Setsuko Thurlow’s autobiography is published, traces her life as anti-nuclear activist

The autobiography of Setsuko Thurlow, 87, an atomic bomb survivor living in Canada, has been published by Iwanami Shoten, Publishers. The book is titled Hikari ni Mukatte Hatte Ike, Kaku Naki Sekai o Oimotomete (Crawl Towards the Light, Seeking a World without Nuclear Weapons). The book traces Ms. Thurlow’s longtime efforts for nuclear abolition, culminating in the speech she gave at the award ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, representing the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Seventy-four years ago on August 6, when Ms. Thurlow was 13, she experienced the atomic bombing while at the Second General Headquarters (located in present-day Higashi Ward), about 1.8 kilometers from the hypocenter. Her sister as well as many schoolmates lost their lives in the bombing. Ms. Thurlow said that the title of the book is derived from the words a soldier said to her after she became trapped under the building, which collapsed in the bomb blast. The soldier, a stranger, urged her to escape as quickly as she could.

Ms. Thurlow has made her home in North America ever since moving to the United States 65 years ago, and has continuously called for a world without nuclear weapons. In the book, she writes about the hardships she experienced and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, on which she pins her hopes as a new “light” for A-bomb survivors. Her efforts to call into question the criminality of the use of the atomic bombs by the United States show her determination to speak for those who became victims of the bombs.

Ms. Thurlow wrote her autobiography with Yumi Kanazaki, a reporter for the Chugoku Shimbun’s Hiroshima Peace Media Center. The book, available for 1,944 yen, is based on extensive revisions of the series of articles titled “My Life” that appeared in the newspaper last summer.

(Originally published on August 1, 2019)