never ending fearful time, we were all imprissoned in Japanese concentration camps, women and children were separated from the men, our fathers and brothers, who were imprisoned in the so called men camps. We saw a lot of intimidation and brutal violence of the Japanese guards. We all lost family. Also my father, who had always been a very healthy man. died in the camp when he became very ill and there was no medication provided.
Others died of hunger, lack of hygene, hard labour, aggression and cruelties, terrible transport and combinations of it all. We did not recieve any mail, so we did not know if our family in other camps were still alive.
The Japanese were our aggressor, the cruel rude suppressor, our enemy. That is what we saw and that is how we experienced it. The japanese soldier as a model for the Japanese people, being rude, cruel, always shouting. It became a deep imprinted picture.
But at some time in my life, I had a talk about war with a very wise man. I experienced a bigger perspective on war. I knew at that moment: this is how it goes, this is what war does with people. Aggression is not speciffically a Japanes quality and we ourselves are no exception in this. War deforms people, war is based on aggression. The other is the ennemy and all terrible qualities are to be expected. Power, fear, greed, mistrust are the ingredients of war. Soldiers under pressure of keeping control over a mass of unwilling people in the camps are the same men as the loving husbands and fathers at home, only in different circumstances. It is shocking to realise, what happens in wartime, it pulls the worst out of people.
It is also the picture we will never forget and what we remember the best. We seem to have forgotten that, after the capitulation of Japan, we were protected by the same Japanese guard against the aggression of the Indonesian people. They had dropped the shouting and rudeness. The same men…. different cicumstances….
For the future it is important to set the example, becouse our children have to take care of a world in distress. This world desperately needs us, it needs us becouse this world has become very small. If we cannot see that we have to think global, that we are all connected, we cannot face the problems that we created. The world is burning: mass distinction, global warming, polution, exhaustion of the earth, forrests cut down and the oceans containing enormous islands of plastic soup in which life is not possible…..
And still we fight each other, still there is war everywhere, still we don’t understand that we have to come to our senses and get interrested in each other, start to care and come together, becouse together we have to fight our reckless and selfish behaviour if we want our beautiful planet to survive.
We have to face our egotism, our greed, our mistrust, our fear, our ideas, our personal emotions. We have to drop it all and make a beginning to understand that on the surface we seem very different, but if we look a little closer, beyond the surface, we will see that we are not so different at all. In all the essential things we are the same. We all just want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved, we all want to have healthy, intelligent and happy children….., a good life. But also, we all have that deep fear that there is not enough, so we use all our intelligence to fight eachother. And in our need for security, our mistrust and greed, we destroy everything that is worth living for. How could we find happieness in that….
So it is important to be here and experience another Japan, to be able to open our hearts for the Japanese people.
True happieness can only be found in opening our hearts for each other. That is where World Peace has to begin, here in our own hearts.
I would like to see this meeting with Japan, which suffered also tremendously from war and has been severely punnished by that all destroying atomic bomb, as a step towards world peace. We celebrate at this moment our 400 years of connection in business. But business is not enough, that is coming together becouse there is advantage involved. The only advantage in being interested in the other, in the happiness of coming together, in the joy of our hearts of becoming peacefull and reponsable people. Imagine…..
Here in Nagasaki, that place of all places that experienced the worst of war, I bow my head for all people in the world, that suffered and suffer from war.