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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Ikuo Komoto (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 13 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima
9063

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, my family was living a poor but happy life in the country in the Chugoku Mountains, about seventy kilometers [43.5 miles] away from the city.

After the evacuation of Hiroshima in March 1945, by order of the prefectural government, my father was mobilized as worker in clearing the abandoned houses there.

On August 6, the very day when the atomic bomb was dropped, he was exposed to the bomb while constructing an air raid shelter at Honkawa Elementary School, 400 meters [a 1/4 mile, or 437 yards] away from the hypocenter, and went missing together with his twelve colleagues. I was thirteen-years old at that time and went to Hiroshima the following week and twice after that with my mother and elder sister to look for my father. In spite of our strenuous search around the school in the intense heat, we could not find him.

While walking around in search of our father, we caught sight of a city that was terrible beyond description and I will never be able to rid my mind of the formidable and destructive power of the atomic bomb as long as I live.

My father was killed by exposure to the atomic bomb in the prime of his life - at age forty-two - leaving six young children, the oldest a 13-year-old daughter, as well as two younger sons, two younger daughters, and me. When our family lost its breadwinner, we also lost our family income at a time of postwar hyperinflation and food shortages. Our mother must have gone through immeasurable hardships, and I often wonder how she managed to raise six children in such poverty. I am very grateful to her.

My elder sister sacrificed her youth by working so that she could contribute to our family's income. I also started working in Hiroshima as soon as I left junior high school, and I continued sending money to my family while attending high school part-time.

In 1970, twenty-five years after the war, we found out that our father's remains were enshrined in a memorial pagoda, so we could get possession of them back. In the same year, perhaps feeling relieved about this, our 63-year old mother died of a malignant tumor. Her cancer was most likely caused by her exposure to radiation when she entered Hiroshima.

I had heard that the city required each victim to provide two witnesses who had met him or her in the city at the time of the bombing in order to apply for the Atomic Bomb Survivor's Certificate. It was difficult for those who lived in the country, like us, to find witnesses who had seen us in the city, so I had given up on applying.

However, recently a consultant at the Atomic Bomb Survivors' Support Center had told me that we could apply for the certificate if there was a witness who knew of our exposure at the time, but was not necessarily a person who had actually met us in the city. We immediately applied for the Certificate and we finally got it in 2002. Since I am in ill health now, this certificate is really helpful. In fact, many more people, who became sick as they got old because they had been in the city to seek their family, or acquaintances, or to do rescue operations, are still unverified. I wonder if there is any way to give them a helping hand.

Although the United States should be considered responsible for the damages because it actually used the nuclear weapons, I think the Japanese government also must be held responsible for having pushed its way into a stupid war. Those most affected by the war are the common citizens, especially vulnerable are the women and children.

Sixty years have passed since the end of the last war, and there are many young people who do not know they should fear war, but our generation must be the last victims of war. I would like to strongly call for the renunciation of war, which is provided for in Article 9 of the constitution, and for maintaining the three antinuclear principles forever in order not to repeat such a horrible war again.
(2005)