Recitation play on internment of Japanese-Americans to be staged in Hiroshima in August

by Kyoko Niiyama, Staff Writer

“Breaking the Silence,” a recitation play in English based on the memoirs of Japanese-Americans who lived in internment camps in the United States during World War II, will be performed at three theaters in Hiroshima from August 1 to 3. The World Friendship Center, an NPO located in Nishi Ward and the organizer of the event, released this information at a press conference held at Hiroshima City Hall on June 27.

The number of Japanese-Americans who were made to live in internment camps during World War II is believed to be as many as 120,000. The recitation play, comprised of a dozen first-person memoirs, begins with reflections from the first-generation immigrants who crossed the ocean with high hopes during the Meiji period (1868-1912). During the time of internment, which started in 1942, these accounts give way to anger and words of resolve to never bow down to oppression. After the war, the memoirs trace the civil rights movement and urge an end to racial discrimination.

The play was first performed in 1985. Nikki Nojima Louis, 75, a second-generation Japanese-American, wrote the script in support of Americans of Japanese ancestry who had filed a lawsuit demanding redress and an apology from the U.S. government at that time.

Eight Japanese-Americans will read the memoirs as Japanese subtitles are projected onto a screen. Harvard Tsuchiya, 80, one of the performers, called for the play to be staged in Hiroshima. Mr. Tsuchiya’s parents left Hiroshima for the United States in a wave of immigration from Hiroshima Prefecture, which, before World War II, sent the largest number of immigrants to countries overseas. At the press conference, JoAnn Sims, 72, the co-director of the World Friendship Center, said that she would like to make the performances an opportunity to feel the preciousness of life and pray for peace together.

The performances will be held on August 1 at 3 p.m. at Hiroshima Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School; at 7 p.m. on the same day at Hiroshima Jogakuin University; on August 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Hiroshima Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School; and on August 3 at 2:30 p.m. at Hiroshima International House. Admission is 1,000 yen. For more information, contact the World Friendship Center at 082-503-3191.

(Originally published on June 28, 2013)