Amid spread of new coronavirus spread, Hiroshima group uses YouTube to convey A-bomb experiences to Internet generation

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

In honor of the date of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, a Hiroshima volunteer group has held gatherings on the sixth of every month in downtown in Naka Ward, Hiroshima, where A-bomb survivors talk about their A-bomb experiences. But this month, the group will try live-streaming A-bomb survivors’ accounts on YouTube. This first trial came as a result of the spread of the new coronavirus infection. A member of volunteer group says with great enthusiasm, “We’ve decided to turn the current adverse situation of having to refrain from holding regular gatherings into our advantage by using the Internet. I hope this YouTube trial will lead to more in the Internet generation participating in the gatherings.”

On March 6, A-bomb survivor, Tomoko Wakimasu, 78, a resident of Kumano-cho, will talk about her experiences for about one hour from 7 pm. She was three years old at the time of the atomic bombing, and exposed to radioactive fallout when she entered Hiroshima City soon after the dropping of the bomb. She will talk about what her mother saw and heard on the day of the atomic bombing and of her childhood experiences when she suffered from a physical disorder. During her live presentation, the audience will be able to post their comments and questions in real time.

The MC for the event will be Hiroki Ishikawa, 39, a resident of Asaminami Ward. He is a member of the volunteer group and a singer and songwriter who goes by the name of HIPPY. He will invite Ms. Wakimasu to the volunteer group’s office in Naka Ward, and will post her A-bomb account on his own website under the title of “173rd A-bomb Survivor’s Account Gathering.”

The late Yojiro Tomie, who at the time was operating a bar in Naka Ward, started the gatherings in 2006. After Mr. Tomie died of lung cancer at the age of 37 in 2017, Mr. Ishikawa and other members of the group fulfilled Mr. Tomie’s last wish to ensure the gatherings continued.

Due to the spread of the coronavirus infection, the Peace Memorial Museum in Naka Ward has been temporarily closed, and many reservations for listening to A-bomb survivor testimonies at the museum were cancelled one after another. Mr. Ishikawa said, “Even young people who tend to be uncomfortable about asking questions face-to-face will be more likely to participate in the event if it is posted live on the Internet.” Ms. Wakimasu says, “This event, which enables present and future generations to learn about the experiences of war, is an important activity. I’m very glad to have the opportunity to be involved.”

(Originally published on March 5, 2019)