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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Shouo Michigami (male)
'Chokubaku'  0.5 km from the hypocenter / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Aichi

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
When the atomic bomb hit us, I was three kilometers [about 1.9 miles] away from the hypocenter. It took me two and a half hours to get back home, which was only 500 meters [about 547 yards] away from the hypocenter. The houses in our neighborhood were burned to ashes, and I found my four-year-old (actually, four-year-eight-month-old) brother in a nearby field. His entire body was badly burned, and he was barely alive. "Water. I need water," he murmured repeatedly. However, I didn't let him have any, fearing it would accelerate his death. He passed away within thirty minutes or so, leaving me wondering how he as a four-year-old managed to survive the explosion when no one else did. I believe he personally held on just long enough to let me see the cruel reality of the atomic bomb. I will never forgive the atomic bomb and nuclear weapons.

My father was instantly exposed to the atomic bomb, since he was only 300 meters [about 328 yards] away from the hypocenter. I couldn't find any of his remains, not even one piece of his bones. If I hadn't had his business that day, I might have shared the same fate as my father. My mother (41 years old) and my sister (five months old) were found dead under the wreckage of the house. My eleven-year-old brother was missing, and my twenty-year-old brother was in the army. The seven of us were a family at that time. My fourteen-year-old brother had gone grocery shopping for my mother. We were poor, but we had our life and enjoyed it very much. Then, I lost five of them in a blink of an eye. From that moment, at the age of sixteen, I have held a permanent grudge against the atomic bomb. Half a century later, I simply wish that all of us on Earth would totally abolish nuclear weapons.

The era we lived in is over, yet I still feel strongly about it. Children listen enthusiastically to my experience as an atomic bomb victim when I visit schools every year. I try not only to tell them about my experience as an atomic bomb victim, but also emphasize how precious it is to live with the general peace we have now. I awaken them to the idea that it is ourselves, as civilians, who will become victims when a war breaks out.

In February 2009, I was nominated by Nihon Hidankyo (the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations) to attend the Washington, D.C., meeting held by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND). There in the atomic bomb victims' session, I bore witness to my experience of being an atomic bomb victim, and advocated the elimination of nuclear weapons. In May 2010, I consequently participated in the review conference for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on behalf of Nihon Hidankyo, to call attention to the "A World Without Nuclear Weapons" campaign. For those of us who survived the atomic bomb and for the repose of the souls of our parents and siblings who became victims of it, I believe it is our duty to report what we have seen.