Hiroshima girl's 'peace' crane donated to Pearl Harbour exhibit

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 3:50am


A tiny paper crane folded by a 12-year-old girl who died of leukaemia after the US dropped an atom bomb on her hometown of Hiroshima will go on display in Pearl Harbour, where the 1941 Japanese attack launched the two nations into war.

Sadako Sasaki's family donated the origami crane to promote peace and overcome the tragedies of the past.

"We have both been wounded and have suffered painfully. We don't want the children of the future to go through the same experience," said Yuji Sasaki, the girl's nephew, by telephone from Hiroshima.

From today, the crane will be part of an exhibit at the visitors' centre at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, near the USS Arizona battleship that sank during the December 7 bombing.

The tiny crane about the size of the nail on a little finger - will occupy a small corner of one of two exhibit halls at the centre, which is operated by the National Park Service.

Sadako Sasaki folded between 1,000 and 2,000 of the cranes while battling leukaemia in 1955 - her family never counted exactly how many - after hearing an old Japanese story that those who fold a thousand cranes are granted one wish. The girl's wish was to get better, but she died less than three months after she started the project.

Her story has since become well-known around the world, and origami cranes have become a symbol of peace.

The family has also given one crane to the Tribute WTC Visitor Centre, next to Ground Zero in New York, and to the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Yuji Sasaki said his family wanted one crane to go to Pearl Harbour because he feels there is still a gulf between some Americans and Japanese when it comes to understanding how the war between their two countries began and how it ended.

For example, he said, when people from Hiroshima and Nagasaki say, "No more Hiroshima, no more Nagasaki", to protest against the use of nuclear weapons, he said he hears Americans reply with the phrase, "Remember Pearl Harbour".

The first time he witnessed an exchange like this in person, he said he thought: "'I'm not going to get people to talk about the future this way."'

He hopes the crane will create opportunities for the survivors of the atom bombs and Pearl Harbour to interact and think about each other's perspectives.