Flag returned as sign of peace
A JAPANESE flag from World War II has been tucked away in a drawer for 30 years and is to become a signal of peace and reconciliation next weekend.
After a year of contemplation, Kerry Reynolds from Goonellabah has finally decided to part with her deceased father’s war memento and will give the flag to the Japanese Buddhist priest, Reverend Shigenobu Watanabe as part of an Anzac Day service.
The flag was brought back from Japan by Ms Reynolds’s Navy enlisted father, Eric William Reynolds and has been defaced with the signatures of his fellow sailors.
It was a difficult decision for Ms Reynolds to make but she feels content with the thought the gesture will represent reconciliation.
“I was 18-years-old when I asked my father if I could have it because there was something that I found very fascinating about it,” the 55-year-old said.
“It has taken me a year to make this decision as I don’t have many of my father’s possessions and by keeping it I have a connection to him.
“But I want to keep it somewhere where it will have a place and now I know it will when it goes to a war memorial in Japan.
“I think my father would be very happy to know what the flag is going to be used for.”
The momentous flag has been signed by men who served alongside Mr Reynolds in the war and has the names of the ships they were on and the ports they were stationed at.
Despite the friendly nature of the signatures, Ms Reynolds fears the defacing of the flag maybe seen as insulting to some Japanese.
“I was worried Japanese people might think its insulting that the men wrote on the flag but it is not meant to be an insult,” she said.
Ms Reynolds initially read a story about how Remembering and Healing Old Wounds (RaHOW) had helped a man return a piece of war memorabilia to Japan last year.
The Lismore based RaHOW group was formed last year by three Northern Rivers women to promote peace through non-violent means.
The group returned a tattered Japanese flag and a Japanese samurai sword last year to Reverend Watanabe in a ceremony similar to the one organised for Ms Reynolds’ flag.
Coincidentally, RaHOW member and yoga teacher Sabina Baltuweit met Ms Reynolds through a yoga class and since has helped with the exchanging of the flag.
“It is a strong symbolic gesture and shows there are ways of solving our problems through non-violent means,” Mrs Baltuweit said.
The Japanese flag will be presented to Reverend Shigenobu Watanabe on Saturday 24th April at 5pm at the Lismore Uniting Church and the event is open to the public.