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From Asahi Shimbun

'The letters from the Hibakusha'
(7) Letter from Minoru Yoshikane


In 1945 Mr Yoshikane was 18 years old and in his first year at the Hiroshima Higher School of Education (now Hiroshima University). On the morning of August 6 he was in a room in a factory 4km from the hypocenter where he was working as a doin-gakuto . It was his first day in the factory and he was listening to the instructions about his work when the flash hit his face. The induction session was suspended and he headed back to the city center with the other students and teachers. After graduation, he taught English for two years in his hometown before moving to Tokyo in 1951. He worked for a TV broadcasting company until his retirement. Since retiring, he has been involved with an A-bomb survivors association. He hopes to be able to attend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York in 2015 when he will be eighty-eight years old. He thinks that this will be his last visit to the U.S.A.

doin-gakuto: pupils and students who worked in factories by the order of Ministry of Education to make up for the shortage of labor in the munitions and food industries between 1938 and the end of the war.

Dear Obachan ,

It has been sixty-five years since we met and I too have now become old, an ojichan2 of eighty-three years. On that day when we met you looked at me, who was marching back to the city center, and shouted "My dear student, please avenge this. Please." You were standing in front of your house that had been completely destroyed. I do not know whether the shock of losing your family as well as your home made you say this, but your voice and words were deeply engraved on my mind. They suddenly come back to me from time to time whenever I am working on something that relates to the U.S.A.

Obachan and ojichan terms of respect for grandmother/old lady and grandfather/old man respectively.

When I was a middle school student, I liked English and would sing old American songs such as "Old Black Joe". In those days people called the Americans and British kichiku (barbarians), but I thought that the people who had written such lovely songs could not be barbarians. People like me who had these thoughts were called unpatriotic or even traitors. English was considered to be the language of our enemies, and English classes were banned at school. However, I still chose to specialize in English at the Hiroshima Higher School of Education. Whilst there, I was sent to work in the Toyo?-kogyo factory at Mukainada. When we met, I was making my way back to my college at Higashi-Chiyoda.

When I heard what you said on that day, my mind went completely blank. I thought "Yes, the Americans and British are the barbarians to have done such a horrible thing to us, and it is true what people say about them." All my earlier thoughts and ideas were shattered in that moment. That was sixty-five years ago. Since that time, I have made use of my limited knowledge of English to help to make programs related to the western world. During the Cold War period, the conflicts between the U.S.A. and the U.K. on one side and the U.S.S.R and China on the other were at times very serious. Many broadcasting companies reported the U.S.A./U.K. position more favorably, but I tried to be as neutral as I could because, from time to time, I remembered your words. I severely criticized the actions of the U.S.A in the Vietnam War, and in 2001 I heard your voice once again. This time very clearly. It was on September 11 when the World Trade Center in New York was attacked by the some young Arab men. I knew, because I had covered the troubles in the Middle East, how much some Arabs hate the U.S.A for their support of Israel. They wanted revenge for the Arab-Israeli conflicts. The pictures of the demolished skyscrapers reminded me of the thoughts of revenge that had come into my head when you had spoken to me on that day. However, many people, especially the U.S.A, did not see the attack as revenge, but said that it was an unprecedented terrorist attack. President Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to take vengeance on the terrorists. A revenge for a revenge. This can only result in an endless circle of vicious retaliation.

Obachan, we Hibakusha do not wish to see this kind of foolish behavior. How can I avenge Hiroshima? I think that the only way to do so will be to abolish the atomic bombs that not only took away your family, but which also destroyed everything in Hiroshima. You may think, Obachan, that it will be impossible to do such a thing, but I will continue to campaign for the abolition of atomic weapons for as long as I shall live. The destruction of the atomic bomb will be my revenge. Please support us from your grave Obachan, and let us work hard together and take vengeance on that day.