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About this site

About the Establishment of the English Version

The Asahi Shimbun has launched the English version of its website "Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki-Messages from Hibakusha". The site is a collection of memoirs by A-bomb survivors. As a first step, we have published 200 testimonies. Since launching the Japanese version in November 2010, we have been working at translating hibakusha's first-hand written accounts into English. We believe our initiative to let the world know the reality of A-bomb radiation exposure and the survivors' earnest hope for peace through this English version is highly significant.

In 2005, 60 years after the A-bomb was dropped in 1945, we conducted a survey of the survivors. They sent us messages about their experiences and we also received new memoirs from them afterwards. This website collects those messages and memoirs. Through our survey, we received replies from more than 13,000 survivors. Of these about 6,800 respondents wrote down their A-bomb experiences, or messages for younger people in the space provided for messages on the questionnaire sheets. Wishing to pass on their sincere and precious messages to future generations, the Asahi Shimbun Osaka Head Office decided to set up this website. Hiroshima, ground zero for the first A-bomb, is within the jurisdiction of our Osaka Head Office, so we have accumulated a wealth of experience over many years covering news related to the A-bombing.

With the cooperation of Hiroshima University, we had already established a database with the greater part of the data and messages gathered from our 60th-year-after-the-A-bomb-radiation-exposure survey. We then got to work inputting the remaining material, again in cooperation with Hiroshima University. We sent consent forms to the A-bomb survivors who had written messages on the questionnaire sheets and whose addresses we knew, asking their permission to publish their messages. We obtained approval from more than 1,600 A-bomb victims, or their bereaved families and hundreds of people sent in new messages. We continued to enter their words into computers and, on November 17, 2010, we finally launched our Japanese website. At present, 1,651 messages are collected in the Japanese version.

We then began preparing to establish the English version. We advertised for people to cooperate on our English translation project and, to our great surprise and joy, more than 300 volunteers promptly offered to help. The number of collaborators kept growing and more than 350 people, including English-speaking people who worked as translators and/or proof-readers, have participated in the project.

People joined from countries including the United States, the nation which dropped the bomb in the first place, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, as well as Japan. They shared a strong sense of mission to preserve the messages of the A-bomb victims' and to bring these messages to the world. Greatly supported and encouraged by the dedication of our collaborators, we have finally launched this English version. We are deeply grateful to all the people who worked with us on this translation project.

Barack Obama, President of the United States, the only country in the history of the world to actually use nuclear weapons in war, arrived on the stage and articulated his country's commitment to "seek a world without nuclear weapons." A faint ray of light is shining on the A-bomb survivors' long-cherished wish for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Arms control negotiations between the United States and Russia have achieved some results. Now is the time to strengthen our efforts to abolish nuclear weapons.

Last year the Asahi Shimbun conducted another survey to mark the 65th year since the dropping of the A-bomb. Seventy-six percent of respondents agreed that "the A-bomb survivors' attempts to hand down the stories of their experiences to younger generations will help prevent the use of nuclear weapons." We believe in the power of the testimonies and messages of the A-bomb survivors. We fervently hope that the messages collected here will contribute to the advancement of the efforts not just to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, but also to abolish nuclear weapons completely.

September, 2011
Masataka Watanabe
Managing Editor of Osaka Head Office
     The Asahi Shimbun