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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Noriko Sato (female)
'Chokubaku'  2 km from the hypocenter / 16 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. (1) What do you remember, even now, about your experience?

Sometimes, I stare at my hands. They must have come into contact with more than 100 hibakusha. There was the man who died ten meters away with his head in a fire cistern after I refused to give him water from the well because I had been told that if I gave the A-bomb victims water they would die. Then there was the neighbor boy Kaname, who I left in the air raid shelter on Hijiyama Hill, with only candle light and the stench of dead bodies. There was also the neighbor's baby, Keiko, who died while nursing from her mother's breast. I tried to separate Keiko from her mother but couldn't because their burnt skin was stuck together. I cremated baby Keiko with my own hands. At the nearby primary school, there were a large number of people lying around, their bodies infested with maggots. I tried and tried to get rid of the maggots but it was no use. The people died one after another and I cremated them every day at the schoolyard. Then there were the corpses by the side of the road that I picked up and put on a truck to be carried away. There was a bit of oil that had been buried as reserve, and when I applied it to the hibakusha walking along the street, a tremendous line formed. And I treated my mother's burns (she was exposed at Hiroshima Station) by applying cucumbers and potatoes to the affected areas. [Long pause] As I was eating breakfast, there was a small parachute up in the sky. It had a parcel attached and was slowly falling towards the ground. Then blue sky flashed pink and there was a tremendous boom. I finally managed to flee on foot, carrying my futon (bedding) on my back, only for black rain to fall that night. There are a great many haunting things that happened. Even now, I can't forget.

(2) How do you feel about those people who died in the A-bombing?

We had been more than patient in doing exactly as we had been told by the government [during the war], and this was the result. I was bitterly disappointed. Even now, I am filled with frustration.

(3) What do you want to ask of the next generation?

I would like them to think very, very carefully about their responsibility as leaders [for the next generation]. I want them to value human life and make informed decisions about things. Please become people who are aware of the distant future, not just what's in front of you. I want each person to be like this.

For the last two years, I had the honor of meeting the prince and the princess of Jordan in Amman. When their Highnesses met me, an Atomic-bomb patient from Hiroshima, their blue eyes widened, and they said, "We have met a person of history, today." They asked me about what really happened, and I told them. It seems that people in Jordan thought the dropping of the A-bomb was a single point in history that happened long ago. Only after their Highnesses met a hibakusha in person could they think of the A-bomb with some degree of familiarity. I'm afraid there seem to be a great many countries whose people don't know about the A-bomb. It is my fervent hope that it will be known throughout the world.