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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Akie Matsudomi (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 18 years old at the time / current resident of Yamanashi

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I, Akie Matsudomi, male, 18 years of age, was officially designated as an A-bomb survivor on the Atomic Bomb Survivors Certificate under Clause One: Action immediately after bombing, that is, entering into Futabano Sato of Hiroshima on August 7.

August 6th this year is the 65th anniversary of the A-bomb. I am already 83 years old and very forgetful in daily life, but I will never forget the miserable scenes I observed after the A-bomb explosion.

At that time I was a middle school boy, but quit school in order to apply for a job, which I had longed for, as a pilot apprentice. My application was rejected because I was too short. I was hired by National Railway and on August 6, one year and three months later, the new bomb was dropped over Hiroshima, completely destroying the city. At 10 a.m. the Sanyo Line was reported to be unavailable and I left for recovery work on the 21:00 rescue train, as ordered. I received a draft card on August 20.

The train went up the Sanyo Line under cover of night to the sound of an air raid warning siren, and arrived at Iwakuni. For the trip further to the east the train moved slowly. From the time the train passed the city of Itsukaichi, injured people began to come into sight. I was not directly affected by the A-bomb explosion, and I knew nothing of the scene of the A-bomb explosion, but entering into Hiroshima, I could see spread wide before me the disastrous state of the city. Here are the five most unforgettable sights.

(1) What I saw first was a tragic sight: dozens of bodies laid in the square near Koi Station, now called Nishi-Hiroshima Station, where there was an agricultural warehouse containing a huge amount of smoldering rice.

(2) In the Kyobashi River flowing in front of rescue headquarters there were charred and swollen bodies drifting up and down with the tide. I saw soldiers bringing the bodies up on to the sandbar with ropes and cremating them with oil, the smoke rising into the air.

(3) On the second morning, August 8, a platoon of about 30 soldiers lined up. One suddenly raised his hand violently against the platoon leader, a lieutenant. I imagined that the soldier was a draftee who had left his parents, wife and children at home and was crazed. I hope he is fine today, though I have no idea of how he was treated later. Hopefully, he wasn't killed, because the war ended only 7 days later, on August 15.

(4) We were so hungry with rescue work that we all peeled and ate the pumpkins in the field burned by the A-bomb. At age 30 I lost my hair and kept to myself the fear that it was due to my exposure to the A-bomb. I am happy that I am still alive today.

(5) Although people trapped under collapsed houses were groaning, there were no doctors, nurses or hospitals available, and we could not do anything to help. As their voices gradually faded away, many people, whom I think today's medical treatment could have saved, slowly died.

My present impressions
These days, the month of August slips back in time to the Showa era [1926-1989]. In August various media carry many articles about the atomic bomb and the end of the war. I want this tragic event not to be forgotten, but handed down to future generations. After the war medicine advanced so much that Japan now has the longest life expectancy in the world, but chemistry, too, advanced at the same time and so did chemical weapons. All this prevents the world from being free from war. If the world were at peace, there would be no need for the defense budget.