Early summer 2016 – Green Park

Hello Hugo

I am not sure whether you went to see President Obama when he visited your city yesterday but the visit is bound to rank as one of the most significant days for Hiroshima in your childhood.

Earlier this week I had to visit a client at a prison in Surrey. I didn’t have to be there until 9am but generally get up very early these days. Whilst travelling through central London I got off the subway at Green Park station and walked through the park down to Buckingham Palace as I had some spare time. Below are the photographs I took; there were very few people around as it was before 7am.

Green Park 1

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Hiroshima visit by Obama


Hiroshima memory must never fade, Obama says on historic visit

  • 10 minutes ago
  • From the section Asia
Obama hugs atomic bomb survivor Shigeaki Mori, 27 MayImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Obama hugged atomic bomb survivor Shigeaki Mori

Barack Obama has become the first serving US president to visit Hiroshima since the World War Two nuclear attack.

Mr Obama said the memory of 6 August 1945 must never fade, but did not apologise for the US attack – the world’s first and only nuclear bombing.

Mr Obama spoke to a number of survivors and in an address called on nations to pursue a world without nuclear weapons.

At least 140,000 people died in Hiroshima and another 74,000 two days later in a second bombing in Nagasaki.

‘Best of friends’

Mr Obama first visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum before walking to the Peace Memorial Park, accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Both men stood in front of the eternal flame. Mr Obama laid a wreath first, followed by Mr Abe.

“Death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” Mr Obama said in his address, noting that the bombing had shown that “mankind possessed the means to destroy itself”.

Mr Obama said the memory of Hiroshima must never fade: “It allows us to fight complacencies, fuels our moral imagination and allows us to change.”

Of nuclear weapons, he said: “We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.”

The bomb that changed the world

Mr Obama had earlier flown into the nearby Iwakuni Marine Corp base nearby, after leaving the G7 summit.

Mr Obama told service personnel at the base: “This is an opportunity to honour the memory of all who were lost during World War Two.”

Mr Obama praised the US-Japan alliance as “one of the strongest in the world”, with his visit “a testament to how even the most painful divides can be bridged – how our two nations, former adversaries, cannot just become partners, but become the best of friends and the strongest of allies”.

The BBC’s John Sudworth, in Hiroshima, says that although Mr Obama made it clear there would be no apology for the attack, few would deny that this was a deeply symbolic gesture; the leader of the only country ever to have used an atomic weapon laying a wreath in a city that has come to symbolise the perils of our nuclear age.

Obama lays wreath, 27 MayImage copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Obama and Mr Abe both laid wreaths at the Peace Memorial Park
Barack Obama, 27 May, Iwakuni baseImage copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Obama praised US troops for their sacrifices, in his speech at the Iwakuni marine base

Many in the US believe the use of the nuclear bomb, though devastating, was right, because it forced Japan to surrender, bringing an end to World War Two.

The daughter of one survivor, who was visiting the memorial on Friday, said the suffering had “carried on over the generations”.

“That is what I want President Obama to know,” Han Jeong-soon, 58, told the Associated Press news agency. “I want him to understand our sufferings.”

Seiki Sato, whose father was orphaned by the bomb, told the New York Times: “We Japanese did terrible, terrible things all over Asia. That is true. And we Japanese should say we are sorry because we are so ashamed, and we have not apologised sincerely to all these Asian countries. But the dropping of the atomic bomb was completely evil.”

‘Just listen’ – Japan’s media on the visit

The Chugoku Shimbun urges Mr Obama to “hear the voices of Hiroshima”. “The people of Hiroshima will be watching the president closely, eyeing to what extent he is truly resolved to advance the abolition of nuclear arms,” it said.

The Asahi Shimbun carries an article saying Mr Obama’s “gestures will shape the visit”, with the “most powerful gesture” being to “just listen to the bomb victims’ memories of suffering and activism”.

The Japan Times says: “To truly pay homage to those whose lives were lost or irrevocably altered by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Obama’s visit must galvanise the international community to move without delay toward a world free of nuclear weapons. The fact that these weapons have not been used over the past 70 years does not guarantee a risk-free future for our children.”

Source: BBC Monitoring

Jimmy Carter visited Hiroshima in 1984, after the end of his presidency.

A US ambassador attended the annual commemoration for the first time in 2010.

Hiroshima – world’s first nuclear attack

  • The bomb was nicknamed “Little Boy” and was thought to have the explosive force of 20,000 tonnes of TNT
  • Paul Tibbets, a 30-year-old colonel from Illinois, led the mission to drop the atomic bomb on Japan
  • The Enola Gay, the plane which dropped the bomb, was named in tribute to Col Tibbets’ mother
  • The final target was decided less than an hour before the bomb was dropped. The good weather conditions over Hiroshima sealed the city’s fate
  • On detonation, the temperature at the burst-point of the bomb was several million degrees. Thousands of people on the ground were killed or injured instantly

The hours before the bomb was dropped

The ‘sanitised narrative’ of Hiroshima bombing

In pictures: The first atomic bomb

Source:  “Hiroshima memory must never fade, says Obama on historic visit”, BBC News, 27 May 2016

Obama to visit Hiroshima on Asia trip


Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima on Asia trip

  • 32 minutes ago
  • From the section Asia
The atomic bomb dome at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial ParkImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The atomic bomb dome. Some 140,000 are believed to have died in the attack on Hiroshima

Barack Obama is to visit Hiroshima this month – the first serving US president to travel to the Japanese city since it was hit by a US nuclear bomb in 1945.

The visit will be part of an Asian trip from 21-28 May that will also take in Vietnam.

The Hiroshima bombing on 6 August 1945 killed 140,000 people. Along with a second bombing on Nagasaki – it is credited with ending World War Two.

Jimmy Carter has visited Hiroshima, but after the end of his presidency.

A statement from Mr Obama’s press secretary read: “The President will make an historic visit to Hiroshima with Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe to highlight his continued commitment to pursuing peace and security in a world without nuclear weapons.”

Seventy years since Hiroshima

The ‘sanitised narrative’ of Hiroshima’s atomic bombing: The US view that the bombing was necessary to end the war ignores a terrible and enduring cost.

Japan revisionists deny WW2 sex slave atrocities: Examining the rise of revisionism and the fraught issue of comfort women.

The tram that survived the Hiroshima bomb

In pictures: The first atomic bomb

The White House ruled out any apology for the bombing.

The president’s communications adviser, Ben Rhodes, said on his Twitter page that the US would be “eternally proud of our civilian leaders and the men and women of our armed forces who served in World War II”.

He said that Mr Obama would “not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II. Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future”.

He said the visit would “offer an opportunity to honour the memory of all innocents who were lost during the war”.

Mr Rhodes added: “The President and his team will make this visit knowing that the open recognition of history is essential to understanding our shared past, the forces that shape the world we live in today, and the future that we seek for our children and grandchildren.”

Mr Obama will also take part in the G7 summit in Japan’s Ise-Shima peninsula and hold bilateral talks with Mr Abe.

Before that Mr Obama will meet Vietnam’s leadership and deliver a speech in the capital, Hanoi, on US-Vietnam relations.

The bomb that changed the world

HiroshimaImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption A mushroom cloud over Hiroshima following the explosion of an atomic bomb
  • The bomb was nicknamed “Little Boy” and was thought to have the explosive force of 20,000 tonnes of TNT
  • Colonel Paul Tibbets, a 30-year-old colonel from Illinois, led the mission to drop the atomic bomb on Japan
  • The Enola Gay, the plane which dropped the bomb, was named in tribute to Col Tibbets’ mother
  • The final target was decided less than an hour before the bomb was dropped. The good weather conditions over Hiroshima sealed the city’s fate
  • On detonation, the temperature at the burst-point of the bomb was several million degrees. Thousands of people on the ground were killed or injured instantly

Find out what happened in the hours before the bomb was dropped

Was it right to drop the bomb on Hiroshima?

Source:  “Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima on Asia trip”, BBC News, 10 May 2016


Fathers seek advice about visas for divorced dads and scholarships for dual-national kids

The Japan Times



Fathers seek advice about visas for divorced dads and scholarships for dual-national kids

by Louise George Kittaka

  • May 1, 2016


This week’s column deals with two inquiries from American fathers of bicultural children.

CJ is currently based in the United States, having returned to his home country to take care of an ailing parent after getting divorced from his Japanese wife. His two young children reside in Japan with their mother.

In recent years there has been a lot in the English-language media about international tug-of-love cases concerning bicultural children. However, CJ’s divorce was an amicable one, and his ex-wife supports his desire to come back to live in Japan and stay involved in their children’s lives.

While in theory this would seem beneficial for all involved, it reality it isn’t so easy for a foreign national to remain in Japan once they lose their spouse visa. CJ writes:

I know about the visa called the “family-related visa” and its stipulations. It specifically states that a foreign national who has been divorced and has minor children will be able to obtain an unrestricted visa, allowing the divorced parent to partake in any field of work he or she desires.

I applied for a work visa and was denied, so I am going to file again, only this time for a family-related visa. I simply want to help my ex-wife financially and show my kids that I really care. I want to know why this type of visa appears to be hush-hush. It would save the government money in the long run.

There are four categories of family-related visa:

1) Spouse or child of Japanese national: self-explanatory.

2) Permanent resident: If you are married to a Japanese national, you can apply for permanent residency after three years of marriage. (Single people usually have to have lived in Japan for 10 years to apply.) The obvious advantage of being a permanent resident is that you can stay in Japan even if you get divorced or your partner dies. However, there are certain requirements for eligibility, and being granted permanent residence right away is not a given.

3) Spouse or child of a permanent resident: again, self-explanatory.

4) Long-term resident: Includes refugees, descendants of Japanese nationals, those divorced from Japanese nationals and those caring for their Japanese children. It is this final category that relates to CJ.

Lifelines talked to staff in the visa sections at the Immigration Bureau and the Foreign Ministry. As CJ notes, the long-term resident option seems to be difficult to define. While both the people I spoke to admitted that a divorced foreign father like CJ could apply, neither one could provide specific parameters for the application. It very much seems to be “case by case” and is “a difficult procedure.”

Their advice to CJ was to find another reason to come to Japan first, such as getting a job and obtaining a working visa, and then apply for a long-term resident visa.

“The more documents he has to prove he can support himself in Japan and that the children need his support, the better his chances,” advised one person. “Documents would include proof of funds, proof he is the father of the children and proof that his former wife needs financial support.”

I asked until what age children would be considered dependents. “In principle up to 18, but it depends on the case” was the answer.

In a follow-up email, CJ shared the news that his application for long-term residency had unfortunately been turned down, but he hoped the information might be of use to someone in a similar situation.

Our next query comes from HM, the father of a teenage girl. Last year his daughter applied for a study-abroad scholarship aimed at Japanese high school graduates. The Japan-based organization behind the scholarship, the Grew-Bancroft Foundation, offers young Japanese the chance to study at liberal arts colleges in the United States. HM writes:

My daughter, who has Japanese nationality and a foreign family name, applied for this scholarship last autumn. However, only two business days after her application was received, a rejection letter was mailed out, and the ¥20,000 application fee was kept. Perhaps I’m just a protective parent, but are dual-national Japanese students eligible for the Grew-Bancroft scholarship? If so, has a dual national ever been awarded one?

“Protective parent” or not, those raising bicultural children in Japan will probably understand where HM is coming from. In some municipalities, having a non-Japanese parent disqualifies students from participating in English speech contests, irrespective of the fact that many such children have been wholly educated in the Japanese system and have never lived abroad. And the decision last year to crown Ariana Miyamoto, a biracial woman from Nagasaki, as Miss Universe Japan caused a backlash on social media, where some people questioned if a so-called hāfu could really be said to represent Japan.

In the case of the Grew-Bancroft Foundation’s scholarships, however, this concerned father can rest assured that having dual nationality and/or a foreign name has no bearing on the selection process.

“With regards to this issue, the only requirement for eligibility is Japanese nationality, as stipulated on the website,” says the foundation’s director. “We have had dual nationals among the previous winners.”

The director noted that the scholarships have been growing in popularity recently, with both numbers of applicants and scholarships awarded on the rise.

“Last year we saw a record 76 applications. Although we would very much like to award every applicant a scholarship, we must have some kind of screening criteria. Around one-third of the initial applications were selected to go on to the next stage, and from those we chose the final recipients.”

To date, around 130 Japanese students have benefited from the scholarships. In a joint Japan-U.S. statement released at the time of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Japan in April 2014, the Grew-Bancroft Foundation was recognized as “one of the nongovernmental programs indispensable for promoting people-to-people connections between the two countries.”

For more information on the scholarships and how to apply, visit the foundation’s home page (in English and Japanese) at www.grew-bancroft.or.jp/english/index.html#mission.

Kiwi Louise George Kittaka has been based in Japan since she was 20. In the ensuing years she has survived PTA duty for three kids in the Japanese education system and singing live on national TV for NHK’s “Nodo Jiman” show, among other things. Send your comments and questions to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

Source:  Fathers seek advice about visas for divorced dads and scholarships for dual-national kids”, The Japan Times, 1 May 2016