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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 August 19 - 25  > Small stone statue in Kyoto temple symbolizes memory of war orphans
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2015 August 19 - 25 [PEACE]

Small stone statue in Kyoto temple symbolizes memory of war orphans

August 23, 2015
Akahata Sunday edition

This summer, at a Buddhist temple in Kyoto City a ceremony took place to unveil a small stone statue commemorating deceased war orphans. The 90-centimeter-tall stone image of the guardian deity of children conveys the message that there should be no more war orphans.

Around ten years ago, a wooden box containing old human remains was discovered at the temple, Daizenin. They were found to be the cremated remains of children who had died of malnutrition and other causes after losing their parents in World War II. Following this finding, a high school teacher who studies the history of war orphans and the Daizenin’s chief priest launched a project to put up a small statue in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the war’s end in order to pass down the memory of the young war victims to future generations.

The title of the statue is carved in its pedestal using the handwriting style of one of the orphans, Okude Hiroshi. Okude said that while writing the letters, he prayed that those children who had died miserable deaths may rest in peace.

Okude was six-year-old when the war ended. Having lost his parents in U.S. air raids, he spent three months at the Kyoto Station which escaped destruction in the war. At that time, nearly 5,000 war orphans were said to have taken refuge in the station from nearby war-devastated cities and some called them “station kids”. Okude had to beg for food. He sometimes washed sweet potatoes in the station’s rest room and ate them raw. “I don’t want to starve to death,” was all he could think about.

Okude has grave concern about the war bills currently under Diet deliberation. He said, “Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has no war experience and seems to not understand how awful war is. If a war breaks out, many children will be orphaned.”
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