Five years after World War II ended on 15 August 1945, two men of courage—Shinzo Hamai and Hiroshi Ohashi, mayors of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — visited Initiatives of Change’s gathering place in Caux, Switzerland. In remembrance of the occasion, ABC News reached out to Australian journalist Chris Mayor, who accompanied the men during their time in Caux, and was one of the first in the Western world to interview the pair.
Chris, now aged 92 and living in Bendigo, Victoria (Australia), recalls the courage of the men in leaving Japan to face an international community that may have criticised them for Japan’s actions during the war. Yet, he affirms, they came with a message of peace.
‘It was 5 years after the end of the war, after the bomb, and now, as we look back, we don’t realise how sore the wounds in the world were,’ Chris told ABC News. ‘Thousands killed in an instant. It wasn’t like the Blitz which went on week after week and people being killed, it was 30 seconds. It’s hard to believe how so many people can be eliminated in a flash. It really was a flash…
‘Japan was defeated, humiliated. They were quite courageous coming out of Japan and meeting the world again. I think it took courage, because they would have expected, I would think, that they were going to be criticised and attacked. They weren’t…These two mayors dedicated themselves to make Hiroshima and Nagasaki centres of peace for the future. They were absolutely determined that the reputation of those two cities would be changed in that way.’
His interview with them ran across two pages of New World News in 1950, an IofC publication. In Chris’ story, the two Japanese mayors expressed their deep commitment to making Hiroshima and Nagasaki centres for peace, and their conviction that the moral standards of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love would ultimately triumph in the war of ideas.
You can read the full article on Chris’ reflection on IofC Australia’s website, where there are images from the time in Caux as well as excerpts from the original groundbreaking interview. You can also learn more about IofC/MRA’s role in shaping history on the Our History page!