At The Time (for Kimiko Nezu)
A Poem by Munehiko Ichino©Munehiko Ichino 2007
Translated by Tetsuro Tanaka
At that time, you will remember her.
When you can't restrain your anger in the face of so much injustice by a power.
When you feel burnt by humiliation, from a power that grabs the bottom of your
heart with it's bare hands,
On a morning when you were forced to stand on the edge of despair,
and were scared by the surrounding cold eyes.
On a night you gradually realize that ignoring an injustice to curry favor is insulting to you.
5 years later.
10 years later.
Or 20 years after.
At that time, you will remember a person you met long long ago.
They fall in like mountains on her.
But she's never frightened.
And she says "I'm a teacher.
I will never help destroy education even if they admonish me all they can"
You will remember a person standing in front of the gate
Facing the strongest power with a tender smile.
Like a small swell of wave born in a far off sea.
It gradually becomes a wave that beats against the shore
Like a wind born high above a far off mountain.
It blows across valleys and moves your hair some day.
Just like one small nameless wave .
Just like one small nameless wind .
Her wish may reach your heart some day.
Teacher, Kimiko Nedu
Her name will live again in your heart.
30 years later.
Or 40 years later.
That time will surely come.
Many thanks to Munehiko Ichino and Tetsuro Tanaka for permission to add this poem to the Union Songs collection.
Kimiko Nezu has been targeted by the Tokyo School Board for refusing to carry out their 2003 dictat to teachers that they must stand for the flag and sing the national anthem. Japan's parliament designated the World War II hymn "Kimigayo" as the national anthem in 1999. Nezu opposes the song because it was the same one sung as the Imperial Army set forth from Japan calling for an "eternal reign of the emperor". The punishments devised by the Tokyo School Board include frequent transfers of teachers to distant schools along with salary cuts and suspensions. "I feel as if freedom to question authority is being quashed just as it was during the war years, but I will never stand for that song, the same one that played when we were invading Asia. Never."
see also Washington Post and Japan Times Online
and visit Japanese teachers support blog at http://stopdismissal.blogspot.com/
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union songs..........a selection by mark gregory