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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Yoshimitsu Ikoma (male)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 21 years old at the time / current resident of Gifu

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I entered Hiroshima on August 7 aboard a motorized launch as a navy medic and a member of the rescue team from the Medical Corps stationed at Etajima. Floating dead on the water were at least ten bodies of people who had jumped into the river to escape the heat, and we had to use a harpoon to push the bodies out of the way and make our way to our destination.

The city was a black burnt plain as far as the eye could see. Women, children, and elderly people were suffering from burns. Women especially suffered from keloids. Their skin hung from their faces like old rags. They had a painfully pitiful look on their faces, like ghosts, and were crying for help. They screamed for water. The sight of four and five-year olds reaching out for help from beneath the rubble was like a living hell itself. Countless bodies of the dead lay all around us, scorching in the heat, the stink of the corpses rising. It was truly like the Buddhist Hell of Eternal Flames. It was pitiful and tragic in the extreme. I do not want to recall this scene from sixty years ago. We were only able to provide first aid, using medicines like mercurochrome, tincture of iodine, rivanol, burn ointments, and zinc oxide. I have never forgotten that scene of living hell, of extreme cruelty and agony. It was my first time as a young man to participate in a relief operation.

We must steadfastly follow the three basic rules of anti-nuclear activism in order to keep future generations from such painful wars (and nuclear experiments):
There must be no more victims of atomic and nuclear weapons.
There must be no more Hiroshimas and Nagasakis.
We must protect Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution renouncing war.


I am one of the victims of the atomic bomb who have sued to be certified as sufferers of radiation-related illness stemming from the atomic bomb. Given how emotionally painful and time-consuming these lawsuits are, it would be better if Japan would pass protection laws and establish a social security system for all hibakusha. That way, they could all receive equal benefits without discrimination, and their lives would be made easier. This is a plea of an elderly 81-year-old without much time left. I ask everyone to give it due consideration.

We have been denied reparations from the State provided under the Atomic Bomb Victims Relief Law. Instead, we have had many years of continual arbitration with the A-bomb victims' pension system. Atomic bomb victims have started class action suits in order to be certified as victims of atomic bomb illness (and receive payments). If a social security system were established, then we could do away with these painful lawsuits. This is something that all hibakusha have called for for many years. A good system would pay all victims equally and without discrimination. This is a plea from an elderly man without much time left.

We have made this request repeatedly to the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations.