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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Misa Moriya (female)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 24 years old at the time / current resident of Ibaraki

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. My War Experience -- Excerpts from a Talk "A Hospital Ship and Hiroshima through a Military Nurse's Eyes"

1. Introduction
Once in a while I've overheard young people saying, "I feel sorry for old people. I think we are lucky to be born in such a peaceful time," as if the war were an ancient story unrelated to them. It sometimes makes me skeptical whether my talk of war experience is of any value.
But the other day a youth said to me, "I've found the difference between 'to listen to battlefield experiences' and 'to learn from those war experiences.' I think to learn from someone's war experience means to not just hear a first-hand account of what happened to them in a battlefield, but to further reflect on what and how the speaker thought and felt, keeping in mind the relevant history and social background." Remembering these encouraging words of the youth, I'd like to begin my talk now in response to them.

2. A Photo Witnesses. -- The war had been prepared while the public knew nothing.
This photo was taken in October 1941 within the precincts of Hiroshima Gokoku Jinja (shrine for the war dead), in commemoration of the departure of our hospital ship corps with 500 members. About one half of them were forced to graduate nurses' school six months earlier than usual, and received their akagami draft calls. They were known as "Japanese Red Cross nurse students for the front."
At the time no one, even the commander, knew the war would be started only two months later.

3. Education and War -- Education at home, in society, and at school
I was born in 1921 on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture. At the time, photos of the emperor and empress were hung in the tokonoma alcove of every household. On national holidays the hinomaru rising-sun flag flew at the entrance of every home.
The Manchurian and Shanghai Incidents occurred during my third year of primary school. And then the Lugou Qiao Incident and Sino-Japanese War occurred while I was a student at an all girls' high school. Receiving a militaristic education in this environment, I volunteered to enter the Niigata Branch of the Japanese Red Cross Relief Nurse Training School; I was full of pride in the idea of caring for the sick and the wounded Imperial Army soldiers.
At the school, our rigorous education stressed the humanitarian values of hakuai (philanthropy) and jizen (charity), as well as the patriotic values of hokoku (patriotism) and juppei" Juppei means to "repay the nation by caring for its soldiers," and I didn't realize then that it contradicted "philanthropy and charity."

4. On Board a Hospital Ship as Military Nurse, and Transfered to a Military Hospital (Age 20 to 23)
Brought up a staunch patriot girl through the above mentioned pre-war education, I was engaged in nursing service afloat for two years, during which I made 22 round trips between the Ujina Base in Japan and various places in the Pacific, Continental China, and the Malay Peninsula.
Hospital ships were not supposed to be attacked according to the Geneva Conventions. But Japanese ships often transported combatants, arms and ammunition, and comfort women against the Conventions, which led to assaults from the U.S.
The greatest hardship on board, for me, was seasickness in the stormy weather. I struggled to work carrying a washbowl in case I needed to vomit.

At first our patients were composed largely of the wounded in the landing operations on the Malay Peninsula, the Philippines, and Singapore, but later there was an increase in the number of cases of malnutrition, malaria, and tropical ulcer.
In Manchuria and Korea, we had many tuberculosis cases. Going home on account of illness was considered disgraceful then.
Mental disorder cases accounted for about ten percent of the patients on any voyage, which increased as the war situation worsened.
On my last voyage from Raboul, all of the patients without exception suffered debility resulting from hunger, and some of them died on board. We had a furnace for cremation on the deck and to cremate the remains of soldiers by coal fire was also a task of the nurses.
After working for two years on hospital ships I was transferred to the Provisional Tokyo Third Army Hospital in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, and then demobilized after one year.