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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"


What I want to tell my grandchildren


I turned 54 in 1995. My hair is grey, as if I had put some make-up powder on it. My daughter Takae is 28, with three children. The eldest of my grandchildren is in the first grade. Once when we were taking a bath together, she asked me, "Grandpa, your tummy and legs are so ugly. What happened?" "Risa, when you become a junior-high student, I will tell you." I replied.

My second daughter, Satomi, who used to live in Tochigi, now lives in Nagasaki with two children. Something difficult must have happened in Tochigi. She does not tell me about that. My younger grandchildren, when they are 4 or 5, will surely ask me, "What happened to your ugly legs?" I will reply each time that when they are old enough to understand, I will tell them.

My son Hidehiro is 21. I would finish what I have to do when I see him get married. I hope to survive until I can tell all of my grandchildren how I lived.

I have been in hardships many times. Each time, I said to myself, "Cheer up, Hidetaka. Things are better than the past. Remember? Elementary school days were much harder." Now, I am happy with my family, my friends in Nagasaki and Tokyo. I feel happy when I am drinking and smoking alone at home. My friends sometimes say, "Komine, you have come through all your hardship with your amazing patience." I often reply that I was not the only one who made it. I can honestly say that I would not have done much without their help.

If I have another chance to speak to my divorced wife, I think I can thank her for having borne the three children.

We often hear people say that the government leaders cannot see anything about the general public. Politicians may not be trying to see things. Hibakusha have asked for protection and support. What was enacted as a Hibakusha protection law, the year before last, ignored some of the most important points that we had demanded. The Constitution states that people have the right to minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living. What are the minimum standards of cultured living? Many Hibakusha, particularly women, were deprived of the chance to get married. After their parents die, some live with their brothers or sisters. Many have to work despite their sickness. When I visit a Hibakusha, we often have to talk outside, because many Hibakusha feel small among other family members. There are others who live alone. When I visit them, we often talk for hours and hours, as they feel lonely every day. As Mr. Ishida wrote in his book, "Hundreds of thousands of Hibakusha have been suffering in hundreds of thousands of different ways. We must keep trying to grasp the whole picture of what a nuclear attack means, based on every detail of what we learn from their stories."

Not only Hibakusha, but also many other Japanese, and other nationals, were victimized by the war that the national leaders started. Can they hear us? Can they see us at all? Politicians and their collaborators are often incapable of understanding anything.

In 30 years or so, all those who directly suffered from the World War II will have died out. If someone orders us to endure everything and to try not to see, hear or speak out about anything until we die, can we call him a human being?

I do not think that the war Japan started more than 50 years ago has ended. We still need to uncover a number of facts about the war and the sufferers, including the "comfort women" for soldiers. We cannot say that it is over until the government admits their responsibility, and all the sufferers are well compensated.