Toshiko Tsuhako, from Okinowa, was 12 years old when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by nuclear attacks. The memory of the war continues to impel her to build peace in the world.
“On August 22, 1944, I lost my only sister in the Tsushima maru naval disater.” The passenger ship was sunk by an American submarine. More than 1,400 civilians lost their lives, including 700 children. “Up until the day of her death at the age of 96, my mother continued to say: “The war ate her on me. . .” Mrs Toshiko Tsuhako spoke from the bottom of her heart as she recounted her story to us. Her city, on Okinowa Island, had been the theatre of the only land battle in Japan through the months of April, May and June 1945, leaving 150,000 dead.
“I was just an innocent child when I found myself thrown into the tragic experience of war, in contact with painful wounds that it inflicts on the bodies and the spirits of people. The war ended when I was 12 years old. My mother had a fragile constitution and, since I was the only daughter now, I devoted all my strength to trying to support and alleviate her afflictions. At the age of 16 I met the Christian faith and received the grace of Baptism.”
As an adult she came into contact with the Focolare spirituality: “I was quite surprised when I heard that the foundress, Chiara Lubich, had come to understand, in the midst of the Second World War, that God loves us immensely and that we are all brothers and sisters who aspire to a united world, because this coincided exactly with the great dream that I carried inside me from when I was a young teenager.”
“Although I was aware that everything that happens is in God’s hands, countless times I would wonder: ‘Why are there still such cruel and painful wars?’ while I continued on dreaming of a ‘global Family’ where the people live mutual gratitude and communion.”
“I think that God is need of our collaboration in building a truly peaceful world. It is true that we should cultivate hearts that love their own lands, but more than anything we should cultivate sensitive souls that devote themselves to the good of others, souls that know how to love.”
“On this anniversary of the termination of the war,” Toshiko testifies, “I renew my trust in God and my commitment to continue along the path of peacebuilding.”