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2009年8月 7日 (金)

記者の目:被爆64年の広島 私は黙り込んだ=井上梢

(Mainichi Japan) August 6, 2009
Serving as a bridge to spread the message of the atomic bombing
記者の目:被爆64年の広島 私は黙り込んだ=井上梢

"You don't need to tell anybody my feelings -- the message isn't getting through," the 49-year-old doctor, a second-generation atomic-bomb survivor, told me.

When I heard these words during my coverage of the medical treatment of atomic-bomb diseases, I could do nothing but remain silent.

This summer, 64 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, U.S. President Barack Obama's declaration on aiming for the elimination of nuclear weapons has provided a new ray of hope.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba and the Hiroshima confederation of organizations supporting A- and H-bomb sufferers have supported his stance.

In addition, seven groups supporting atomic-bomb survivors, or hibakusha, have sent letters to Obama and are hoping that he will visit Hiroshima.
They hope to convey their feelings directly and add momentum to the move to eliminate nuclear weapons.

But when I visited the 49-year-old doctor during my reporting on medical treatment of people suffering from atomic-bomb diseases in June this year, he told me he couldn't find any meaning in conveying messages about the atomic bombing, adding that he told his son, "I don't think I'll share my thoughts on the atomic bombing. It should end with my generation."

The doctor's mother suffered burns on her back during the atomic bombing, and her shoulder blade showed through her thinned skin, he said.

His father suffered from a condition common to many atomic-bomb survivors that brought on a feeling of fatigue.

At the time, when the atomic bombing was not recognized as the cause of such illnesses, many hibakusha were labeled lazy. まだ原爆の影響と認められなかった当時、多くの被爆者が怠け者とみなされた。

The doctor's father quit his company job and opened a bar.

He often felt unwell and the doctor, from when he was young, helped out at the business. When he spilled drinks he was hit relentlessly by customers.

The mere sight of photographs of Hiroshima at the time of the bombing made the doctor's father throw up.

"There was something sad about seeking life's simple daily pleasures but not being able to attain them," the doctor says. "That's something I can't convey."

After becoming a doctor and seeing hibakusha die from cancer and other illnesses, that feeling only grew stronger.

It has been four years since I was first assigned to work in Hiroshima.

Many times hibakusha have told me, "You don't understand," but they have quickly changed their minds and carefully shared their feelings with me.

However this doctor simply adopted an attitude of detachment.

I felt a gap that seemed impossible to bridge.

Still at a loss about what to do, I headed to Hawaii to visit 60-year-old second-generation hibakusha Hiromi Peterson, who teaches Japanese at the school Obama attended and is also involved in peace education.

Peterson's grandfather died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and her father also suffered major burns. When she decided to marry an American and move to Hawaii, her grandmother cried in opposition, and her grandmother never saw her husband up until the time she died. Her sister died from leukemia at the relatively young age of 62.

When teaching Japanese, Peterson thought that her students should learn about the point where Japan and the United States met, and what she had to show them was the atomic bombing. She produced a textbook recounting her family's experiences and used it in her lessons. At first, many students said that the atomic-bombing was justified, but in the end, about half the class came to the conclusion that the bomb shouldn't have been dropped. Now the textbook is used across the United States.

Looking at Peterson, who was conveying the terror of the atomic bombing in the land that is home to Pearl Harbor, a place holding special meaning for America, I felt her strength. Her words, "I won't let them say, 'That never happened,'" came at a time when I was feeling discouraged, and stirred up in me a renewed belief that it was important to convey the message of the bombing.

For a year and a half I have interviewed hibakusha who have risked their lives and continued to spread the message of the atomic bombing. One of them is 86-year-old Suzuko Numata, who says she was taught to live from the example of a Chinese parasol tree that was hit by the atomic bombing but returned to life. Though she now spends most of her time in bed due to illness, twice a month she continues to give talks to students who visit the home for the elderly where she lives.

When I visited her after the nuclear test by North Korea in May, she had a hollow look in her eyes.
"We've been saying nuclear weapons should never be used, and now this," she said, moving her head as she spoke even though it would hurt her weakened backbone. In the past she had told me, "I want hibakusha in North Korea to speak out and stop the nuclear tests." I wondered if such a thing was possible, but it was a case of believing in the power of conveying a message.

Still, I worried about whether I could carry out the role of introducing the words of hibakusha to the world. I have always written articles on the assumption that I am conveying hibakushas' messages to the friends I had as a student. I want to serve as a bridge and have the same generation, which had no interest in the atomic bombing, think about the issues.

At the beginning of August, I visited the doctor once again. I asked him why he had agreed to meet me when he didn't want to convey a message in the first place.

"I'm not completely without a feeling of wanting to convey a message. It comes down to whether you can convey my feelings in writing. It's an experiment and a written challenge," he said.

Behind the Hiroshima that uses anger and sadness as energy in its push to eliminate nuclear weapons, there are people who still swallow their feelings. Needless to say, it is difficult to understand the feelings inside people's hearts and convey them. But I believe that I can listen with simple honesty, and convey something, albeit to a small extent. At the same time, in my own way, I want to find the real answer for the doctor. ("As I See It," by Kozue Inoue, Hiroshima Bureau)

毎日新聞 2009年8月6日 0時01分


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« 裁判員判決 検証の積み重ねが欠かせない | トップページ | 被爆64年―「非核の傘」を広げるとき »