Hiroko Kishira was 6 years old when, on 6th August 1945, Hiroshima was the target of the world’s first atomic bomb attack. Today she tells us about what she lived through, with the same pain she felt that day.
Nara María Romero
Kishira tells us that she was living 7km from the site of the explosion and that she was in the bath at home at 0815 local time when, looking up at the sky due to the constant sound of planes above, she felt a rumble and everything went dark.
Some time went by – a period that the now elderly lady still doesn’t know how to describe – but she states that when she came to, her entire body was covered with dirt. She explains to the Prensa Latina during a tour of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum that it was thanks to this that she didn’t suffer the effects of the radiation caused by the atomic bomb.
Her mother rescued her and they decided to abandon their now-destroyed home to look for her older brother who was at school. They found him 13 days later, but they had had to leave behind her disabled grandfather, who she never saw again.
Kishira tells us that the clear sky that day combined with the topography of Hiroshima were important factors. They ensured that when the B-29 bomber, known as ‘Enola Gay’, released the atomic bomb, on exploding it would kill tens of thousands of people in one instant and the ground temperature would reach 4 thousand degrees centigrade.
The city completely destroyed, the black rain that came following the explosion, the deaths and the serious injuries of those who survived also came flooding back to the pensioner’s mind.
“The average age of those of us who survived is now 80 years old. As not everyone wants to talk about what happened I decided to give talks to the young people who come here so that they might know what happened and make sure that nothing ever happens like this again”, Kishira tells us.
She adds that many people ask her if she feels anger and she tells them no, because the pain that her town suffered gave them the strength to rebuild Hiroshima and to show the world what it’s like now; a beautiful and prosperous city.
The journey also hasn’t been easy due to the discrimination the survivors faced; even when it came to getting married people were worried that we were sick and that we’d pass on the effects of radiation to our children, Kishira explains.
In addition, she implores the younger generations to seek solutions to their problems without having to go to war, for the deaths and the pain it leaves behind in the towns and cities only demonstrates the complete lack of humanity of those who cause it.
At present, the Japanese government provides two free health check-ups each year for all survivors of the A-bomb.
A world without nuclear weapons
Japan has become one of the world leaders in coming up with initiatives to rid the world of nuclear weapons; their towns having survived the awful consequences of their use in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Amongst the actions taken to achieve nuclear disarmament is the organisation of international negotiation talks between countries that possess these type of weapons and those that do not, to highlight the impact of their use and to allow international discussions on the issue.
During the eighth ministerial Non-proliferation and Disarmament meeting, which took place in Hiroshima in April 2014, the Australian, German and Dutch ambassadors heard testimony from survivors of the atomic bomb.
The Japanese city also held the G7 summit of foreign ministers in April 2016 where representatives from the USA, UK and France, – countries that currently do posses nuclear weapons – together with other nations such as Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, visited the A-bomb dome.
The event was to mark the establishment of the Hiroshima Declaration regarding disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, which concluded with the statement: We deeply hope, as the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that nuclear weapons will never be used again. (PL)
(Translated by Eleanor Gooch)