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Messages from Nagasaki

Masayo Yasumoto (female)
'Chokubaku'  4.2 km from the hypocenter / 20 years old at the time / current resident of Kagoshima

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
The war was over on August 15, 1945.
I was twenty and my sister was fifteen. Our parents were from Tokunoshima Island and had no relatives in Nagasaki. After hesitating, we finally decided to go to the island. In March 1946, on our way there, we felt almost dead ourselves, especially during the time we were squeezed into the crowded Kagoshima camp. We envied other people from Tokunoshima Island who had served as volunteers for the Draft and Service Corps and were happily going home to their families. But for us, on the contrary, we were worried because we were headed for a place we had never been and were only relying on finding our uncle there. After so much trouble, we finally reached Aze, Tokunoshima-cho, Oshima District, which was a tiny colony of twelve families. I got married there. The islands of Amami, including Tokunoshima Island, were not part of Japan in those days; they were returned to Japan by the U.S. on December 25, 1953. We gathered what little money we had and used it to visit our stepmother's house, with a baby on my back. We also visited other places that we remembered.

In 1968, I had an operation to remove my left cancerous breast. Then my stepmother advised me that I qualified to apply for an A-Bomb Survivors Health Book, which I received on November 25, 1977. In 1977, I was selected as the representative of Kagoshima Prefecture to attend Memorial Services in Nagasaki. I decided to take my daughter with me. At the site, I was disgusted to learn that my father's name was not listed on the memorial box. Why had his soul been left to drift over the water of the Urakami River, the hypocenter, for 57 years? I shed tears while begging him for forgiveness. At the same time, I acknowledged how glad he would be when his existence was verified by his living daughter.

When I attended the 57th Memorial Service with my daughter, many pigeons were released to fly away into the sky, but one pigeon flew into our tent instead. At that moment, someone next to me tapped my shoulder to say that a pigeon was at my feet. But I couldn't find her. So, I asked my daughter on my left who said, "Yes, there was one wandering about your feet." It was a hair-raising moment for me! Other people may not believe it, but I realize that ghosts do exist in this world, like my father's spirit appearing as that pigeon.

My father's remaining belongings are taken care of at the Nagasaki A-Bomb Museum, and his photo is displayed at the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the A-Bomb Victims, where the Book of Victims is available for visitors. I have attended the Memorial Services twelve times, and each time it felt like the last one. I attended the 64th Memorial Service last year with my daughter. Just before the ceremony began, we offered incense and prayers while holding my father's photo. The moment I turned around, three interviewers held out their microphones in turn to ask me questions. The service began as soon as I finished answering them. The 65th Memorial Service will be held this year. I am 85 years old, and it seems it will be impossible for me to attend because of my illness. My heartfelt desire is that all nuclear weapons completely disappear from earth through all people's utmost efforts, and that we not allow future generations to go through the same tragic experiences as we did.

Please try to understand my story, which was written in the order that I remembered it.
The name of the manager at the factory where my father worked was Mr. Saburo Takikawa.
I think the factory where I was working at that time was about 4.2 kilometers [2.6 miles] from the hypocenter, and from the main factory in Mori-machi it was about two kilometers [1.2 miles] from the hypocenter.
(2010) Age when A-bombed: 20
Distance from the hypocenter: 4.2 kilometers[2.6 miles]