by Howard Campbell
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Growing up in Tokyo, Japan during the 1960’s and 1970’s, there was little said in Yumi Gabe’s home of the devastating bombings that destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 9, 1945.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the Atomic bomb that destroyed Nagasaki. It came three days after a similar attack demolished Hiroshima; historians estimate as many as 226,000 people were killed by the bombings which was planned by the Allied forces led by the United States.
Japan fought in World War 11 as part of the Axis Powers which also included Germany and Italy. Their bombing of the American military base of Pearl Harbor in November 7, 1941 prompted the US to enter the conflict which started two years earlier.
“My family rarely talk about bombings but when they do, they talk about how food was scarce. So they always tell us as children to give thanks for what we get,” recalled Yumi, 55.
Known in Jamaica as DJ Yumi, she has lived in the capital Kingston for almost 30 years. She has established herself as a formidable sound system selector, winning several clashes.
As a child, her family ensured Yumi identified with the resurgent and successful Japan of the 1960’s and 1970’s. By the 1980’s, Japan was an industrial powerhouse, producing most of the world’s cars and technology.
Yumi’s maternal grandmother is from Hiroshima but she has never visited that city, neither Nagasaki. None of her relatives died fighting in World War 11, but widespread starvation in Japan, caused by fighting in the Pacific Theater, claimed the lives of two of her aunts.
Six days after the Nagasaki attack, Japan surrendered to the US.
Yumi Gabe has never been to monuments erected by the Japanese government to remember the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “I too scared,” she said, but visits her family in Tokyo every chance she gets.
Her daughter, Angelee, is half-Jamaican and lives in Tokyo. She recently gave birth to Yumi’s first grandchild.
Yumi plans to visit Japan as soon as restrictions on travel to her homeland posed by COVID-19, are lifted.