Handing down experiences of the atomic bombing Training for ninth group of memory keepers begins in Hiroshima No applicants to share A-bomb experience, for first time

by Kyoko Niiyama, Staff Writer

The training for the ninth group of applicants for A-bomb legacy successors began on October 1. They will go through a three-year training provided by the City of Hiroshima before they become memory keepers of the atomic bombing. They city also invited A-bomb survivors to share their experiences of the atomic bombing, but there were no applicants in fiscal 2020, which has never happened since the city government launched the program in fiscal 2012. This reflects the aging of A-bomb survivors.

The training session was held at JMS Aster Plaza in Naka Ward, and 32 out of the 42 applicants participated. Yukimi Dohi, a curator at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, gave a lecture on damages to buildings caused by the bomb’s heat rays and blast as well as aftereffects of exposure to radiation. “I hope you acquire basic knowledge before trying to understand survivors’ feelings,” said Ms. Dohi.

Due to the novel corona virus pandemic, the training started four months later than in the past, which makes the training schedule tighter. They will have eight sessions before the end of this month. They will learn from a doctor and a professor at the graduate school of Hiroshima University and listen to the accounts of 12 survivors who help the training.

The members of the ninth group are between their 20s and 70s and come from eight prefectures. Fifteen are second- or third-generation survivors. Makoto Yoshikawa, 65, a resident of Higashi Ward and representative of an NPO, said, “My mother went through the atomic bombing. I hope to convey how cruel the atomic bombing was as well as how she hoped for peace.” The training system for A-bomb memory keepers was initiated in fiscal 2012. Currently 150 people tell stories at the museum and other places.

Currently, 19 A-bomb survivors are active in sharing their experiences after going through a two-year training. Their average age is 85.55. There were 45 and 37 members in fiscal 2018 and 2019 respectively, but the number has been sharply decreasing. Ayumi Inada, manager in charge of the A-bomb experience preservation, said, “Some of the survivors have died and others have been in the hospital. Besides, COVID-19 has given a serious impact on recruiting members this fiscal year.”

(Originally published on October 2, 2020)