Accounts of A-bomb survivors in the U.S. to be filmed

by Yoshiaki Kido, Staff Writer

The National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, located in Naka Ward, Hiroshima, has announced that it will send a staff member to the United States for the first time, from November 6 to 10, to videotape the stories of A-bomb survivors who now lives in that nation. Encouraged by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima last year, an increasing number of A-bomb survivor who now reside in the nuclear superpower have begun to speak out about their A-bomb experiences. The Memorial Hall said, “We would like to make the most of this chance and record as many A-bomb accounts as possible so they can be handed down to the future.”

Three A-bomb survivors, all residents of California, will be interviewed on this occasion: Junji Sarashina, 88, the president of the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bomb Survivors; Wataru Namba, 90; and Eiko Fukushima, 86. In addition to describing their A-bomb experiences, they will also share the hardships they have endured and the circumstances of their lives in the United States. One staff member from the Memorial Hall, along with others hired in the United States, including camera operators, will videotape these interviews.

Since 2007, the Memorial Hall has been videotaping the accounts of A-bomb survivors residing abroad when they visit Hiroshima. As of the end of fiscal year 2016, 51 testimonial videos have been produced and these can now be viewed at the Memorial Hall or on its website. In recent years, because of the dwindling number of A-bomb survivors who visit Hiroshima, due to their advancing age, the Memorial Hall has been organizing trips to South Korea to film the A-bomb accounts of survivors who live in that country. Such trips have been pursued since 2014.

The Memorial Hall has learned from the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bomb Survivors that their members were encouraged by Mr. Obama’s visit to Hiroshima and more survivors in the United States are now ready to share their A-bomb experiences. Ms. Fukushima is one of those who was touched by the strong empathy Mr. Obama showed toward the A-bomb survivors, which moved her to break her silence. The Memorial Hall said, “Many Japanese-American A-bomb survivors kept quiet because of the hardships, peculiar to those of Japanese descent, that they went through. Their testimonies are thus very valuable.” Video recordings of the three survivors’ stories will be available in April of next year.

(Originally published on November 3, 2017)