The Tokyo chapter of PPSEAWA Japan held an International Peace Day gathering at the Tsuda College in Tokyo on September 22, 2017. Fifty two people attended, a half of them are non-members. After the gathering, to our great surprise and joy, out of the non-members who attended, we have acquired two new members and one associate member.
The speaker was Professor Aiko Utsumi, an honorary professor at Keisen Women’s College and a well-known historical sociologist. She gave a commemorating speech entitled, “The Asia-Pacific / Women / WWⅡ / Friendship”. Under this title, her main theme was the importance of being in ‘the actual spot’, and learning, sharing and having dialogue with each other. Through these processes we can change ourselves and help others to change, too.
Prof. Utsumi is very much a field worker who tries to connect the research with the practice. At the beginning, she had been interested in the issues of the foreigners living in Japan and the compensation for the Wartime damages, and both fields had become her own ‘actual spots’. Later, her interests has been expanded to more issues including the B and C class war criminals. Her endurance in pursuing the core of the problems and her concern and affection towards so-called “the small existences” have led her to many parts of the Asia and the Pacific including the Arafura Sea and the neighboring areas, where about 1,000 Japanese used to live engaging mainly in the pearl industry, prior to World War II.
Her talk ranged over a variety of subjects surrounding peace, and she traced various stages in the history of post WWⅡperiod, mainly in the Asia and the Pacific, and the Japan’s involvement in their historical incidents. She also referred to the present situation in Japan and said that the peace we enjoy today could not have been achieved by our country alone. It is the peace which had been made possible by various historical incidents and the sufferings of many people in Asia. Then, she emphasized the importance of putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, in order to understand and appreciate other people’s thinking as well as feeling.
This year, the 72th year after the end of the World War, many of us in Japan have been revisiting the history of the WWⅡ, including the Prewar and the Postwar periods. PPSEAWA Japan has organized “study group” sessions for a period of more than three years, and we have covered the topics concerning the number of PPSEAWA member countries as well as non-members in the Asia and the Pacific, such as the Republic of Palau, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines and the USA. The topic for this year’s International Peace Day is the most timely one. There was an active question and answer session after the talk and we were reminded the importance of considering problems from various angles.