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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Hiroyuki Suzuki (male)
'Chokubaku'  / 20 years old at the time / current resident of Hyogo

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Memoirs of the A-bomb
with a Heartfelt Wish that the Same Mistake is Never Repeated

I entered the army school for maintenance of armored forces in Setagaya, Tokyo, as a special officer candidate (i.e. as one of the students being sent to the front) on January 9, 1945. I was demobilized at the beginning of September after the end of World War II. My experience as a career military officer lasted just these eight months.

On July 28, I was transferred to the Hiroshima-Akatsuki 19809 Unit (a training unit for maintenance of naval ships) in Sakamachi, Hiroshima Prefecture, after the successful first examination of my military education. On August 1, I was sent to the vessel training department of the instructional regiment at the former site of Kinka Rayon (Daiwa Spinning Mill) in Ujina 3-chome, Hiroshima, where we were supposed to master the skills required for operating naval vessels.

Thanks to a former probationary officer, Mr. Shozo Ishihara, who was our instructor at the time, I have been able to locate the whereabouts of the majority of the 86 officer candidates in my unit, although some of them have already passed away. Not surprisingly, some of their comments revealed that many of them were afraid of the aftereffects of the A-bomb. This fear I could sense; and I was no exception.

A rumor circulated that our mission was to land from the Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines as a kamikaze unit around December, at the end of our training, and work to rebuild a bridgehead in the Pacific region so that Japan could regain control of the air and seas that were then completely controlled by U.S. forces. I have no idea how such a thing could have been possible, but anyway I guess we were considered expendable.

Our home unit was based in Taio, a cape-like area pointing out to the sea from Sakamachi on the Kure Line. The name Taio is said to have come from this landscape, because the shape of the cape looks like tai o (tai means sea bream, o means tail). At the end of July, a professor from Hiroshima Bunri University came to our unit and gave a lecture titled "The Present Situation and Progress of Scientific Weapons." He happened to mention the A-bomb in his lecture, and stated that the A-bomb was possible in theory, but was yet far from being practical, and that it would take a long time and a vast amounts of money to actually put it into use. What he meant to say was that the level of technology in Japan at the time was nowhere near producing such a weapon. Only God would have known that we would, ironically, be given an atomic baptism in less than ten days later.

Of course, even after the bombing, not a single person realized that the bomb dropped was the A-bomb. People said that it was some special kind of bomb, or a thermal bomb, and even the official announcement on the radio only stated that it was a new type of bomb. We never doubted our belief that the A-bomb was a weapon of the far-distant future.

Nowadays, it seems that the A-bomb is called pikadon, but in those days we called it the perori-dan. The name comes from the mimicked sound (perori) of everything vanishing in an instant, and, more tragically, of the way the skin peeled off people who were burned in the bombing. I still remember those scenes as though they'd been seared into my memory. When I got married and had children, or when I had some kind of disease, I often imagined there might be aftereffects. I later found that we all shared this very fear. It may be from this feeling of carrying karma that we haven't really wanted to tell our stories until now.

Members of my family, who now understand me well enough, told me about the nuclear tests carried out by India (five times from May 11, 1998, at the test site of Pokhran) and Pakistan (five times from May 28, at the test site near Chagai), following those by China and France. They advised me to record what I had witnessed before my memory faded. That is why I decided to tell my story. Yet, it took place as many as 50 years ago. I hope to be forgiven for my faulty memory or any errors in my story. If my story can convey how appalling and inhumane the A-bomb is, and how there are no winners or losers in a nuclear war, which can lead only to extinction, my wish will have been fulfilled.