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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Toshihisa Okada (male)
'Chokubaku'  1.3 km from the hypocenter / 22 years old at the time / current resident of Kumamoto

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I came to Hiroshima for the first time on July 7. I never imagined that I should be exposed to the atomic bomb under that monstrous mushroom cloud only a month later.
Since then, I have kept trying to forget my suffering from the A-bomb exposure. Hoping not to be too late, I made up my mind to put on record what I had seen and experienced It was a long time ago. So, I will write down the facts, doing the best I can to recollect the harsh memories which are beginning to fade in a blur.

The following are some of my recollections about people who died from the A-bombing.

Officers and soldiers, who were outside or by the windows of the army barracks were burned or blown away by the bomb blast.
I met the paymaster, Captain Kageyama, at a private house in Hesaka where we evacuated. The house was under the elevated railroad of the Geibi Line. The captain was by the window at the time the bomb went off and was severely burned all over his back. All I could do for him was to get horse balm from the host of the house and dab it on his back. We were ordered to muster at Kokuzen-ji, so I headed to Kokuzen-ji, leaving the captain behind. I have not seen him since I was discharged from the army on September 4.

Cadet Akiyama from the accounting department (a graduate of Waseda University) was out of Hiroshima on an official trip of his army unit on the day the A-bomb was dropped. Ironically, his good luck in avoiding injury from the initial blast ended up costing him his life. Not injured, he was ordered to carry out duties in the vicinity of the hypocenter after his return to Hiroshima, and was fully exposed to residual radioactivity. Around August 20, he started bleeding from the gums and nose with spots developing all over his body. He breathed his last in a private house near Kokuzen-ji.

After exposure to the A-bomb, we turned to the right in front of an iron bridge near Yokogawa Station of the Sanyo Line. We headed for Hesaka walking along the river bank. Hearing the roar of an airplane overhead, we all took cover in the river staying still in order to hide ourselves from the warplane. In the river, I happened to meet Iwaki Seiichi, one year younger than I. He wore a cadet badge. He said that he had been sent to Hiroshima on an official duty of his army unit in Yamaguchi and exposed to the A-bomb. He wore a shirt but no hat. In appearance, he had no wounds.
Because he was going back to Yamaguchi in the course of that day, I asked him to let my family know that I was safe. As promised, he told my mother that I had safely survived the bombing. However, on September 4 when I was demobilized and came back home, I knew that he had died from the A-bomb disease after fulfilling my request. I remember that tears welled up in my eyes when I saw his name freshly written in his family's Buddhist altar. I hear that the present mayor of Ogohri (Yamaguchi Prefecture) is his nephew.

My comrades included an accounting cadet, Paymaster Sergeant Major Nakayama, a paymaster sergeant from Shimane Prefecture who spoke in the thick Shimane dialect, a paymaster corporal, and Junior Corporal Kuroki who was an acting noncommissioned pay officer. These officers and soldiers belonged to the Accounting Department of Akoh Corps Headquarters. We were all exposed to the A-bomb together. Only two of us, Mr. Kuroki and I, seem to have survived.

We must never let the terror of the atomic bombings fade out of our memories. Simple story-telling is not enough to definitely tell the next generations of the terror. Images, prints, narratives, and education must be combined to form a solid means to hand our memories down to the next generations.
I am worried about Japan's future course which is said to be leaning to the right.