Mike Hassett - Osaka, Japan - May 17, 2013

(Note: some of us that remember those WWII days, some info here of workers, more than we were aware of)


Once more, this is coming from Japan and it will have our last convention speakers' list. Plans are to fly on to Korea on Monday. We are at Osaka now and all the Japanese workers are here as well as six visitors, for a total of 38 I believe. This morning there was a workers' meeting and the new list was handed out. It brought the same kind of excitement it does everywhere else.

Since last I wrote, we had convention near Hiroshima, the city made famous for being hit with the first atomic bomb ever dropped in war. It was interesting to know why that city was chosen. It was a major military city with huge bases and armament factories. The bomb hit right on target. The Allies had bombarded the city with leaflets telling the people to leave, but the military convinced them not to go. The death toll would have been drastically reduced if they had left. There is a park and 'museum' to tell about the effects of the bomb and how devastating it was. Unfortunately there is very little to tell of the terrible war the Japanese started that brought it on themselves. It reminded me of what we once heard:  "Time does not take care of unrepented sin." If we do not accept our errors and deal with them, we will never change.

I commented to one of my tour guides, that if I hadn't been to Pearl Harbour, Guam, Saipan, and the Philippines first, and seen and heard of the terrible things the Japanese did, perhaps I would feel a little different. One of the first workers to come here after the war ended, told us what his Japanese teacher had said..........."Dropping the bomb on Hiroshima was the greatest act of mercy in history." Japan was surrounded, being blown to bits by ordinary bombs with about 2,000 people dying every day, and still the military refused to surrender. They preferred to see every last Japanese dead rather than accept defeat. 

Another interesting thing I have learned here is how many workers were interned in Japanese prison camps during the war. I had often heard of the ones held in the Philippines but there were others. Some of them that I know of were:

Philippines:  Leo Stancliffe, Willie Jamieson, Ernest Stanley, Hermann Beaber and one other brother (believe this was Cecil Barrett, from Australia)

Indonesia:  William Boshoff and two other brothers

Hong Kong:  Jim Pasco and Tom Fowler

Singapore:  Alec Mitchell and Archie Wilson

 

Of all the workers in the Pacific area, it seems there was only one foreign sister. She was a Dutch lady working in Indonesia called Annie Polglase.  When the Japanese took the country, her papers 'went missing' and she was never picked up. She was able to move quietly among the friends during the war. A brother to Reg Stratford was the only worker that they know of who lost his life in the War of the Pacific. He was in Singapore and had the chance to get on a boat heading for Australia as the Japanese closed in.

Unfortunately, the boat was sunk and he went down with it.

 

The friends are gathering in here now. We are at a YMCA facility this week. The first to arrive are two couples. One is from the north of Japan and the other from Western Australia. I understand there will be eight or ten Albertans here by the weekend. The George Ramseys have arrived since I started this. One of the things that has impressed me is the effort the friends make to stay on the grounds even though they live just a couple of kilometers away. Last week, only one man that I know of left at night. The others, including two ladies in their 90s all stayed despite the fact we all had to sleep on the floor. It wasn't easy and there were not a lot of comforts but they wanted to be in the convention atmosphere. They loved that spirit more than they loved the comforts of home.

 

Life here is expensive. This week I got a good example of that. We had an hour and a half ride from Hiroshima to Kyoto on the bullet train. The price of each ticket....... About C$114.00 (that's Canadian dollars).

A couple of thoughts.. Parts of maturity are:

1.. Being able to see consequences before you make a choice.

2.. When you don't get upset just because no one notices you.

3.. When we want our public life and our private life to be the same.

4.. Being aware of the thoughts you think and where they will lead.

5.. When no one is intimidated by your spirit.