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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Hiroshi Oishi (male)
'Chokubaku'  1.1 km from the hypocenter / 12 years old at the time / current resident of Saitama

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
My Memory of the A-Bomb

When I was exposed to the A-Bomb on August 9th, I was in the 6th grade of National Elementary School. At that time I was playing with a few friends and my younger brother who was in the second grade around a pool below a waterfall of the Urakami River surrounded by woods. These woods shaded us from the direct bomb flash, but a severe blast and gas hit us. Coming to my senses, I found everyone alive, though we couldn't move from fear for a while. We walked back home looking around. Urakami Catholic Church was in a blaze with crackling noises.

We saw many people walking toward air raid shelters along the river, some with their eyes popping out and hanging from their faces, and some with their skin hanging like they were wearing ragged shirts, a sight that made us rush home.

When I got home, I saw my mother and three year-old youngest sister who had been burned all over lying in the shelter of our neighborhood association. My father, who had stopped digging a shelter at a nearby cliff at the time of bombing had rescued them.

My older brother, the third son in the family, was home digging through debris to restore the well and together with our father was fighting fires and rescuing neighbors.
I saw a teacher of Yamazato National Elementary School who looked pale and exhausted walking back home hastily to Kihara 3-chome.

Nagasaki Technical High School (the current Nanzan High School), which was located about 300 meters from our house, collapsed from the blast. We heard many students crying out loud asking for help in the blaze under the collapsed buildings, but no one could get close to help them.

Before the bombing my younger sister in Grade Two had been sent to a supply store for rations below Urakami Catholic Church, but she had not come back yet. My father, my brother, and I carefully looked around, searching for her on the way to the store. We saw numerous small charred bodies scattered and smoldering in alleys and in burnt houses. None of them were moving. We saw one dead body slammed onto a stone wall by the blast and flash from which greasy sweat was dripping in the direct sunlight.

In Urakami River in front of the store we could see the burnt and collapsed belfry from the church. Cows and horses were trapped in and around the bridge. Numerous swollen, dead human bodies were floating in the river, probably because they had flocked there to drink water.

Again on August 10 we went out to look for our sister at mother's request. Many people were searching for their missing ones. It seemed impossible to find our sister, but we finally brought a small charred body to show her. Then our youngest sister died and the next day, on August 11, our mother died, too, but I somehow don't remember about her death and temporary burial.

Overlooking the ground of Junshin Gakuin Girls' Middle School in the burned field of ruins, we saw pillars of fire rising every night, which must have come from the cremation of dead bodies. What a sad memory it was.

On the hill behind we found a cow killed by the bombing. We ate its meat and the vegetables there and small sweet potatoes that we dug out of the field. I believe we survivors helped each other in the shelter of the neighborhood association.

Several days later our relatives arrived to rescue us and took me and my younger brother to our mother's hometown, Tabira, but I don't remember this either.

Following this I had a high fever, headache, and sore throat, and my hair started to fall out whenever I washed my face. In a few days it was all gone and I became bald. Besides my skin being sore and festering, I felt drugged and was very close to death, though I don't remember any of this clearly.

I do not remember the second term of school well either, but in the third term I enjoyed good health in playing baseball in our school grounds. While I didn't mind my bald head, as everybody was like that in those days, in the graduation photo I could see myself as healthy after passing the entrance exam of the prefectural junior high school. I am very grateful for the fact that I was able to regain my good health thanks to the fresh vegetables, nutritious fish, and kind support of my relatives and other people around me.

Message for Peace

Sometimes human beings are capable of doing something beyond imagination. Immediately after the bomb, I could not think anything but retaliation and applying for a suicide attack unit.

Today we have to disseminate our peace constitution with its renunciation of war around the world, and in order to comply with this we must promote the complete abolition of nuclear weapons with the principles of "Neither possessing arms, Nor allowing arms to be possessed."

It may not be the best solution, but we have to reexamine the following in order to avoid a growing militarism: War criminals, who developed self-righteousness about the use of force, who should be separately enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine; the Emperor's war responsibility as someone deified as a living god; the brainwashing education using the Education Rescript; the national flag and anthem which symbolize loyalty to the imperial family; the Emperor as a symbol of the country and unity of the people.

March 31, 2010

Location at the time of bombing (address): 1-101 Motohara-machi, Nagasaki City
1.10 km from hypocenter

A-Bomb Survivors' Health Handbook obtained: July 2, 1975, at the age of 42 years
A-Bomb disease approved: Colon cancer, September 11, 2008.

NOTE: The witness was exposed outdoors at a radius from the hypocenter where the combined dose of gamma rays and neutron spray was 600r. This was, for most people, a lethal dose from prompt radiation effects alone, and survival was likely made possible only by partial shadow shielding by the trees - which shaded the witness from the flash effects.