Gathering for Prayers and Promises: memorial held for Ikeda Elementary and university project carried out for School Safety Day
An annual memorial ceremony called Gathering for Prayers and Promises was held in Ikeda Elementary on June 8, fifteen years after the mass stabbing incident that took place at the school, a school attached to OKU. The memorial was attended by about 1300 students, parents, and faculty members. A bell in the Tower of Prayers and Promises with the names of the 8 victims inscribed on it was rung at 10:12 AM, and all in attendance observed a moment of silence.
To prevent the incident from being forgotten, ensure its lessons are shared widely throughout society, and for the school to continue to play a leading role in solving Japan’s school safety challenges, June 8 was named School Safety Day. On this day, the entire school reflects on the Ikeda Elementary incident and renews its dedication to school safety.
This year, Masako Totsuka, the mother of victim Takahiro Totsuka (age 6 at the time) gave a presentation to parents before the ceremony. Ms. Totsuka talked about her state of mind from right after the attack to today, and said, “The support of many parents and teachers from the time of the incident have helped me to make it to today. I believe that Ikeda Elementary has made sure that it handed down the spirit of safety education based on the true awareness of value of life.” She then said, “I sincerely hope we can build a happy society where everyone can go to school safely and securely.”
During the ceremony, Principal Yasushi Sasaki reflected on Ms. Totsuka’s words, and remarked, “Faculty members and parents must recognize that they are the people who will keep this incident from being forgotten, and must join together to promote school safety.” To the sixth-graders in attendance, he said, “Please do not forget the eight names inscribed on this Tower of Prayers and Promises, and become a person who protects others.”
Next, three sixth-graders promised to pass on to younger students the respect for life and hopes for safety they learned through safety education.
After the ceremony, students of the school and their parents formed a long line to put flowers on the altar in the Tower of Prayers and Promises. Many students who left flowers were heard to say, “rest in peace”.
At OKU, a booklet Passing on the Ikeda Elementary Incident was distributed during 3rd period classes at Kashiwara Campus, and during 2nd period classes at the Second Faculty of Tennoji Campus on June 9. The 2800 or so students were given an overview of the Ikeda Elementary incident and lessons from the incident by their professors.