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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Yoshiko Yanagawa (female)
'Chokubaku'  1.5 km from the hypocenter / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. At 75, I still clearly remember the instantaneous horror that occurred on August 6, sixty years ago, as I still have vivid flashbacks to that time. I barely escaped death by digging myself out of my collapsed school building. Although I had sustained terrible burns and broken bones, there was no first-aid treatment available. I saw bodies of soldiers in the area from the city center to the 2nd Platoon, now Motomachi. Some of the soldiers were alive and reaching out for help, but as I passed by them, I pretended not to see them. Ever since that day, I've felt sorry and remorseful. I saw a living hell that went beyond description, with a naked corpse standing on a stone wall, its eyes wide open, its tongue dangling down, and its arms up in the air.

The following evening, I finally walked to my grandmothe's house in Jigomae to see my badly wounded younger brother and my mother, but my father has been missing to this day. The skeletal remains of my grandmother, who had lived with us, were found in burned-out ruins. I heard that my relatives cared for me upon my return home, but I have no memory of the subsequent several days.

For nearly ten years, as a member of a survivors group, "HIROSHIMA WO KATARU KAI, " or "Speakers Of Hiroshima," I talked to young people overseas and at home about my experience of being exposed to the A-bomb, expressing my wish for the world to be free from wars and to become peaceful for us all. Due to its members aging and getting out of shape, the group dissolved several years ago. I feel compassion for the victims' suffering. As one who happened to survive, as long as I'm alive, I should like to convey to as many people as possible Hiroshima's pledge never to repeat that tragedy. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Hiroshima's downtown area are now reconstructed and in good order, which perhaps makes it difficult for people to imagine how things were on that day. Nevertheless, there are still many remains left in the ground and at the bottom of the sea. May all the souls there rest in peace. Perhaps my father, too, is among them. I clasp my hands in prayer every day. Please forgive us.

I have been included in some of the records made by the media, but these excerpts fail to convey all that I wanted to say. This may be due to time constraints. The footage of my testimony, shown in the Record of Personal Experience Room of the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for Atomic Bomb Victims, for example, was edited down to 20 minutes although I had spoken for two whole hours at my house. The shortened version sounds like mismatched patches of my account, which makes me wonder if I even make myself understood to the audience. I should also like to remind visitors to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum that the actual bodies of victims were in far more awful shape, in fact, far beyond human imagination, than those on display. I pledge not to waste the sacrifices made by so many and to pray for lasting peace for generations to come.

It's been five years since I responded to the survey by Asahi Shimbun. I am now in my eighties and getting by. In the meantime, my keloid-stricken younger brother, who miraculously survived the blast, passed away, as did my husband a year ago. My husband was one of the soldiers who were immediately dispatched on August 6 to the central part of Hiroshima to deal with corpses. Although he held indescribably miserable memories deep inside for 84 years, he never uttered a word about that experience, even to me, his wife.

After their deaths I fell sick and underwent surgery. Although I am still recuperating, at the request of the Japan Confederation of A-and H-bomb Sufferers Organization, I try to do my part since this might be my last chance. Little time is left now. As a survivor, I am determined to continue talking honestly on behalf of victims in the hope of motivating following generations to earnestly pursue peace on earth.