Sharing A-bomb accounts via the Internet

by Junichiro Hayashi, Staff Writer

"Group to convey the spirit of Hiroshima," a citizens' group led by Miyoko Matsubara, is embarking on an effort to communicate A-bomb accounts through the Internet. With A-bomb survivors aging, the effort will enable survivors to recount their experiences without putting a heavy burden on their bodies.

Ms. Matsubara, 77, is an A-bomb survivor who has shared her experience of the atomic bombing with young people in Japan and in other countries using a teleconferencing system at universities and other sites in Hiroshima. In 2006 she suffered a stroke and this past March was treated surgically for stomach cancer. She is naturally concerned about her health.

Katsumi Sasaki, 34, an associate professor in the graduate school of Hiroshima City University, and Chieko Kanda, an office worker in Hiroshima, proposed the idea of conveying A-bomb accounts via computer. "It's now time to engage in an effort fit for the Internet age," they said.

The group members have attached web cameras and microphones to their computers and, using a paid service, hold meetings over the Internet. On the evening of July 14, the group tested an Internet link between Ms. Matsubara's home and Akatsuki Elementary School in the city of Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture. Ms. Matsubara has maintained an exchange with the school for more than 10 years and she will share her A-bomb account through the Internet link in August. Ms. Matsubara seemed pleased and said, "This way, it won't be a burden on my body. It's our new attempt to expand the circle of people who seek peace."

On August 10, Ms. Matsubara will relate her A-bomb experience to 80 fifth grade students at Akatsuki Elementary School and field questions from them. The group is also looking into the possibility of conveying A-bomb accounts via Skype, a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet for free.

(Originally published on July 16, 2010)