Three new paper cranes will soon be added to the Sadako Crane Exhibit in the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The exhibit recently welcomed the cranes, which were folded by Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, his wife Akie and a former navy man named Tajiri, who was a member of the squadron that attacked Pearl Harbor.
The visitor center features the story of Sadako Sasaki and a crane she folded before she died. Information about America’s postwar efforts in Japan is included in the exhibit panels.
Sadako’s nephew, Yuji Sasaki, presented 1,000 paper cranes, plus the three additional cranes, to National Park Service Superintendent Jacqueline Ashwell in an informal ceremony on Jan. 7. The ceremony was presided over Bishop Eric Matsumoto of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii and was attended by first lady of Hawai‘i Dawn Amano-Ige.
Sadako Sasaki was 12 years old when she died of leukemia, which she developed following the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The bombing ended World War II in the Pacific, but at a costly human price. Sadako’s story and her memory have come to symbolize peace and a plea to end nuclear aggression.
Yuji Sasaki said he was moved by then-President Barack Obama’s gesture of folding four paper cranes during his visit to Hiroshima in May 2016 and wanted to return the gesture. He made a public appeal to individuals and organizations in Japan, asking them to fold paper cranes. Among those who responded was Akie Abe, wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who asked that her crane be included. The prime minister folded a crane, as well. The couple also signed their cranes.
According to Sasaki, Prime Minister Abe was moved that President Obama had folded a crane during his visit to Hiroshima and wanted to do likewise.
Superintendent Ashwell said the cranes will be displayed once an exhibit space is built. In an email to the Associated Press, Ashwell said, “The National Park Service is deeply honored to receive these cranes. They are a lasting tribute to Sadako Sasaki’s message of peace and her enduring legacy, and we are honored to share them with the world.”