There was a big meeting for a campaign against gangs at Sun Plaza Seasons yesterday. After terribly boring, sleepy and empty orations by the ward mayor, the police chief, and other “great” people, Mr. Kanji Wada appeared on the speaking platform, when the mood changed.
He beamed and took a look-around in the room, where there were more than 500 participants. He looked like an ordinary Japanese old man with receding gray hair and glasses. But he is not. He is the vise-president of an association against gangs in Kobe and has succeeded in repelling a gang group from his area with his neighbors. He came to the meeting to make a speech yesterday. His story was really nice and impressing. I’m sure no one was sleeping while he was talking.
Mano and Higashi Shiri-ike, where he lives, is in Nagata in Kobe which is a quake-hit area of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. In January in 2006, another thing hit the recovered place. A gang group called Konishi-Ikka moved to their place. The atmosphere in the street changed after their arriving. Imagine many gangsters walking in the street.
But his area never gave up retrieving their place which used to be safe and pleasant to live. He and his neighbors have established a group for fighting against the gang group and won! The gang came to the place in January that year and went out of the place in November in the same year. Residents in town have succeeded in kicking the gang out!
Mr. Wada said, “Of course, we were scared, first. Everyone wore a cap and a mask to hide their faces when they walked in front of the building. Anyone is terrified when they are alone. But we unified and fought together, which got rid of our fear.
We patrolled around their building every night. Usually two of their men stayed in the building and they shined flashlights on us through the window. The patrol held by more than 30 people around eight or nine o’clock every night. The gang must have felt out of place. That was the purpose. We should declare that we don’t need gangs and they never fit in our place.”
His speech was impressing and made all the participants cheered. It’s difficult to fight alone. But we can tackle the same problem all one. I’d like to close by introducing a story written on the document for the meeting. The story was made for people in Mano and Higashi Shiri-Ike to remember their fights against the gang.
A story by a catfish in Mano-ike Pond: There has been clapping sounds by wooden sticks around the pond at every night for these 10 months. People in this area has worked hard and saved their homes and town. Residents’ power is really great once and now here. Those have gone. That’s great. I’m very happy. Have you ever heard this? There used to be an ancient tomb named Nembutsu-yama-kohun from 7 cho-me Karimo-dori to 6 cho-me Hamazoe-dori. It was so big as Goshiki-duka-kohun, the ancient tomb, in Tarumi that ancient people must have had a tough time to build it. So, you see that many people have lived here in Mano since 1600 years ago. I hope this place is safe and pleasant to live forever. I don’t worry about that because people love this place. They never complain about patrolling at night, cleaning the street, or helping with festivals. Many people got together and united with those wooden sticks….