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Shunryu Suzuki in an anti nuclear march in Yaizu
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Shunryu Suzuki and others on Peace & War

3-01-08 - Peace march, anti-nuclear weapons march, held in Yaizu, Japan, where Shunryu Suzuki's temple is. As this article points out, Yaizu was the port for the ill-fated Fukuryu (Lucky Dragon) which got caught in heavy fallout from the largest US hydrogen bomb test at the Bikini atoll. I remember a disturbing article about it in the Reader's Digest when I was a kid. Shunryu Suzuki joined in on a protest march afterwards. Read an excerpt about this from Crooked Cucumber.

from page 147 of Crooked Cucumber in Ch. 8

In March of 1954, a fishing boat from Yaizu returned with a crew of critically ill fishermen who had been contaminated with a heavy dose of radioactive fallout from an American hydrogen bomb test on the Bikini atoll, and one of the men had died. Before the crew realized what the problem was, their fish had entered the marketplace. Tons and tons of fish had to be discarded. A general panic seized Japan, and rumors spread that all ocean life had been contaminated. Anti-American rhetoric ran high—this was seen as the third atomic bomb, even worse in a way than the first two, because they had been at war then. The Americans were not apologizing or admitting any wrongdoing. At that time Shunryu became involved in some meetings with Americans and locals. His voice was small, but when he had the chance to talk he encouraged people to calm down. He tried to counter the hysteria and self-righteousness he saw erupting everywhere. To him most of the rhetoric was just a confused political game.


     Some saw him as always taking the American side, but when a march was called to protest American nuclear testing, he decided to go. People around the temple told him not to, warning that he would be discredited by being associated with communists. The Japanese Communist Party, a relatively tame organization with members in the Diet, made a big issue of the Bikini incident. Shunryu said he was happy to walk with anyone who opposed nuclear weapons; it didn't have anything to do with political beliefs. It was just a chance to make a small statement for peace. He wasn't an outspoken leader but walked unobtrusively with others, doing what he thought was right.

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