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From Asahi Shimbun

Japanese version

'Towards a Nuclear-Free World
    From Japan:
         Thoughts from a Country Hit by Nuclear Bombs - 2012'(2)

Treasure People's Lives Above All Else
By Kyoko Heya, Film art director


On August 5 and 6 in 2005, 60 years after the atomic bombings, my friends and I organized "A Little Exhibition of Shadow Picture Prayers" in Hiroshima. The event took place near the Peace Memorial Park and exhibited shadow pictures of old city scenes. It was intended to be a one-off exhibition, but encouragement from many people eventually made it an annual event; starting this year, local high school students are taking the initiative in organizing it.

During my childhood in the 1960s, many A-bomb survivors were living together in tenements across Hiroshima. Every summer, a long list of names of those survivors who had passed away that year was read out on the radio.

I later moved to Tokyo to start university, and after graduation I entered the world of films. There was no space for Hiroshima or the atomic bombings in my mind; my life was filled with films.

My thinking began to change when I participated in filming "Women in the Mirror" in 2002. The film depicts women who face their own past experiences of the atomic bombing. It made me think about the mission of a person from Hiroshima.

This spring I organized in Hiroshima a film show of works by Kaneto Shindo, a film director from Hiroshima whose masterpieces include "Children of Hiroshima." Mr. Shindo passed away soon after the event, but I will continue my appeal to a wider audience to convey to them the fascination of his films.

My mother witnessed the mushroom-shaped cloud from the explosion of the A-bomb from across Hiroshima Bay on Nomi Island (in present-day Etajima City). I remembered this when I saw a photo of smoke coming out of the ravaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Now we face the issue of restarting the suspended Oi nuclear plant. Even though we must be giving priority to protecting people's lives, there still seems to be some fundamental, crucial mistake.

There are many people in this country today who cannot say what they really want, or who are indifferent about society. However, I believe now is the time for us to change our ways of thinking. As people who will live on into the future, we must be determined to treasure people's lives above all else. Surely this is also what Mr. Shindo wanted to convey through his films.


Born in Hiroshima, Kyoko Heya is a film art director who has twice won the Japan Academy Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction for the films "Shall We Dance?" and "Soredemo Boku wa Yattenai" ("I Just Didn't Do It"). She was also involved in making the films "Yogisha X no Kenshin" ("The Devotion of Suspect X") and "Team Batista no Eiko" ("The Glorious Team Batista").

(This was compiled through an interview by Yohei Goto.)