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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Kenzo Sakamoto (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 11 years old at the time / current resident of Kumamoto

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
1. What I cannot forget:
August 9th, the 20th year of Showa, dawned with the sun blazing down. It was a happy morning during summer vacation. At the age of 12 I was an evacuated child, fresh from Nagasaki Shiroyama Elementary School. I was in the sixth grade of Okusa Elementary School where I had moved with my elder sister, who was a teacher, and my younger sister.

I was in the middle of a swim at the pier of a village harbor when I heard the sudden sound of a siren, an air raid alert, and then an air raid warning. I don't know why, but the air raid warning was soon called off, and the long sound of an air raid alert was heard. Straining my ears, I heard the groaning buzz of a B-29. I was not confused and focused my eyes upon the sky. But I had difficulty sighting an airplane, and it seemed to me that something like a parachute - two or three of them - fell down. The buzzing faded, headed from Omura Bay toward Nagasaki, and a few seconds later I heard the sound of a boom and saw the flash of light from a bomb blast. Sitting at the pier, I fell into the sea.

The village was calm, but I reported this event to Mr. Manzo Hashimoto and his wife Shizu at our place of refuge. In the evening I watched black smoke rise from the outskirts of Nagasaki, which were burning brightly red. The next day I heard grown-ups saying that a new style bomb had been dropped over Nagasaki and that village young people had gone to the rescue … I spent a sleepless night, worrying about my parents, my elder brother, and my younger sister, who had remained at home.

Two days later, I suddenly heard the sound of a car and when I peeped from behind a pillar, I saw two women, who had been scorched black, being carried from the car. One woman spoke to me as I was hiding behind the pillar, terribly frightened.

I confirmed it was Mother calling my name. I remember my whole body utterly trembled and I couldn't stop my tears from flowing. Big holes, open all over her belly, her ears, mouth and nose, were infested with wriggling maggots. I eagerly removed the maggots from Mother, who screamed, "Ouch! Ouch!" After a while, however, the wounds became full of maggots again. In spite of all the nursing by Mr. and Mrs. Hashimoto and my sisters, our mother passed away at midnight on August 16th. The next day, along with my sisters, Mr. Hashimoto and I cremated her remains by setting them afire in the field. On August 18th we went to Nagasaki with her ashes.

At Urakami Station Square, I still remember, child that I was, looking at a completely burned horse. When I poked at its belly with a stick, I was bathed all over in meat juice. All around were mounds of hideously burned corpses; they were beyond description. For the sake of world peace, A-bombs should never be used again. Although we are in the nuclear age, we hibakusha cry out for a production ban.

PS In 2008, I noticed an abnormal symptom related to my thyroid gland hormone and since then I've been under medical treatment. Because of my advanced age, I'm very anxious about any disorders that may appear in the future. However, I've been tenacious.

I feel resentment and dissatisfaction about a comment made by a then American statesman : When news reporters asked him why he directed the A-bomb to be dropped on Japanese cities, he gave an irresponsible answer … it was an order from above. However, the young American soldiers were very kind to us, and we are full of gratitude to them even now.