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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Morio Ozaki (male)
'Chokubaku'  1 km from the hypocenter / 19 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Air Raids on Tokyo and Atomic Bomb Casualties in Hiroshima

In 1945, we had scarcely any food or living necessities available in town stores. In the early hours of March 9, we had night air raids by no less than 300 B-29 bombers that assaulted the Japanese people, irrespective of their military or civilian status. The bombers dropped over 2,000 tons of fire bombs onto downtown Tokyo. The town was in a blaze and the fire was so fierce that even people in the distant town of Suginami could have been able to read newspapers lit up by the fire. The bombers targeted the downtown area and killed people by dropping fire bombs in such an atrocious way as to encircle the inhabitants within a bomb cage, making them unable to get out. Thus, more than 100,000 non-combatant civilians were burned alive.

The next morning, upon arrival at the factory where we were mobilized to work, we were ordered to engage in relief activities at Sensohji Temple Hospital (which still stands today) where about 2,000 burn victims were received for care. On the way to the temple, we saw numerous wrecked bicycle trailers, large hand-drawn carts, and cooking pots and pans on the Azumabashi Bridge. The Matsuya Department Store was still throwing out flames from the windows. The Nakamise Shopping Street was hot from the smoldering fire. Although the inner temple of Sensohji was burned down, there stood notice boards stating that the principal image of Buddha was left intact. On the temple grounds were piles of dead bodies with burned clothes and arms extended like mannequins. We were mad about what the American and British military did to us.

In the evening, Japanese soldiers came and rudely threw the bodies of the dead on trucks using fire hooks for the collection of corpses. The next morning, though, we found many broken hands and feet left uncollected.

The factories of the Nakajima Aircraft Company in Momonoi were often the main targets of bombings, claiming many victims. In the snow or above the clouds, we could not see air combat between friend and foe, hearing only roaring noises. Explosions of time bombs ensued for several days after each bombing. It was terrible to feel the earth tremble and houses shake from the bomb explosions.

Repeated air raids changed Tokyo into a burned out city. Looking out from the top of high buildings, we could clearly discern the ups and downs of Tokyo. On the night of May 25, fire bombs were dropped in countless numbers across uptown Tokyo, from the Eifukucho to the Hamadayama areas. The Eifukucho area was totally destroyed by fire. My house had its gate and fence burned.

The Inokashira Railway Line had its Eifukucho Garage burned down, losing practically all the cars. Only one car was left intact. That last car undertook the transport of all the passengers, making round trips all day and every day. The car was always jam-packed and some passengers could not get on board. Those who missed the car could do nothing but wait for more than one hour until the car returned.

I was drafted into the army, and was stationed in Hiroshima on May 29, immediately after the occupation of Okinawa by the U.S. Armed Forces. The drill for recruited soldiers in Hiroshima mainly involved of suicide-attack training, that is, carrying a bombshell on one's back and jumping in front of enemy tanks to destroy American troops when they landed. The drill also included the evacuation of war supplies and the demolition of barracks. It was a hard job to carry mountains of knocked-down materials on carts and transport them in the cold rain to the port of Ujina. The carts would pass that particular building now called the Atomic Bomb Dome.

Although American carrier-borne aircraft frequently assaulted military-based Hiroshima, they never bombarded the city, but simply passed over the area. The aircraft attacked the navy- based city of Kure. Hiroshima was kept "as it was" for the sake of testing the atomic bomb.