We have a new prime minister, and the extraordinary summer that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake is about to end. Despite Japan's political stagnation, fireworks displays and festivals were held this summer. People are looking ahead. Here are some memorable quotes from August, a month of remembrance and prayers.
Sixty-six years after World War II, the remains of many of Japan's war dead have not been returned home. Chuji Inoue, 77, of Hiroshima Prefecture whose father died on Iwojima has visited the island more than 30 times. "If the country sent soldiers to a battleground, it must return them. Until I bring back all of them, my war will not end," he said. The remains of as many as 1.13 million Japanese who died overseas are thought to have been left on battlefields across the world.
Noriko Iwasaki, 35, of Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, saw her family's taxi company washed away by the March 11 tsunami. Her father died after the earthquake. She has now gotten a license and become a taxi driver herself. "I am very happy that I can see the townsfolk again in my taxi," she said. "I don't want to drive through a ghost town forever but through building-lined streets."
Craftsmen who specialize in making traditional ornamental dolls to celebrate children's growth in Saitama are making "omokage-bina" (remembrance dolls) to commemorate people who were killed by the earthquake and tsunami. Jin Ito, 70, said: "The expressions (of the dolls) show the inner feelings of the craftsmen. (The dolls) are unique objects that exemplify that spirit." The craftsmen use inspiration to make the dolls reflect the likeness of the disaster victims.
While filming a documentary about the impact of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident, film director Tomoko Kana, 40, found out she was pregnant. "Every time I drink water and take a deep breath, I worry about the impact on my baby," she said. "I realized this is how the mothers I interviewed feel."
Mariko Fukuda wrote in a tanka poem published in the Asahi Kadan column of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun: "If it were temperature/ I could immediately feel it/ But I cannot physically feel millisieverts." Which way will the nuclear policy of the administration of Yoshihiko Noda face?
--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 31
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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