Sunday, July 31, 2005

War/Humanitarian Assistance/Nuclear Non-proliferation

Hiroshima at peace

San Francisco Chronicle/San Francisco/CA/USA/31-Jul-05

… Hiroshima's most moving symbols of the bomb, of course, are the 50,000 hibakusha, who, along with their counterparts in Nagasaki, are the only living witnesses to nuclear war. Through the city tourism office, I arranged to spend most of a day speaking with three of them: Michiko Yamaoka, Yoshinori Obayashi and Sakae Okuda, who were 15, 16 and 8 years old, respectively, at the time. (For their stories, see Insight, B1.)

"After the war I hated America," Yamaoka told me. "I hated Japan, too. America was the country that dropped the bomb, and Japan was the country that started the war. When I flew to America for some surgery, I didn't smile at all. But then the Quaker family I was staying with accepted me totally. When they first met me, they said, 'I'm sorry.' I decided right then that I wouldn't hate people, any people. I hate war.

"Now, all these years later, I don't like to remember what happened that day. But I need to keep telling my story so people don't take peace for granted."

Yamaoka's eyes welled up. "Really, I don't hate America," she repeated. "What happened here happened because of war. We have to make sure it never happens again." ...


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