The Saturday papers had a piece about the forgotten destruction of Tokyo. Atom bombs dropped on two other cities led to the Japanese capitulation on 15 August 1945. But several months before that 60% of Tokyo had been destroyed by conventional bombing.
The article includes survivors' accounts of the fire storm that raced through neighbourhoods of traditional Japanese wooden houses. Of people escaping from the flames by jumping into the rivers, only to freeze to death. Of people gathering in groups in the street so that they would not die alone.
One of the survivors crept out from under one of these piles of burnt people on the morning after.
There is bitterness on many counts. The suffering of the survivors has never been recognised or compensated by the government. Whereas those who suffered from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been cared for and compensated.
The bombing of Tokyo is hardly known or remembered, although it is estimated that 100,000 people died on the night of the bombing.
There is bitterness about the misleading propaganda the Japanese government used to fool the people.
The postwar constitution, imposed by the Allies, commits Japan to pacifist neutrality. Japan has no military forces but a self-defence force. This force was trained by the American General Curtis LeMay. For which effort he received a high honour from Emperor Hirohito. The same General LeMay had in 1945 ordered the bombing of Tokyo.
I stood, contemplating the peace. A baby boomer contemplating six decades of peace. My father, in his nineties, sits most of the day doting in his armchair. His most lively conversations are about his experiences in the war, Dunkirk, North Africa, Italy.
In my early decades I enjoyed Clement Atlee's National Health Service and free education. In my later decades I have enjoyed the open frontiers within the European Union.
So I stood at my front door considering the pretty red bricks that pave the street, the horrors of war and the profligacy of peace. And took my bike to the supermarket, passing the monument to the allied soldiers who died liberating this area from Nazi occupation.
Joan Veldkamp in "de Volkskrant" Saturday 16 August 2008