Message from 101 Year Old Man-Heart Connecting Seminar
At the annual ‘peace seminar’ held at the Naha City Aja Welfare Complex in Okinawa on June 17 this year, the children truly heard a voice from a different era, as an elderly resident, Mr. Fukuhara, now aged 101, recounted his experiences of World War II.
At the event, which aims to show children the evils of war and the preciousness of peace, Mr. Fukuhara, who attends the centre twice a week, told the young audience about his wartime experiences. “. ‘I was in my 30’s when the Battle of Okinawa took place and was working as an aircraft maintenance technician. After the attack, there were a lot of dead citizens and soldiers lying in the road,” he recollected. “Having seen so many people dead is like a scar in me which will never heal.”
His conclusion is that, “in war it is always the ordinary people who suffer. War is so miserable,” he said as his audience of 106 children listened attentively.
The Aja Welfare Complex is a multi-purpose facility, comprising a nursing home for the elderly, a day care center, and a children’s center. The seminar, at which the elderly share their wartime experiences with the children is held every year around 23 June, the day the Pacific War in Okinawa has ended.
At the end of the event, the children and the elderly sang a traditional prayer song for peace.
One child in the audience said: ‘The war is really scary.’ ‘I realized the importance of peace.’ Their impression shows that they understood the elderly’s heart.
Mr. Fukuhara said he wanted to continue telling the stories as much as possible to show the preciousness of the peace.
The facility plans to host various kinds of events to bridge the gaps between generations.