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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Hideko Yoshino (female)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo
5225

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. When I was 17, immediately after we had lived through the Great Tokyo Air Raid (March 10, 1945), my family entrusted my 8-year-old sister to me and sent us off to live with relatives in Hiroshima.

On August 6, 1945, sometime around 9:30, a special train transported to the station nearest to the elementary school that my sister had been attending a number of patients suffering from serious burns marked by purple blisters. They were taken into the school on stretchers and/or hand carts one after the other and put in classrooms on the first through third floors, where the school staff spread out straw mats on the floor to lay them on. I worked with a district nurse, giving treatment to hundreds of these burn victims, day and night for nearly a month, sleeping close by in order to dispense care at any time. In an atmosphere that always smelled of dead bodies, we got smeared with sweat, pus, blood, internal organs, and maggots as we worked barehanded and barefooted, squatting down with one knee drawn up to attend to our patients.

Since no medical supplies were available during wartime in that country town, we got some cooking oil from local farmers and used it as a substitute for burn ointment. We collected rags to use as a substitute for bandages, and applied these to the patients in order to push intestines which were protruding from the body back into the abdominal cavity . When maggots swarmed in the eyes and viscera of patients, we tried picking them out with a pair of tweezers and soaking them in a cresol solution. It was just complete hell on earth. We tried everything we could think of to treat the patients. But no matter what we tried, most of the patients died eventually.

One particular image that has been branded in my memory all throughout these 60 years since then was of a dying young man. In his final moment, this child soldier took my hand, feebly called out "Mother" to me, and breathed his last. He sacrificed his youth for his country without even knowing that radioactivity was killing him.

The USA accused the Iraqi regime of allegedly possessing weapons of mass destruction during Iraq War, but the atomic bombs the US used in the Pacific War were certainly weapons of mass destruction. I do not understand the US rationale for dropping two atomic bombs, the first one over Hiroshima and then another one over Nagasaki, even conceding that Japan had been in the wrong to begin with.

These days China has been criticizing Japan's acts of aggression against it during World War II, but the atomic bomb raids Japan suffered from are the worst kind of evil. No war can be just or right. A belligerent nation may try to justify its position, but war is a holocaust and genocide rooted in self-interest, race and religion. I cannot but hope that the world will be free from wars when my generation hands over to future generations. What do we need to correct human follies and lead us to the right direction? I am convinced that resolving this issue is the largest task humanity will face in the future.
(2005)