ELIMINATE NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND SAVE THE WORLD
Editor’s Note: Hibakusha, literally meaning “explosion-affected people” are survivors of nuclear bombing in Japan during World War II (1939-1945). It was in August 6, 1945 when the first atomic bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and three days later in Nagasaki. The explosions literally leveled the two cities. Hundreds of thousands instantly vanished and burned to death and thousands more would later die from radiation. The following is a testimony of Professor Sueichi Kido, a Hibakusha from Gifu City, Japan given at St. James Episcopal Church, Elmhurst, New York on May 3, 2015. The informative event was hosted by the Metropolitan Japanese Ministry (MJM) in New York, a member of Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries Network. – Fred Vergara
Photos: Public file photos of the bombing victims and devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and photos of Professor Kido with Asian members of St. James Episcopal Church, Elmhurst, New York. 5/3/2015 )
My name is Sueichi Kido. I was only five years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Seventy years have passed. Looking back on those years, I realize that I have three significant moments as a Hibakusha (a-bomb survivor).
The first moment was on the 9th of August 1945 when I was exposed to the A-bomb, and the second moment came in 1952 when I realized I was a Hibakusha. The third moment came in 1991, when I became involved in the Hibakusha movement and started learning a way of life as a Hibakusha.
When the A-bomb was dropped, I was with my mother and neighbors on the street in front of my house, two kilometers away from the blast center. I heard the roaring sound of a bomber. One of our neighbors said, “Only American planes can sound that loud.” As I look up in the direction of the sound of the airplane, I saw a brilliant flash, and I was blown more than twenty meters away by the strong blast. I immediately lost consciousness. My mother carried me in her arms, fleeing to an air-raid shelter on Mount Inasa. My mother’s face and chest were burned, but I do not remember what she looked like then at all, which is very strange.
Half of my face was also burned. There were so many injured in and around the shelter and I could hear them groaning. My brother’s friend was brought in but he passed away shortly from burns over his entire body.
On the following day, we took a road that passed by ground zero to Michinoon. To carry us they laid my mother on a plank of wood from a door and put me in a basket. The houses were all burned down and the streets and rivers were full of bodies. Many were dead. There were some who were alive. They were begging for water but there was nothing we could do.
The next day, I had a high fever of about 40 degrees Celsius and started experiencing symptoms of radiation sickness like bleeding gums. I was not aware of what was happening at all. I was weak, feeling scared at all times. I learned later that there was a gag order to keep the atomic bombings secret.
When the US occupation of Japan ended in 1952, the gag order on the A-bomb was lifted and the pictures of the damage caused were released. I was terribly shocked to realize I was a Hibakusha. I started feeling anxiety, thinking that I was going to die from leukemia and that I should not have children. I was even told to hide the truth that I was exposed to the A-bomb from anyone outside of Hiroshima or Nagasaki. I did not mean to hide it but I could not share my story with other people, not even with my close friends from Junior High and High School.
I was still in school when I first spoke of my experience and it took a lot of courage to do so. I got married in 1973. My wife decided to marry me knowing that I was a Hibakusha. I was so relieved when she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
In 1991, the Gifu A-bomb Victims association was founded as a result of our coordinated efforts. With this beginning, I became a member of Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A-and-H Bomb Sufferers Organization) and started to get involved in the Hibakusha Movement. Since then, I have been learning what it means to live as a Hibakusha and as a person.
Hidankyo was founded with the aim “to save humanity from its crisis through the lessons learned from our experience, while at the same time saving ourselves.” Since its foundation, we have been calling for “No More Hibakusha,” despite our poor health.
We have been calling for the prevention of nuclear war and the elimination of nuclear weapons and demanding state compensation. This goal had not been accomplished yet but we are committed to building a strong campaign to prevent us from making the same mistake again. That is our mission as Hibakusha rooted in history.
Many Hibakusha have devoted untiring efforts to fulfill their mission by talking about their experiences and wishes at home and abroad despite their old age and ill health.
Hibakusha don’t have much time left. As one of them, I am determined to dedicate the rest of my life to sharing my experience; the life and death of Hibakusha and the goals of our movement to keep reminding people around the world.
What happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki teaches us that if we use nuclear power as a weapon again, it will destroy the whole of humankind. I sincerely wish that people around the world would recognize what a nuclear bomb really brought us and they will listen and take action to save the world.
No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki! No more war! No more Hibakusha!