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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Tohru Kimura (male)
'Chokubaku'  3.2 km from the hypocenter / 7 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo
129

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
Appeal for the total abolition of nuclear arms.
When I was seven years old (by the old Japanese reckoning) I was exposed to the A-bomb in Nagasaki. When I saw the flash, I jumped into an air raid shelter right away, because my father had told me about Hiroshima. That saved my life, or so I believe.

Soon after the bomb fell, I went up to my house, which was on a hill. I looked out over the town, which had transformed into rubble. I stood, dumbfounded, and thought, 'This bomb won't be used after Nagasaki. If it is, this world will be completely destroyed.' In sixty years, that is the one thing I can't forget.

The area around the hypocenter was completely destroyed. Thanks to my father, I was able to survive, but when the bomb fell, he was working at the Nagasaki Medical College, about five hundred meters from the hypocenter, and was exposed to the radiation. The day after the war ended, he died. He called me and my two brothers (we had all managed to escape to the air raid shelter) to his bedside and gave us his dying words: "Don't cause trouble to people." I can't forget how badly he was burned.

Our house was blown away by the supersonic blast; only the pillars and parts of the roof were left. It was around three kilometres away from the hypocenter, but those closer were exposed to heat of 3,000, 4,000 degrees centigrade. It burnt people and iron alike; it was hell on earth. Just after the blast, my brothers and I ran to a large air raid shelter in a cave. The fires in the town spread.
When I was three, our mother died of illness. We were orphans, as I mentioned, and relied on our relatives in Tokyo for help. We were the A-bomb orphans. We lost all our social, spiritual and economic foundations.

Time passed, and in the spring of 1977, I went to visit the wife of a professor, the director of the Nagasaki Medical College, at her home in Setagaya. My father and the professor had shared the same fate. The professor's wife had searched for her husband for four days. She walked among the many bodies all over Nagasaki, hearing the noise of maggots crawling on human remains and the dying calling out "Water, water, please." She heard that a student of the professor's had found his body.
She cremated him on top of a hill next to the university, saying "I know it's hot, but just be patient a little longer." It took her fourteen days to get back to her parents' home in Gunma prefecture.
The bombs left 70,000 dead in Nagasaki and more than 140,000 dead in Hiroshima, and left many more alive but exposed to radiation. Nuclear arms are, without a doubt, the strongest and worst weapon in human history.

I strongly appeal for the total abolition of nuclear arms. I believe that the US, which is the strongest military power in the world, and which originally dropped the A-bomb, should be the one to tackle this challenge of the 21st century. The first step is the non-proliferation of nuclear arms. There are some who say that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which allows five countries to possess nuclear weapons, is unfair, in that, for example, it allows the US to have nuclear weapons while denying the right of North Korea to have them. There are, in fact, many people who think that this is unfair. I think this is because they do not realize that nuclear weapons are extraordinarily cruel weapons of mass destruction, and that non-proliferation is an important step towards curtailing their use.
The abolition of nuclear weapons can only be achieved through people's (or nations') reason. It is important to tell people about the realities of the bombing, in order that the NPT may be ratified by all countries, and the importance of nuclear non-proliferation be made known. I long for the day when the International Court of Justice finds the use of nuclear weapons illegal. We hibakusha urgently call for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.
(2005)