Photo/Illutration Teruko Yahata tells about her experiences about the atomic bombing before members of the International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons in Hiroshima City on December 10. (Photo by Jun Ueda)

Ms. Teruko Yahata, now 85, was exposed to the atomic bomb at her home when she was 8. In 2013, she joined the Peace Boat’s around-the-world cruise to meet people in various places and spoke about her experiences at ports of call. The voyage strengthened her desire to abolish nuclear weapons. She thought, “There is a precious daily life under each roof.”

Ms. Yahata thinks that what is occurring in Ukraine after Russia’s invasion is not someone else’s business. What she experienced at the age of 8 comes back through her five senses--the tragedies she witnessed, voices of people suffering in pain and the stench of rotting bodies. She thinks the world is facing a tough choice under threats of nuclear weapons. “Everyone on the planet may choose to live together hand in hand. Or human beings could go extinct, and life on Earth should begin again from amoeba.” She hopes for a resolution through dialogue.

Ms. Yahata has told about her experiences of the atomic bombing to visitors at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and elsewhere since 2019. She has recently taken on a new challenge. She hopes to tell about her experiences directly to people from overseas in English by memorizing translated scripts of her accounts.

“Through my own voice, I want to convey how keenly those who perished in the atomic bombing longed to live and how much pain and suffering they experienced.” She is practicing English and looking forward to opportunities to speak on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit to be held in Hiroshima City in May 2023.

(This article was written by Shohei Okada and Hana Matsuo.)

Visit The Asahi Shimbun’s “Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Messages from Hibakusha” website to read the original article about Teruko Yahata, “We Feel the Same Way toward Our Loved Ones.”

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Editor’s note: Amid growing concerns that Russia might use nuclear weapons following its invasion of Ukraine, the first meeting of the International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons was held in Hiroshima on December 10 and 11. Experts from both nuclear states and non-nuclear states brought together wisdom beyond their countries’ respective positions.

Hibakusha atomic bomb survivors are deeply troubled by the current severe situation surrounding nuclear weapons. They lost their families and friends in an instant and have suffered from diseases for many years. Based on such experiences, hibakusha are trying to convey the horrors of nuclear weapons.

In “So tell me… about Hiroshima,” a series of stories running in The Asahi Shimbun’s Hiroshima edition, many survivors recount their experiences. Asahi Shimbun reporters recently met with some of them to hear what they think and feel. Their words from the recent interviews are posted along with previous articles.

Teruko Yahata, third from left in the front row, entered a national elementary school one year before the atomic bombing, which killed most of her classmates. (Photo courtesy of Teruko Yahata)