Hiroshima Day August 6th 2014

Hiroshima Day-6th August 2014

Kevin P Clements



Instead of commemorating Hiroshima day with my colleagues, students and friends at the Dunedin Peace Pole, I’m on a Singapore airlines flight flying from Christchurch to Singapore and then on to Istanbul for a Toda Meeting and the biennial conference of the International Peace Research Association.

At 11.15 am NZ time- 8.15 am Japan time (36,000 feet in the air) I kept a moment’s silence and thought of the thousands who lost their lives in that nuclear moment 69 years ago.


I thought of all the clocks and watches that were frozen, (or were they roasted?) permanently at that very same moment 69 years ago . I thought of all those who never caught their buses, never got to school, never came home, never finished their washing or other to do lists, never got to say goodbye, never got to say I love you , never managed one last kiss, never gave a final hug, never got to see their children or their grandchildren ever again.


I thought of all those who were vapourised, pulverised, carbonised, burned , turned into shadows on concrete walls. I wondered, from my great height, what it was like to be on the Enola Gay,69 years ago, so high so far away ? What was it like not to know what was happening on the ground, behind closed doors, outside, by the river, by the bus stop, in the park. What was it like to line the bomb sites up at the T junction in the Hiroshima river and let the bomb fall?


I don’t have any easy answers to any of these questions, so all I could do was keep my silence in solidarity with those on the ground, standing around the peace pole, those who I knew would be listening to Taiko drums, waiting for the time 69 years on when another silence would fall and they’d stand mute , numb and dumb in the face of it all.


I quietly said never again, from my high spot 36,000 feet up en route to another moment in another time zone wondering what the links are between here and there and Hiroshima and all.


It’s always a wrench leaving home, climbing above the green paddocks of mid Canterbury.

flying over snow covered mountains,


leaving the coastline of Westland, New Zealand behind.


Heading off across the ditch to the land of Oz and its never ending deserts, and salt licks and minerals and all…

flying over snow covered mountains,


leaving the coastline of Westland, New Zealand behind.


Heading off across the ditch to the land of Oz and its never ending deserts, and salt licks and minerals and all…


IMG_1838  IMG_1840  IMG_1842 IMG_1843 IMG_1844 IMG_1845        \

I’m trying to hold all these things together, Hiroshima, the Peace pole in Dunedin, flying in a 777 across Australia to Singapore and then on to Istanbul.

I’m also driving myself slightly crazy trying to figure out how to put photographs into text and then how to size and wrap text around them. I need someone from generation x to tell me how!

I’ve just been told by the flight attendant to pull down my blinds even though its only 4 30 pm. I don’t want to sleep just yet but others seem to be conking out all around me.

I’ve had a cup of tea, finished my plenary paper for IPRA, started on another for the Peacebuilding Commission.

While having lunch I also watched a funny French Movie called Quai d’Orsay, a wonderful romp through the life of a Foreign Minister’s speech writer. It should be compulsory viewing for all IR and peace studies students .

Anyway, it’s a funny sort of a day. I’m   flying, thinking, reflecting, writing, reading , imagining, thinking about time and space from the fragility of a 777, 36,000 feet above Australia en route to Indonesia and then Singapore.

In pondering Hiroshima I have been wondering why the Japanese Government is in such a rush to move from its abnormal status as a Pacifist nation to becoming a fully militarised, securitised “normal” state.

I’m in favour of “abnormal” pacifist inclined states becoming the norm rather than the few we have moving from their positive abnormality to negative normality! Japan, under this administration has negated a lot of its former moral authority to speak out on nuclear questions. In addition to subverting Japanese peace credentials  it is somewhat perversely, re-energizing the Japanese Military Industrial complex. Mitsubishi is returning to its pre-Second World War form and negotiating new R and D defense arrangements with General Electric in the US. The Japanese Government has given five maritime patrol boats to Vietnam and has signed a deal to equip the new Australian submarine fleet with sophisticated electronics. The Abe administration is looking around for other ways in which it can   expand its security presence with allies and others in the Asia Pacific region. I don’t find any of this very reassuring or positive.

On the contrary it distresses me as I think about Hiroshima to reflect on why this current Japanese administration is so keen to forget the past and why its equally keen to return to a higher profile for its military.

I guess one way of linking Dunedin to here to Hiroshima is through Hone Tuwhare’s poem “No Ordinary Sun”. Hone was a Dunedin artist and poet who wrote this poem for another Hiroshima day….


No Ordinary Sun

Hone Tuwhare


Tree let your arms fall:

raise them not sharply in supplication

to the bright enhaloed cloud.

Let your arms lack toughness and resilience

for this is no mere axe

to blunt, nor fire to smother.


Your sap shall not rise again

to the moon’s pull.

No more incline a deferential head

to the wind’s talk, or stir

to the tickle of coursing rain.


Your former shagginess shall not be

wreathed with the delightful flight

of birds nor shield

nor cool the ardour of unheeding

lovers from the monstrous sun.


Tree let your naked arms fall

nor extend vain entreaties to the radiant ball.

This is no gallant monsoon’s flash,

no dashing trade wind’s blast.

The fading green of your magic

emanations shall not make pure again

these polluted skies . . . for this is no ordinary sun.


O tree

in the shadowless mountains

the white plains and

the drab sea floor

your end at last is written.



About kevinclements2012

Short CV Professor Kevin P Clements. I am the Foundation Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, Dunedin New Zealand and Secretary General of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy. Prior to taking up these positions I was the Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia . I went to Queensland from International Alert where I was Secretary General from January 1999 to September 2003. International Alert is one of the world’s largest NGOs working on conflict transformation. It pioneered innovative policy and practical approaches to conflict prevention and transformation in Africa ,Eurasia and Asia . It has also made a major contribution to the mainstreaming of conflict prevention within European Foreign and Development Ministries, the EU and a variety of UN institutions. During his time there I was on the Board of the European Centre for Conflict Prevention and past President of the European Peace Building Liaison Office in Brussels. Prior to becoming Secretary General of International Alert I was the Vernon and Minnie Lynch Chair of Conflict Resolution at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University Fairfax Virginia USA 1994-2000 and Director of the Institute from 1994-1999. My career has been a combination of academic analysis and practice in the areas of peacebuilding and conflict transformation. I was, for example, formerly Director of the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva and Head of the Peace Research Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra .Prior to this I was Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Coordinator of Peace Studies at Canterbury University, Christchurch New Zealand . My first academic position was as a lecturer in Sociology at Hong Kong University . I took up this position from a Post Doctoral Fellowship at Oxford University where I worked on development issues with Paul Streeten and others. I have been an advisor to the New Zealand, Australian , British , Swedish and Dutch governments on conflict prevention , peace, defence and security issues and advised the German Government and the OECD on States and Violence. I was, a member of the New Zealand Government’s Defence Committee of Enquiry in 1985 and I currently conducting Problem Solving Workshops in North East Asia with high level participants from Japan, China and Korea. Iwas President of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) from 1994-1998, President of the IPRA Foundation from 1995-2000 and Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Peace Research Association. I was Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association 2008-2010. I got my B.A, B.A Hon ( First Class) and Ph.D in Sociology from Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand. and held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Oxford from 1970-1971. I have been a regular consultant to a variety of non governmental and intergovernmental organisations on disarmament, arms control, conflict resolution, development and regional security issues and I have written or edited 7 books and over 160 chapters /articles on conflict transformation, peacebuilding, preventive diplomacy and development with a specific focus on the Asia Pacific region. Research Expertise 1. Peace Research Theory- Conflict and Conflict Resolution Theory . Preventive Diplomacy , Development and Peacebuilding 2. International and Regional Regimes-APEC, ASEAN, the ARF, ECOWAS 3. Political Sociology-International Organisations. Multilateral/bilateral negotiating processes. 4. Fragile States, Legitimacy and Political Hybridity 5. Alternative Defence and Security Policies-Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific region. 6. The politics and ethics of international humanitarian intervention 7. Altruism and Compassion In my spare time I like to paint with acrylics or pastels, go to the theatre, listen to classical music, visit art galleries etc!
This entry was posted in Arms Trade, Australia, China, Hiroshima, Japan, Japanese Peace Constitution, Militarisation, North East Asian Security. Bookmark the permalink.

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