A-bomb survivor relates experience of the bombing at nuclear abolition conference

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

At the "Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020," an event co-sponsored by Mayors for Peace and the City of Hiroshima which opened on July 28 at the International Conference Center Hiroshima, A-bomb survivor Keijiro Matsushima, 81, shared his experience of the atomic bombing to the participants, from both Japan and abroad. His appeal that nuclear abolition is an undertaking which everyone should make efforts for was met with loud applause.

Mr. Matsushima experienced the bombing at the age of 16 in a building of the Hiroshima Technical Institute (now, the Faculty of Engineering at Hiroshima University), roughly 2 kilometers from the hypocenter. He began his account by saying that Hiroshima has been rebuilt into a beautiful city, but it was once a burnt wasteland. He then went on to describe the bombing: a serene morning in summer was instantly turned into hell by the powerful blast, the shock wave, and the heat rays. In even tones, he said that he suffered a high fever and diarrhea in the aftermath of the bombing, effects from the bomb's radiation, though it was a miracle he sustained only slight injuries.

Feelings of anger and bitterness toward the United States, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, never really disappear, he said, but he has no intention of blaming the country for its wartime acts. Mr. Matsushima called for as many Americans as possible to visit Hiroshima and learn about the true impact of the atomic bombing. Nuclear abolition should be everyone's undertaking, he said, a comment which brought spirited applause.

Randy Rydell, 57, of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs said that he was moved by Mr. Matsushima's ability to overcome the tragedy he experienced and make efforts for nuclear abolition.

(Originally published on July 29, 2010)