Manga artist Keiji Nakazawa speaks about the anti-nuclear spirit of "Barefoot Gen"

by Yuki Kuwata, Staff Writer

On February 14, Keiji Nakazawa, 70, author of the "Barefoot Gen" manga series and a Hiroshima native who now lives in Saitama Prefecture, delivered a lecture at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. An audience of about 300 people listened to Mr. Nakazawa speak about his A-bomb experience and the wish for peace imbued in his works.

Mr. Nakazawa was 6 years old when he experienced the atomic bombing near the back gate of the former Kanzaki Elementary, located 1.2 kilometers southwest of the hypocenter. His mother was also exposed to the bombing and died in 1966. Her cremated skull was so fragile that, he said, "I was infuriated at the atomic bomb, even depriving me of my mother's bones. I thought I would put all my energy into speaking out about the atomic bombing through manga."

He also touched on the plot for Part 2 of the "Barefoot Gen" series, which he was forced to give up drawing due to cataracts. Relating his experience of facing discrimination as an A-bomb survivor, he then addressed the audience, saying, "Please imagine what sort of life Gen, who had gone to Tokyo at the end of Part 1, led there."

Mr. Nakazawa concluded his speech by saying, "The elimination of nuclear weapons is not something someone else will do for us. Each one of us must put forth the effort to realize nuclear abolition."

The lecture was organized by Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Kaito Kakimura, 10, a fourth grader at Minami Elementary School in Minami Ward, Hiroshima, said, "I will think about why there are wars."

(Originally published on February 15, 2010)

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