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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Sumiharu Nakamichi (male)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 13 years old at the time / current resident of Hyogo

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
The scene I still remember vividly is of a fifteen- or sixteen-year-old female volunteer Service Corps student, who was transported from Nagasaki to Isahaya in the early evening of August 9. Her tattered clothes were bloodstained, and her face and hands were burned… It was a harrowing scene.

I'm not exactly sure when, but it was probably the day after the bombing or two or three days later that many A-bomb victims were brought to my school. I had a hard time pushing back the people who came to the faucets to drink water. I was told to stop them because they would die from drinking the water. Dozens of people passed away each day.

The dry sound of the corpses being loaded onto carts still remains in my ears. Every day I transported them to a crematorium.

My father, who worked at the Mitsubishi shipyards, didn't come home on the day of the bombing or the day after. He said he was walking around looking for the houses of his relatives and friends. He eventually came home two or three days later. Every year around that time, my father, who had never had an illness, became sick and stayed in bed for about a week. In the end, he passed away with pancreatic cancer. It is such a shame that the life of my father, who was so tough, was taken by the A-bomb.

When I was a second-year student at middle school under the old education system, a boy named Sakamoto-kun* was transferred to my school from Nagasaki. The kind smile of this warm, gentle classmate was unforgettable. He had lost all his hair and had no energy about him. Some time after he was transferred to my school, he stopped coming. I heard a rumor that he had passed away. I couldn't confirm that he had died, but that was the feeling I had.

I don't remember Sakamoto-kun's first name. I asked other classmates, but no one recalled his name. Yet even now, over sixty years later, Sakamoto-kun, with those gentle eyes, still lives in my heart. I don't know if he remembered us, but I will never forget. For the sake of Sakamoto-kun and others, I will never give up the fight.

Things My Father Told Me During My Childhood
1) Ikki Kasei (accomplishing or happening all at once) is a characteristic of the Japanese people. It means that when someone raises his or her voice, everyone starts to agree at once.
When the momentum toward war increases, people look around themselves and collectively swing in that direction. People are afraid of being ostracized.
2) He said that Japan would lose the war around 1942. The disparity in national strength would surely become evident! He said to never talk about this to others as we would be caught by the Military Police.
When I visited the U.S. some years later, I saw the vastness of the land as the airplane landed at San Francisco, and wondered why [Japan] had gone to war with such a huge country. I clearly remember how shocked I was when I saw an oil field near the airport.

My Thoughts about Mass Media
When Japan went to war, there was violent pressure brought about by the military and government officials, and all the mass media, including Asahi Newspaper Company, gave in to the pressure. Unless people speak up before this happens, I think that the results are plain to see.
I question whether or not judgment was fair toward the people who were tortured for being anti-war, or toward some Christians and communists. I hope that people in the media seriously reflect on the past.
Currently, Jukunen-sha (Senior Citizens) Union, of which I am a member, holds a demonstration between Sannomiya and Motomachi 6-chome once a month to protest against war and to support concern for the elderly and the weak as well as safeguarding of the constitution.
Unless we continue to speak up it will end up just as former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi said it would.

* "-kun" is an honorific suffix added to the name of a person (usually a boy), who is younger or around one's age, to show friendliness and respect.