Japanese photographers exhibit work on war’s aftermath

A collection of sixty-two touching photos about the aftermath of the American war in Vietnam by two Japanese photographers, Nishimura Yoichi and Yasufumi Murayama, are on display in HCM City to mark the 62nd anniversary of Veterans’ Day on July 27 and the National Day for Vietnamese Dioxin Victims on August 10. 

Visitors studying some of the photos at the exhibition (Photo: PL)

Themed “Scars of the Vietnam War,” the exhibition, held at the War Remnants Museum, conveys the message “It’s hard to forget the war because of its tragic consequences.” 
 
With their love of Vietnam and its people, Nishimura Yoichi and Yasufumi Murayama have spent more than 24 years traveling throughout Vietnam to capture the real-life images of war victims who are trying their best to overcome the aftermath of war. 
 
The photographers have followed such people striving to change their fate, among them are A/O victims and their affected kids, disabled soldiers and wives of martyrs or ‘heroic mothers.’ 
 
Many Vietnamese people still have to bear the war’s aftermath with great sorrow although it ended over 30 years ago. Many of them are trying to overcome their misfortune, but their smiles cannot conceal their grief, said Murayama.
 
Visitors can see the tragic consequences of war in photos capturing vast areas of land that were ploughed by bombs and bullets, but they also show the country’s ongoing recovery via photos of Can Gio Ecological Zone and rubber forests in Tay Ninh. 
 
The primeval forests in Can Gio have been re-afforested and the rubber forests in Tay Ninh restored after all the mines cleared.

The rubber tree forests in Tay Ninh by Murayama in 2001.(photo PL)

The public will be highly moved by the photos of children affected by the Agent Orange dioxin. 
 
The message of the exhibition also reminds people throughout the world of the crimes of war and appeals to the community’s social responsibility for those who have sacrificed their youth, happiness and even lives for world peace. 
 
Murayama said, “The aim of the exhibition is to help visitors understand more about war crimes, as well as to court their sympathy toward Vietnamese war victims.”
 
“It is meaningful that the exhibition will last until August, which is an important month for all Japanese people, as it marks the end of World War II. In Vietnam, the National Day for Vietnamese Dioxin Victims also takes place in August,” he added. 

Nguyen Xuan Minh, born in 2001 in HCM City, suffers from crouzon syndrom. Photo taken by Yoichi.(photo PL)

 After the exhibition, the photos will be donated to the museum.

On the opening day of the exhibition, Nishimura Yoichi also presented a copy of the book “Agent Orange of Vietnam” to the museum. The book, written by Nishimura Yoichi, was published in Japan in April.
 
The exhibition is held at the War Remnants Museum, 28 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3, and will last until August 30. Entrance is VND15,000.
 
Unforgetable memorries of my son by Murayama in 2001. The photo of a woman in Cu Chi  whose son registered for the draft in 1961 and killed in 1974. Cu Chi was one of the fierciest battle site in the south.(photo PL)

Yasufumi Murayama was born in Hyogo, a prefecture located in the Kinki region on Honshu Island, in 1968. He studied at the Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto.

As a journalist, Murayama zealously takes part in various peace activities. He has coordinated with Kyoto Museum to organize several photo exhibitions on the Vietnam War.

He visited Vietnam for the first time in 1998, where he witnessed the tragic consequences of war on the people and the land.

He later traveled often to Vietnam to get in touch with war victims, taking photos of them for exhibitions so that “more and more people worldwide will have the opportunity to gain a deep insight into the aftermath of war and thus sympathize with and support Vietnamese people in overcoming the consequences of war.”

Nishimura Yoichi was born in 1942 in Osaka.

In 1945, his family moved to Awaji island. He spent his childhood on the island.
Between 1961 and 1974, Yoichi’s family settled down in Osaka and then Nagano, the capital city of Nagano Prefecture, located in the Chubu region of Honshu Island.

From 1974 to 2003, Yoichi was a teacher in a high school in Awaji Island. He retired in March 2003 and began to study the American war in Vietnam and Vietnamese A/O victims.

Between 2004 and 2007, Yoichi lived in Ho Chi Minh City and taught Japanese and math for A/O children at Tu Du Hospital’s Peace Village.

He also traveled throughout the country to meet and take photos of A/O victims.

In April 2009, he published the photo book “Agent Orange of Vietnam.”

In his letters dated July 19, 2009 to the War Remnants Museum, Yoichi said, “In reality, the present situation that Vietnamese A/O victims are living in is beyond our imagination. When getting permission to take these photos, I would like them to be publicized because I think my promises with the victims in the photos will only be fulfilled if every one of us views the collection.”

Yoichi now lives in Tokyo.

By Phuong Lan

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