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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"

Autobiography of Mr. Komine

    Tadashi Ishida, Professor Emeritus of Hitotsubashi University

I was so impressed by Mr. Komine's autobiography.

For 50 years, since he was hit by the atomic bomb at 4 years and 8 months, he has lived a Hibakusha's life.

In 1984, the Japan Confederation of A-and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations wrote in its official demand to the government that "Hibakusha's pain resides in the fact of being a Hibakusha." Mr. Komine writes that he cried many times while writing this book.

However, he writes, "I do not want sympathy or comfort. I hope to keep telling people, through this book, that I never want to see a new victim of a nuclear attack on the earth."

And he concludes that "we cannot think about real peace on earth until nuclear weapons are eliminated."

Therefore, this book shows us a record of a man's sublimation, the process by which a boy was destined by the atomic bomb to grow into a real thinker.

The atomic bomb burned the little boy in his undershorts only. His right ankle especially was badly deformed. It did not look like a human foot. People wondered if he would be able to walk.

He began to try. However, he writes, "my right ankle did not bend. If I tried to move it, the keloid scar would often tear and bleed. I always had to be careful not to move my right ankle. Therefore, I walked leftward only, by pulling my right foot toward my left foot."

He became capable of walking straight forward when he was in the 4th grade. However, he writes, "Only my big toe touches the ground successfully; the other four toes are still lifted."

Mr. Komine was wounded not only physically. He experienced the fear of death when he was very small. He observed that "normal and healthy-looking A-bomb victims began dying, one after another" he was afraid that he, with half his body burned, would not survive.

Classmates laughed at him, because he had to walk sideways with a stick.

"Rotten leg," "bird's foot" and "crab," they nicknamed him. One teacher showed him human compassion. He hated another teacher who laughed at him, saying "You walk like a crab!" He was beginning to learn how difficult it was to survive as a Hibakusha.

Later, finding a job was also difficult because he was a Hibakusha. Someone he loved went away after learning that he was Hibakusha.

It is no wonder that he cried in his heart, "To hell with my destiny as a Hibakusha!" Mr. Komine learned that many Hibakusha live miserably, and that the hardship continues as long as they live.

Therefore, he had to face the issue of atomic bombs. There was no other way out.

Then he began to see that "Not only Hibakusha, but also many other Japanese, and other nationals, had been victimized by the war that the national leaders had started…. In 30 years or so, all those still living who have suffered directly from World War II will have passed away. If someone orders us to endure everything, and try not to see, hear or speak out about anything until we die, can we call that person a human being?"

The government tells the victims to endure, which tortures Hibakusha. I believe that that is what Mr. Komine means to say.