Kyobashi – A Visual Poem to Keep Article 9 in Japan’s Constitution

IMG_3804I am back home in Osaka, Japan after a two week delay from typhoon Jebi earlier this month. I’m back just in time for the next typhoon Trami coming our way, expected to his here Sunday night!

We are stocked up with food and water, and my camera is ready! Let’s hope for the best and that everybody will be safe!

Meanwhile, I am recovering from jet lag. Up in the middle of the night a lot! So I finished a poem I started after visiting the Osaka International Peace Center in March of 2017, my second trip to Japan.

Growing up, my mother and father versed me well in what the Japanese did during World War II to our family and country. Yet what I didn’t know was how the United States won the war, by deliberately targeting civilians. By dropping incendiary bombs on the population who lived in wooden houses and burning them to death. The Peace Museum has been sanitized not to show the Japanese atrocities, I noticed, and I certainly know how savage they were.  Yet U.S. citizens are deliberately not taught about the realities of how we won the war. Our own atrocities. 

Opa Straub

My father as a baby in 1933 with my grandmother, his sister and his father. My Opa died a POW outside Tokyo in 1943. My father, his mother and two sisters were interned in Japanese concentration camps on Java, Dutch East Indies during the war. My father was separated from them by the Japanese for two years as a child alone at Camp Ambarawa

Deliberately targeting civilians is now considered a war crime. I can’t change history. I am alive today because World War II ended with the atomic bomb, which saved my father’s life when he was interned in a Japanese concentration camp on Java, Dutch East Indies during the war.

I am grateful for every soldier and veteran who served in our military today, including my late father, mother and late father-in-law, who was buried with honors after serving the U.S. Air Force for decades and was in the Occupational Forces of Japan.

But I, like Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara must ask, “LeMay said, ‘”If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.”‘ And I think he’s right. He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”

Why was it necessary to drop the nuclear bomb if LeMay was burning up Japan? And he went on from Tokyo to firebomb other cities. 58% of Yokohama. Yokohama is roughly the size of Cleveland. 58% of Cleveland destroyed. Tokyo is roughly the size of New York. 51% percent of New York destroyed. 99% of the equivalent of Chattanooga, which was Toyama. 40% of the equivalent of Los Angeles, which was Nagoya. This was all done before the dropping of the nuclear bomb, which by the way was dropped by LeMay’s command.

Flowers in the fountain of the Honen-ji Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, Japan.

Flowers in the fountain of the Honen-ji Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, Japan.

Proportionality should be a guideline in war. Killing 50% to 90% of the people of 67 Japanese cities and then bombing them with two nuclear bombs is not proportional, in the minds of some people, to the objectives we were trying to achieve.

War is a terrible thing. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just won a third term, and he’s determined to change Japan’s Constitution Article 9, a pacifist clause, which renounces Japan’s right to wage war and bars Japan from having a conventional military and sending troops abroad.

The U.S isn’t happy about that, and really how can you blame Japan for wanting to expand its National Self-Defense Forces with lunatic President Donald Trump’s trade war that may hurt Japan, and tensions with North Korea and China. Abe said he would meet with China’s President Xi if he won, as China, “…now faces an increasingly intense trade friction with the United States that holds the risk of slowing the domestic economy.


Osaka City Station, Osaka, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis

By working to improve ties with Japan, China could encourage more Japanese companies to invest to stabilize the domestic economy and diplomacy between the two nations.

Regardless the outcome, a build up in military to fight in war is not the answer – to turn feeling, kind young men and women into unfeeling killers and crank up the patriarchal, dominator system of military culture. For Japan today is a shining example of peace in the world. It’s compassionate philosophy, contemplative arts and reverence for nature are all guides to a peaceful world and what it’s naturally good at.

Now is the time for all good people around the world to speak out against war. People around the world are doing it. The Japanese are doing it!

An April poll by national broadcaster NHK found 29 percent of voters saw a need to change the Constitution, while 27 percent did not and most of the remainder were unsure. About 70 percent of respondents said they approved of the pacifist Article 9. And one Hibakusha, atomic bomb survivor, is bringing victims together to protect Article 9.

This country has started to stink of prewar Japan, not postwar Japan. Now is not the time for war victims to remain silent.” As the survivors of the bomb grow older, the very existence of the organization has become precarious, and Kido desperately wonders, “What can we do to break the idea that war damage is within the tolerable limit?”


Cactus flower, Sakuya Konohanakan, Osaka, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis

I could write another happy travel article about Japan. I enjoy writing about my experiences. So many remarkable, happy and sublime moments. But as time goes by and I see things more and more clearly, start to understand everything about what happened to my family – Dutch colonialists –  to Japan and really getting the truth about history – then and now, and why it happened, I  just becomes clear what to do with the rest of my life and time here in Japan. To write my story. And work for peace as I always have!

So here is the poem Kyobashi I finished and put with a picture I took about the center that opened my eyes about what the winner of wars has to do – be the biggest mass murderer. For on Augsut 14, 1945 a one-ton bomb killed 700 to 800 civilians who were evacuated to Kyobashi station.

We live again in very dangerous times. Time to get busy to speak in the name of peace. It is the only answer. Peace, for the Children. 

Kyobashi - A Poem by Sydney Solis

Kyobashi, a poem written after visiting the Osaka International Peace Center March 2017 in which I learned for the first time how the US burned to death thousands of innocent civilians with the Osaka Air Raids during World War II.

6 thoughts on “Kyobashi – A Visual Poem to Keep Article 9 in Japan’s Constitution

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