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MUSINGS / June 7, 2017

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s June 7 issue.

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Tanka poet Utsubo Kubota (1877-1967) wandered about the streets of Tokyo, which had been reduced to piles of rubble. This was in September 1923, right after the Great Kanto Earthquake.

It seems he came across a victim of the disaster, who had just lost a daughter. Kubota composed a painful poem: “The parent in the disaster’s wake / still hears the voice of the daughter / trapped beneath a fallen beam / crying for help / from amidst the flames.” No parent will ever forget the last words and the voice of their child. In any disaster or accident, that is inescapable.

I read an article about Katsuki Kasai, a 21-year-old company employee from the town of Shimosuwa, Nagano Prefecture. He is one of the four victims who died in a small plane crash in the Northern Alps in the town of Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture, on June 3.

Katsuki called home. He told his 55-year-old father Hitoshi that the plane had crashed, that he had contacted the police and that he was trapped in the wreckage and unable to move. “Dad, I promise you, I’m coming back,” he said. These were his last words as the phone line was abruptly cut off. Here is another parent who will keep hearing their child’s voice.

“Like a pheasant in a burning field,” they say. Legend has it that the pheasant whose nest is in the middle of a burning field will risk life and limb to rescue its offspring. Give me the wings to fly over to where my boy is, the father must have prayed to heaven, as he grasped the phone, which was no longer speaking to him.Speech

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