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For Those Who Pray for Peace
The Birth of the Picture Book My Hiroshima

Junko Morimoto
56th Graduating Class of Hirosima Jogakuin High School before the war Residing in Australia

 I have been living 60 years since that day. Actually, it seems more appropriate to say that I have been given my life. Since the time when I was 13 years old, many elements that were nothing short of miracles contributed to protect my life.
 The Atomic Bomb Dome in the summer a year after the bombing… the Hiroshima Industrial Hall… I immersed myself in drawing sketches of the people covered in wounds, standing on the scorched grounds, as if they had something to say. Looking back, I believe that subconsciously I was preparing for my picture book, My Hiroshima.

 Later I chose to study art and several times expressed my bomb experiences in oil paintings. But the paintings could not compare to the reality of my experience. As soon as the art show closed, the paintings were simply put into storage. They didn't fill the hollowness.
 Fifty years old! It was the turning point of my life. It took me ten years to move to Australia. My son, who had barely turned twenty, knocked on the door of a large publishing company and, as luck would have it, I was introduced to a famous editor-in-chief, Ms. A. I. Life made an unexpected turn and I entered the world of picture-book publishing. Ms. Y, my colleague and friend from my teaching days, used to push me to pass on my A-bomb experience for the next generation.

 She was excited to hear that I was creating a picture book, and she sent me research materials and encouragements. Then, unexpectedly she passed away before I could fulfill my promise to her. I was filled with grief and regret. Finally when I was ready to carry on with my work, Ms. A. I. was there to help me.

 The labor was a painstaking process. I pictured my own body as a model when I drew pictures of female students with skin dangling from their fingertips. I imagined what I may have looked like had I been at the demolition site that day. Most of the time it was impossible to hold back my tears. Ms. Y's death gave me strength. In this manner, the picture book, My Hiroshima was born. The next year I returned to Japan and put the book on Ms. Y's Buddhist altar. I apologized to her from the bottom of my heart that I was unable to complete this book while she was still alive.

 Last year I was giving interviews for the NHK documentary program "Japanese in Far Away Lands." I was shocked to hear the words of the retired editor-in-chief Ms. A. I. She said that she had to fight for the creation of the picture book many times. Many meetings were held, and eventually she had to convince the CEO of the publishing company in London in order to get it published. I had no idea of this process behind the scenes. One of the reasons they didn't want to publish the book was because Japan used to be an enemy country. There was also the sensitive issue of torture of the British and Australian prisoners of war by the Japanese. Ms. A. I. insisted that we, as part of humanity, should teach our children the dreadful effects of the atomic bomb. I was very blessed to have met wonderful people such as her. I was able to bring out a picture book as a surviving witness of the event sixty years ago, thanks to being gifted with my life back then.

 Once again, I give deep gratitude to the invisible but powerful force that kept me alive.

… 73 years old