Voices of A-bomb survivors: Keiko Ogura, resident of Naka Ward, Hiroshima

by Sakiko Masuda, Staff Writer

Hoping for courage and determination to advance nuclear abolition

Keiko Ogura was 8 when she experienced the atomic bombing on a street near her house, about 2.4 kilometers from the hypocenter. She has served as an interpreter and a coordinator for overseas peace activists visiting Hiroshima and regularly speaks in English about her A-bomb experience.

The visit to Hiroshima by a sitting U.S. president, even just setting foot on the soil of Hiroshima, is a very big step for the abolition of nuclear weapons. I want to thank President Obama for making this courageous decision despite those in the United States who are critical of his visit.

I hope the president will stand in front of the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims in the Peace Memorial Park as an individual acting on his own. The area in which the park now lies was originally the heart of the city and thousands of people there were killed by the atomic bomb. The ashes of the remains of approximately 70,000 unidentified atomic bomb victims are held beneath the ground in the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound. The horror of the atomic bomb, the grief and lament of the A-bomb survivors and victims, I’d like the president to hear our voices and feel our pain. I would then like him to consider what he can do next as the president of the United States.

Visiting Hiroshima often changes people’s perspective. This is because they come to realize that the tragedy that took place in Hiroshima must never occur again and for that purpose they must act in good conscience.

Unfortunately, the global conditions involving nuclear weapons have not changed much since President Obama gave his speech about nuclear arms in Prague. What we desire is not just a reduction in nuclear arms, but the total elimination of nuclear weapons from the world. This is what the A-bomb survivors have long yearned for as they struggled to overcome their hatred, grief, and pain. I sincerely hope that President Obama, who has great influence in the world, will lead this planet toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. I hope, from his visit in Hiroshima, that he will feel strong courage and determination to advance nuclear abolition.

Mr. Obama’s slogan has been “Change.” My hope is that, after his visit to Hiroshima, there will be a change in the movement for abolishing nuclear arms. And after he returns to the United States, I hope he will appeal to young Americans to follow in his footsteps and visit Hiroshima.

(Originally published on May 16, 2016)