A memorial service was held Saturday for award-winning writer and peace activist Makoto Oda, who died of stomach cancer on July 30 at age 75.
Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe, novelist and playwright Hisashi Inoue, critic Shuichi Kato, and Takako Doi, a former leader of the Social Democratic Party, were among 800 people who gathered at the Aoyama Sogisho funeral hall in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.
Later, about 500 mourners marched to a nearby subway station carrying banners declaring, “We will take on your wishes for anti-war movements” and singing “We Shall Overcome,” a protest song popular in the 1960s.
At the memorial service, philosopher Shunsuke Tsurumi compared Oda’s influence on events to that of John Manjiro, who served as an important bridge between Japan and the United States as Japan opened its doors to the world toward the end of the Edo Period (1603-1867).
Oda formed the Beheiren, an anti-war citizens group, in 1965 with other activists, including Tsurumi, to protest the Vietnam War.