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SpeecheMy Appeal to the World

Masashi Ieshima

Hiroshima Hibakusha (Survivor)

Vice Chairman

Tokyo Federation of A-bomb Sufferer’s Organizations (TOYUKAI)

 

I had just turned three years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.  I must have seen a lot of horrifying events, yet I have only fragmented memories since I was a toddler.  I remember watching a forest fire in the west towards Koi, which was burning red furiously.  At the moment of the bombing, I was inside the house in Ushita-machi where is the northern part of Hiroshima City.  The A-bomb survivor’s medical record book, which I have now, says that I was located 2.5 kilometers away from the blast center.  But this is an average distance between Ushita-machi and the blast center.  Nowadays the average distance is indicated at the record book.  However, according to the initial record book that was issued to me, I was just 1.8 kilometers from the ground zero.

 

In the morning of Aug. 6, my father returned home and was taking a nap after finishing his night shift as an air-raid guard.  He worked at the Hiroshima Communications Bureau, located just 1.2 kilometers from the blast center.  He would have lost his life if he had remained on duty.

 

Surprised by the intense flash, he jumped to his feet and rushed to the stairs of the second floor.  At that moment, he was blown down to the bottom of the stairs.  All windowpanes of the house were blown off, except for the diamond-cut glass of the cupboard in the kitchen.  The roof was torn off, and it seemed that at night we could see the moon from the room.

 

My mother was at a sunlit room near the entrance, and the broken pieces of glass stuck in her body.  Fortunately, there was a neighbor who was a nurse.  She treated her wounds.  My 10 month-old sister was usually sleeping facing a sunny window, but luckily, on that day she was sleeping behind a big bag of futon (Japanese-style bedding) with her back towards the window and was uninjured.  I was playing at the entrance and was miraculously safe.

 

By chance, a relative’s newly wedded couple had stayed at our house since last night, because the husband was scheduled to go into the military service.  That morning, they left for the West Training Ground.  My father soon went there to check on their safety.  He found all the soldiers were dead at the training ground.  As their bodies were charred, he could not identify him.  He gave up finding him and returned home.

 

On his way back home, my father found the young wife, who got severe burns and collapsed by the road.  He hurried to fetch a two-wheeled cart, which he borrowed from a nearby farmer.  After bringing her back, Father treated her burns with zinc oil, which he obtained from the nurse living next door.  I remember the deadly stinky odor of the maggot-infested burns.  I don’t remember, but I seemed to try to console her at her bedside, saying, “The enemy planes are bad lots.”

 

The young widow remarried later.  She had keloid scars which spread from her neck to the chest.  Perhaps because of them, she used to complain the heat of every summer.  She was grateful to our family for having saved her.  After marriage, she got a baby, but sadly the child was mentally deficient, and 20 years after the bombing, she died of thyroid cancer.  I believe that her cancer was caused by the A-bomb radiation.

 

I felt indignant to know by media reports that those who engaged in the Manhattan Project expected the enormous explosive power of the atomic bomb; however, they had no idea about the long-lasting damage and aftereffects to be caused by radiation, because that is unique and devilish nature of nuclear weapons.

 

At the end of that summer, when a rumor was going around in Hiroshima that vegetation would not grow for another 75 years, my family moved to Tottori Prefecture to live with my grandparents.  Father remained alone in Hiroshima due to his work.  I remember that I was taken into a crowded train through a window.  My sisters had already been sent there from Hiroshima where food was running out, and had attended an elementary school from their house.

 

One year later Father came to Tottori to live with us after his request for a job transfer was granted.  But, 10 years later, he had to have the surgery to remove his stomach due to stomach cancer, and 24 years later, he passed away from maxillary (upper jaw) cancer at age 60.  At that time, I did not think over the cause of his death, but now I am sure that his cancers were the effects of A-bomb radiation.  If not, what is the cause?

 

Nuclear weapons are the enemy of my parents.  The effects of radiation continue even today, and in the future.  Nuclear weapons existing today are said to have 1000 times more destructive power than the Hiroshima- and Nagasaki-type bombs.  Human beings will be annihilated if a nuclear war breaks out.  Nuclear weapons are beyond human control.  Humans cannot coexist with nuclear weapons.  Even for creating a truly peaceful world, nuclear weapons must be banned and eliminated.  Let us work together to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.