JAPANESE

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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Isamu Inoue (male)
'Chokubaku'  1 km from the hypocenter / 14 years old at the time / current resident of Chiba
11173

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
Though my heart rebelled within me, I began to write this memoir in the hope that it would bring home to all Japanese citizens the fact that war should never be waged, no matter what the reason. Many young people do not even know that there was a war and that many people died in that war, let alone that the peace that Japan now enjoys is based on the efforts of the victims and the bereaved of the war.

How time passes! It is already 60 years since the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. It happened at 11:02 am on August 9, 1945. I was in the second year of middle school. In those days, when children reached that grade there were no school classes. Instead they were mobilized to work every day helping to produce weapons in armaments factories.

On the day the atomic bomb was dropped, the sunlight was blazing down upon the city. I was half naked, in a pair of work trousers covered with oil stains. A popular slogan in those days said, "We won't ask for anything until we win." Embracing the spirit of that catchphrase, I was working hard, dripping perspiration, believing that we would achieve victory over the United States of America.

When the atomic bomb exploded in the skies of Nagasaki it emitted a flash of light that seemed to be hundreds of times more intense than lightning. I suddenly threw myself to the ground, covering my eyes and ears with my hands. When I opened my eyes, I found the room was filled with yellow smoke. I was struck dumb, having no idea what had happened. I could see people rushing out of the school, screaming with terror, so I also ran outside. I dashed to the designated air raid shelter as fast as my legs would carry me.

On my way to the air raid shelter, as far as the eye could see, the whole city was engulfed in a sea of flames. Everywhere in the city were pillars of flame. Terrified, with no way of knowing what had happened, I jumped into the shelter. I didn't know until later, but when the atomic bomb exploded, as I lay face down in the corridor, 88 fragments of window glass embedded themselves throughout my body. At the time I was just concentrating on surviving somehow or other and I felt no pain.

A few hours after I entered the shelter, I heard soldiers outside shouting through a loudspeaker, "A new type of bomb has been dropped on Nagasaki City. If you are hurt, you will become cold and sleepy if you have lost too much blood. If you fall asleep, you will die. Speak to each other to prevent yourselves from falling asleep." When they had finished their announcement, they went away.

Before long, some of my friends started to doze off. I called out to them, "T, you'll die if you sleep! I, wake up! You'll die if you sleep!" After a while I too became sleepy. I fell asleep, but one of my friends woke me up, crying, "Inoue, you'll die if you sleep! Wake up!"

One victim of the bombing came to our shelter. Murmuring deliriously, "Fuck off Roosevelt!" he bashed his head against the wall until he died.

A nineteen-year-old man who I worked with came into the shelter about 30 minutes after the explosion. He was so stout that it looked like he probably weighed as much as 90kg. He was holding his stomach, which was bleeding terribly. When I looked at him carefully, I saw that he was holding his intestines to prevent them from spilling out. His head was bleeding heavily too. He had been working less than one meter [perhaps only about three feet] away from me. Probably he failed to dive to the ground, got his stomach blown open by the blast and hit his head violently on the reinforced concrete of the building. He died 30 minutes later. If I hadn't thrown myself to the ground, I would surely have died just like him. I am full of gratitude to the friend who woke me up when I couldn't help falling asleep, since if he hadn't, I would certainly have perished.

The next day, one friend after another went back home because there was no food in the air raid shelter. But I had injuries all over my body and couldn't walk.

Just then a young woman who had always treated me as kindly as if I were her younger brother found me. She had worked in the same place as me since she was mobilized while at vocational school (equivalent to junior college). She was very happy to find me alive and suggested that she take me home. She piggy-backed me four-kilometers [2.5miles] to my home. On the way home, I wondered where all the people came from.
(2005. Continued in 2010 account below.)