Where were you when you were five years old? Perhaps at school or playing a game with some friends, but what if you remembered your whole world being turned upside-down by destruction?
On Aug. 6, 1945 this was the reality for many Japanese civilian—men, women and children—after an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. While the bomb was dropped 68 years ago, it is still affecting the Japanese citizens of today.
The World Friendship Center in Hiroshima visited Linfield Sept. 23, and spoke to a full Ice auditorium. The WFC brought 16 team members to share their knowledge, four of which told their side of the bombing and how it affected their lives.
First to speak was Soh Horie. At five years old, Horie thought nothing of his afternoon walk around the neighborhood with his 15-year-old sister. That is, until they were disrupted by a “very bright light with [a] big sound, that almost blew [him] away.”
Another vivid memory of the bombing for Horie was the elementary school only 100 meters from his home being turned into a cremation site.
The physical damage the bomb had done was only half of the trauma Horie had to endure. Six days after the bomb, his father died, while over time the rest of his family -including himself- developed some sort of cancer.
The second speaker of the night was Michiko Nishida, who told the story of her mother, who could not travel with the group due to her age and health.
Nishida’s mother, now 87 years old, her four siblings and herself were all close when the bomb went off.
Like Horie, Nishida remembers seeing a flash of light followed by a loud noise.
Nishida has lost each of her siblings to different cancer and her mother has faced multiple ailments to the point to where she can no longer walk without assistance.
“I really am lucky to have lived such a long life,” Nishida said. “Hiroshima was the first place attacked by the atom [bomb], but now it is my wish for everlasting peace throughout the world.”
The last two speakers were not from Hiroshima, but both talk on the lasting affect of those in Japan today.
Akiko Awa studied the damage caused by nuclear power and the radiation it causes for years to come.
Awa said that many who did not have direct contact with the bomb were affected. Those who were within a 34-kilometer radius of the bomb’s hyper-center were exposed to radiation and within the first kilometer of the center were lethal.
Awa also told the story of a young actress, who was visiting and entertaining an army camp.
The actress was close to the center, but was not seriously injured and managed to escape any harm by hiding in the river. When she went to the hospital for help, it was crowded and it was evident that she would not be getting help anytime soon.
This lead the actress to take a train back to her home in Tokyo and get help there. However she died on Aug. 26, 1945, she was one of the first cases documented for radiation sickness.
Awa also explained other cases similar to Hiroshima, while not to the scale, but did the similar damage. Events such as the hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific Ocean and the deterioration of nuclear power plants in Russia, display Awa’s desire to rid the world of all nuclear power.
The final speaker of the night was Shoko Iishii. Touching on similar topics as Awa, Iishii also would like to see the end of nuclear power.
“There is no peaceful use of nuclear energy,” Iishii said. “So, what is the solution to nuclear energy? I would like it if no one used nuclear energy and there were no more nuclear power plants.”
The event was hosted by JoAnn Sims, Linfield adjunct professor, honorary Linfield trustee, Larry Sims and the Linfield PLACE program, which is still focused on the theme of the “Legacy of War.”
Kaylyn Peterson / Managing editor
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin Heltsley/Freelance photographer
Shoko Iishii and her translator tell audience members of the damage nuclear
energy has caused in Japan on Sept. 23 in Ice auditorium.