Veteran, 95, takes bus to join anti-racism rally



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It was one of the most exciting moments of the anti-racism protest at Aotea Square in Auckland on Sunday.

John Sato (C) 95, one of only two Japanese soldiers in New Zealand's Army in World War II, took several Howick buses to participate in the anti-racism march at Aotea Square.

John Sato (C) 95, one of only two Japanese soldiers in New Zealand's Army in World War II, took several Howick buses to participate in the anti-racism march at Aotea Square.
Photograph: 2019 Getty Images

An elderly man was supported by police and a helper to show his support for the Muslim community and its opposition to racism.

He is John Sato, 95, from Auckland, and took four buses to take part in the march.

Mr. Sato said he was a bit out of touch with the modern world.

Most of the time, he would go around the neighborhood, do some household chores, and listen to his favorite classical music and opera on the radio.

However, after hearing the news about the mass shooting in Christchurch, he could not sleep.

"I've been very awake at night, I have not slept very well since then, I found it very sad, you can feel the suffering of other people," Sato said.

Mr. Sato identifies himself as Eurasian. His mother is Scottish and his Japanese father.

John Sato was backed by police and a sidekick to show his support for the Muslim community.

John Sato was backed by police and a sidekick to show his support for the Muslim community.
Photograph: Photo / Liu Chen / RNZ

His wife passed away 15 years ago and his only daughter, who was born blind but talented in yoga, also passed away last year.

Sato said that difficulties are a part of life, and it is important that people take care of each other, regardless of their cultural background and ethnicity.

"I think it's a tragedy, and yet it has the other side, it has united people, no matter what race or anything, people suddenly realized that we are all one.

Mr. Sato heard about vigils and memorials around the country after the tragic shootings in Christchurch, so he wanted to check out a mosque in Pakuranga that was not far from his home. It was the beginning of a long journey for him.

John Sato and his military colleagues during World War II.

John Sato and his military colleagues during World War II.
Photograph: RNZ / SUPPLIED

He left Howick at around 10 a.m., took a bus to Pakuranga, where he saw many flowers and messages. So he decided to go downtown.

After two more transfers, he arrived.

Taking a bus was easier than walking, at least, what can save you from shoes, he said with a smile.

The people were very kind to give him a hand when they saw him. A police officer even gave him a bottle of water and took him home.

"Police officer drove me all the way home, waited there until he saw me coming up the stairs." The tragedy in Christchurch, see what it has brought to the people.

Mr. Sato was young when he was recruited to New Zealand's army during World War II to fight against Japan. He was one of only two Kiwi-Japanese in the army, he said.

He said the war claimed innocent lives and was a waste of time. Life, he said, was too short to be wasted on meaningless things, such as hatred.

The Christchurch incident was more than just a tragedy to us, said Sato.

"We all pass through our furnace in certain ways and some of the things that happen to us will make you more understanding, I hope."

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