| Japanese tourists go on an elephant ride after observing Hiroshima Day in Kochi. (PTI)
New Delhi, Aug. 6: Takahashi Shouta was woken up at 4 in the morning today by his mother Nanami. The four-year-old, though upset at having been woken up two hours earlier than usual, didn’t complain.
For 45 minutes, there was frantic early morning activity. A few Japanese families from various parts of Delhi gathered in the Takahashis’ Vasant Vihar house.
However, 4.45 am saw absolute silence.
Over 5,000 km away from their homeland and 61 years later, the memory of Japan’s most tragic day still remains etched in the minds of over 800 Japanese citizens here.
“For all Japanese around the world, it is very important to observe silence at exactly this moment,” Takahashi Tasaku, Shouta’s father, says.
“This time,” is 8.15 am Japanese time — 4.45 am in Indian Standard Time — when in 1945, an atom bomb the Americans called Little Boy changed Japan’s “outlook” forever.
“Till the bomb, there were many Japanese who were very militaristic in their outlook. Now, you won’t find more peace-loving people than the Japanese,” says Tasaku, who works with Suzuki Motor Corporation in India.
Mineko Watanabe, for instance, says she finds it hard to understand when people in India and Pakistan “obsess with nuclear weapons”.
“Ask us Japanese the real cost of nuclear weapons. You can’t ever measure it,” the 25-year-old says.
Mineko’s grandfather was one of the over 1,40,000 civilians who had died in Hiroshima alone by the end of 1945. Several thousands — including Mineko’s grandmother — died of radiation-related diseases later.
Three days later, the Americans dropped a plutonium bomb — the Hiroshima one was a uranium bomb — on Nagasaki, killing, according to Japanese official figures, over 80,000.
Would it not be better to move on instead of constantly reliving memories of that day' Mineko laughs and says: “It’s important, so that history doesn’t repeat itself anywhere in the world.”
It’s a history, which, the Japanese here say, is hard to forget.
Momoka Saitou, 29, works with Mineko at Mitsubishi. She remembers her brother being severely reprimanded by her parents for wanting to buy a video game on war and conquest.
“My brother Hayato was slapped in the face by my mother,” she says, recalling the incident almost two decades ago.
Momoka says she and her brothers grew up listening to holocaust stories from their grandmother.
“Windows blew out and doors got pushed in due to the pressure of the bomb,” she recalls her grandmother, 7 at that time, telling her.
Shouta, bored of listening to things he doesn’t really understand, starts playing with his friend Misaki, Momoka’s daughter. He pushes her playfully.
Nanami gently catches hold of her son, and tells him, in Japanese: “No violence, even friendly.