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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Kiyoko Yoshida (female)
'Chokubaku'  2 km from the hypocenter / 15 years old at the time / current resident of Saitama

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. 1. I was exposed to the A-bomb when I was working at a munitions plant in Yoshijima, two kilometers south of the hypocenter. The explosion collapsed the factory building injuring many people and killing several, but I only suffered a minor injury. Most of the people who were outside had been burned, their clothes shredded and skin raw.

I was dismissed around three o'clock in the afternoon, and started to head home in Tenjin-cho (hypocenter), walking over the roofs of collapsed houses. On the way home, in Takanobashi, I saw many boys and girls lying on the street crying for water. Their bodies were swollen and I could not even tell where their noses and mouths were. They were middle school and Girl's School students who were in labor service for building demolition near the Hiroshima City Office, which was hidden in white smoke ahead of me. They were exposed to the A-bomb there and barely escaped alive. Later, I learned that almost all 1st and 2nd grade students of my school (330 students) were killed on that day. It was such a tragic disaster, and I could hardly bare to look at the scene. There was nothing I could do to help them. I will never forget that day for the rest of my life. When I finally arrived at the place where my house had been standing, I found that the whole area was a burned field of ruins. I could not find my mother, so I walked all the way back to Yoshijima to an air raid shelter. On that evening, my father came to the shelter looking for me. I was very happy to see him. When he was exposed to the A-bomb in his office near Hiroshima Station, he was blown away with the building walls and knocked unconscious. His clothes were shredded and he had injuries all over his body. He headed home first but had to give up when he faced a sea of fire. He could not find my younger brother who was working at a plant in Kamitenma-machi, and he visited many places until he found me in Yoshijima. That day, Hiroshima continued burning through the night.

On the next morning, I left Yoshimjima and headed for where my house used to stand. On the way home passing through Kako-machi, I saw body after body of female students with their heads in water storage tanks trying to have a sip of water.
Those were the students who were in labor service for building demolition near the prefectural government. The scene was nothing short of hell. A total of 7,200 mobilized students were killed there, including many of my childhood friends. The worst hit were the five demolition sites in Hiroshima where as many as 5,900 students lost their lives. (Please see the first special exhibition in 2004 titled "Mobilized Students -- Stolen Future of Children")

2. I hope that Japan, the only nation that has experienced atomic bombs, will contribute to world peace by adhering to its Pacifist Constitution. I am absolutely against Japan's Self-Defense Forces serving as military forces. Superpowers have repeatedly conducted nuclear tests, and it is speculated that more than a million people have suffered damage because of them. Details of damage have been kept confidential and have not been disclosed. just as happened in the cases of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With smaller nations also insisting on retention nuclear weapons for self-defense, prospects for elimination of nuclear weapons are gloomy. When you look at the present state of the world as well as the political situation in Japan, the world seems to be heading in the opposite direction from elimination of nuclear weapons. I sincerely pray and hope that people in the world will recognize the reality of nuclear weapons and start working toward total elimination of nuclear weapons by putting their heads together.