SpeecheMy Experience of A-bombing and Desire for a Peaceful Nuclear Weapon-free World
Assistant Secretary General, Chiba Association of A-bomb Survivors
I don’t remember much about the atomic bombing, as I was quite young at that time. Also, my mother didn’t want to tell much about the bombing. She only said, “It was a living hell.” I’d like to share with you my experience of atomic bombing based on my few memories and what I have heard from my mother and brother.
At the moment of bombing, I was at home in Hiroshima, which was located only 1.7 kilometers (1 mile) away from the blast center. I was 5 years old then. Right before 8:15am, when I was about to run out of the house on an errand for my mother to her friend’s house across the street, I heard the roar of an airplane.
The moment I hesitated to step out, I was surrounded by a dazzling flash and the sound of explosion, and everything around us was plunged into darkness. At the same time my brother hovered over me. When I stood up after a while, I saw that the house leaned; its wall fell off; and inside the house was all in a mess. Mother thought that the bomb had hit the house, so she grabbed us kids and dashed out.
On the street, people were in panic, running and walking around silently or being collapsed. They got severe injuries and burns so that they were unable to be distinguished as men or women. Fortunately, my families were safe except my mother having a slight injury on her head by a flown roof tile.
On our way to a shelter, we came across a schoolgirl who got severe burns all over her body. She asked for water, saying, “I’m hot. I’m hot. Please give me water.” As Mother had heard from the military that it would be no good to give water to burnt victims, she said to her, “Please be patient because you will die if you drink water.” The schoolgirl murmured, “If my mother were here, she would give me water.” We left her, being unable to do anything. As Mother worried about her, we came back to her after a while. Regrettably, we found her dead. Shedding tears, Mother said, “We should have given her water.”
Together with my families, I wandered about in the city on Aug. 6 and 7, looking for a shelter. I repeatedly vomited yellow gastric juice and I was crying all the time from intolerable fear.
On Aug. 7, we took the whole day to reach our relative’s house in the northern part of Hiroshima. On our way, we had to make detours many times due to the debris, roofing tiles and many other things of burned and collapsed houses scattering on the road and blocking the way. Many dead bodies were also scattered throughout the road. At the relative’s house, we children suffered from high fever and severe diarrhea, but fortunately we could survive.
I got to know later that the daughter of my father’s friend, who was of an age with me, was trapped under the fallen house and unable to get out of there by herself. She cried out, “Dad! Help me! I’ll be a good girl from now on. I promise never to do anything bad. Please get me out of here!” Other people tried to pull her out in vain. She was finally enveloped in flames. My friends whom I used to play with in the morning were killed by the blast and heat rays. Many, many children were killed under the mushroom cloud. How pitiful they were!
I narrowly survived, but I have been haunted and tormented by fear and nightmare stemming from my experience of the A-bombing on that day.
We thought that the bomb, called “PIKADON”, was different from the usual ones, but we didn’t know that the bomb emitted radiation. Without knowing that, my mother entered the city so often, looking for her relatives, friends and acquaintances. Perhaps because of that, she got severe osteoporosis. Her spinal column was damaged and curved like a hunchback. She complained of the back pain all the time and was bedridden in her old age.
After recovering from injuries, my brother often entered the city with Mother. He suffered from heart infarction and deteriorating kidney function. He had to have a dialysis 3 times a day. In addition, he had severe osteoporosis. Suffering from these illnesses, he died. As I don’t have enough knowledge about effects of radiation, I cannot say positively that their diseases were caused by A-bomb radiation. But I believe that if there had been no A-bomb attack, both of my mother and brother could have lived a better life.
One friend of mine had a husband-to-be. Her engagement was broken off, facing opposition from his parents. They said, “For the sake of our grandchildren, we will not allow my son to marry with a Hibakusha.” Another friend of mine experienced that her oldest son got cancer when he became an adult and her daughter’s daughter had a cancer when she was a university student. She blamed herself for being a Hibakusha all the time.
Endowed with good health, I could live a decent life. I feel very grateful that I could survive when I think of those who had to die tragically.
But I cannot be free of fear and anxieties of being a Hibakusha. The surviving Hibakusha are getting older, and only a short time is left for us to speak about the cruelty of nuclear weapons. I want to ask you to share with your friends and families what you hear from us today.
Nuclear weapons do not allow humans to live or die humanly. We, humans may initiate a war, but at the same time we can create and maintain peace. In order to ensure no more Hibakusha anywhere in the world and to leave our children a peaceful and beautiful planet, please join in our call for “No war! Abolition of nuclear weapons!”