Survivors remember Hiroshima

2010-08-04 11:04

kalahari.com

  • The Amateur
    A gripping read that reveals never before published details about the Obama administration's... Now R321.00
    buy now
Hiroshima – Three days after an atomic bomb devastated Hiroshima, six-year-old Kazuko Uragashira and her parents were aboard an evacuation train out of their charred home city.

Having narrowly survived the nuclear inferno, the family headed for the home of an uncle, not knowing that another date with destiny lay ahead of them. His home town was Nagasaki.

Uragashira remembers sitting on the train, her legs burnt from the radioactive blast, when their train stopped in a tunnel outside Nagasaki after a 300km journey.

"It was another scene from hell," Uragashira, now 71, recalled. They had stumbled into the immediate aftermath of the second atomic bombing in Japan, on August 9 1945.

As the train passengers painstakingly trudged their way through the carnage, she saw survivors with molten skin dripping off their bodies.

"I still remember the smell of charred bodies and the weak screams of the dying, for water... Even if I suffer dementia, I will never forget it," she said.

Uragashira, who now lives on a remote island off Nagasaki, is one of the few remaining "niju hibakusha" – survivors of not one but both US atom bomb attacks on Japan in the final days of World War 2.

Horrible thing

"I was lucky as a lot of others died instantly, but I still want to know why such a horrible thing happened to me twice," she said quietly.

An estimated 140 000 people died instantly in Hiroshima or succumbed to burns and radiation sickness soon after the blast, and over 70 000 perished as a result of the Nagasaki attack three days later.

Friday marks the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

For the first time, the US will send an envoy to a ceremony held each year to remember the bombing, reflecting US President Barack Obama's push for global nuclear disarmament, a campaign long pioneered by Japan.

The US ambassador will be joined by diplomats from Britain and France, while Ban Ki-moon will become the first UN chief to attend the annual event at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

Many in Japan hope Obama will visit Hiroshima later this year.

Friday's ceremony will also commemorate the thousands who survived the blasts but spent their lives living with its after-effects, with many suffering leukaemia and other cancers.

Exposed to both bombs

Around 150 people, like Uragashira, are thought to have been exposed to both bombings.

The only person officially recognised as a survivor of both bombs, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who died in January aged 93, once told an interviewer: "I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me."

Media interest has grown in the double-survivors. Last month, a publisher released the Japanese translation of interviews a New York Times correspondent held with nine of them in the 1950s.

Film director Hidetaka Inazuka has recorded testimonies by double bomb survivors to keep alive their memories.

While many Americans believe the bombs were necessary to bring a speedy end to the war, Inazuka, like many Japanese, argues the attacks – at least the one on Nagasaki – were unwarranted because Japan was on the verge of surrender.

"Hiroshima was completely destroyed, which should have been sufficient," Inazuka said. "We need to strictly verify why they were dropped on the two cities."

Inazuka said the clock is now ticking to record the voices of the survivors, whose average age is above 75, saying: "Their children or grandchildren need to take the baton as we only have 10 years or so left."

Atom bomb survivors

Many single and double "hibakusha" – atom bomb survivors – have long kept silent, fearing discrimination against them or their offspring, but many have now started speaking out about their traumatic memories.

"I didn't tell anyone before that I'm a hibakusha because I thought no one wants to marry a person like me," said another survivor of both attacks, 80-year-old Misako Katani.

"Bodies were everywhere in the city," she said about Hiroshima. "Some were skeletons and others were bloated from the black rain."

She remembers the feel of the ashes of her 14-year-old sister, whose human shape remained recognisable in their charred family home, where the remains of their mother were also found.

Katani was told by her father to bring the ashes to their ancestors' graveyard in Nagasaki, where she was exposed again – a double dose that she said caused her to fall into a three-day coma, bleed and lose her hair.

"The atomic bombings destroyed my life," Katani said.

"I heard that President Obama wants to make a visit, but just a visit doesn't mean much. I hope he will pledge to create a world without nuclear weapons."
Read more on:    barack obama  |  japan
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be in the mood to philosophize and socialize and expand your mind on various discussions and group activities. You could...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.