In a paper titled “Learning From Hiroshima’s Reconstruction Experience,” published as I reported for the Hiroshima Reconstruction and Peacebuilding Research Project in 2014, I wrote about Hiroshima’s reconstruction and citizens’ lives, and coverage of the atomic bombing. In the report, I didn’t refer to the history of a-bomb orphans. As an excuse, I said that I didn’t have enough space. I thought that I was not in a position to speak about it lightly, because each time I met those who had remained silent, I was shocked by what they managed to say.
The reason why I reported on it was that I wanted to convey a part of a-bomb orphans’ experience which could not be completely told. I also wanted to pass down a record which had not been recorded in history books, and which had been ignored. Upon reflection, I will write here that the media have largely not reported about the a-bomb experiences of people who are unwilling to talk about it.
Finally, I would like to introduce the words of a second-generation of Japanese-American who was exposed to radiation at the age of 15 and lost both parents and an elder sister and returned to America after graduating from Hiroshima Ichi High School (present-day Hiroshima Kokutaichi High School). This person became a seasonal contractor at a farm in California and also served in the U.S. army. After making friends in Hiroshima, he moved to the city and visited Peace Memorial Park instead of visiting his family’s graves. His former residence had been located near the spot where the cenotaph for a-bomb victims stands today.
“When I was discouraged in America, my parents appeared in my dream. I decided to live until the sum of my mother’s age and my father’s age. Now, I am past that age, but I will feel peaceful when I meet my parents in heaven,” he said calmly.
Hiroshima rose from the ashes and developed. Thanks to the endless efforts of its citizens, the city has become a metropolis of 1.9 million residents. However, the extremity of the experiences and the untold feelings of the people who survived the terrible days after the atomic bombing are now recognized. When I heard the heavy expression of the second-generation Japanese American that he would achieve peace after he died, I felt the pain and the burden of human recovery. The war and the atomic bomb forced people to face this pain and this burden.