Meiko Kurihara donates letter and postcard mentioning suffering of A-bombed Southeast Asian Students to Peace Museum

by Yuji Yamamoto, Staff Writer

Meiko Kurihara, 93, a resident of Asakita Ward, Hiroshima City, has donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum a letter and postcard received from students on government scholarships during World War II. Referred to at the time as “Southeast Asian Special Students,” they were studying in Hiroshima and exposed to the bomb. Both items were written soon after the war’s end, and sent to Ms. Kurihara with whom they spent a week after the bombing. The Peace Memorial Museum began exhibiting a picture of the students in its main building this spring, but this is the first time the museum has obtained the actual items.

The letter was written on August 27, 1945 by the late Pengiran Yusuf, an international student from Brunei who studied at Hiroshima University of Literature and Science (present-day Hiroshima University). He wrote it while in Kyoto after the bombing, and just prior to returning home. In the letter, he expresses a fondness for his days spent with Ms. Kurihara, despite their hardship. He also discusses feeling extremely grateful that he was able to survive the terrible nature of the atomic bombing.

The donated postcard was sent from Tokyo in September 1945, by the late Abdul Razak from Malaysia. In the postcard, Mr. Razak mentions a Syed Omar (who was also from Malaysia) died while staying in Kyoto—regretfully relaying his certainty that Omar’s death was due to the atomic bomb.

These students were part of a group of young people from South Asian countries brought here under Japan’s Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere policy. Among the nine students who attended Hiroshima University of Literature and Science, eight were exposed to the atomic bomb and two lost their lives.

Ms. Kurihara also donated six photos of the international students taken before the bombing. Hoping the items will be long preserved, she said, “I hope many young people will look at the items and feel there should never be wars and that nuclear weapons should be abolished.”

(Originally published on September 2, 2019)