Hiroshima City to begin training children, grandchildren of survivors as “Family A-bomb Legacy Successors” in 2022 to communicate A-bombing experiences

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

On January 19, it was learned that the Hiroshima City government will launch a program to train what will be known as “Family A-bomb Legacy Successors” in fiscal 2022. The family successors will constitute members of A-bomb survivor families who, on behalf of the survivors themselves, will convey to the public A-bomb survivors’ experiences and their hopes for peace. To train the family successors, the city will expand its existing program known as “A-bomb Legacy Successors” or ‘memory keepers,’ whose role is communicating to the public the experiences of A-bomb survivors in the bombing. With A-bomb survivor numbers dwindling due to the aging of that population, the city government is focused on training people who will be able to take on the role of conveying A-bombing experiences to the public based on cooperation from survivor families.

According to an official involved in the plan, the city government will seek people who are interested in inheriting and communicating the A-bombing experiences of a parent or grandparent A-bomb survivor in their family. After undergoing a certain period of training about effective public speaking, for example, the family successors will be asked to speak at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, located in the city’s Naka Ward, as well as at other venues. The city intends to incorporate expenses related to the program’s expansion, including training costs, into its initial general account budget proposal for fiscal 2022.

To pass on A-bomb survivors’ experiences, in fiscal 2012 the city launched the A-bomb Legacy Successors program. The applicants for the program undergo training that includes listening to A-bomb survivors’ experiences at the museum, following which they work to share with others the stories they have heard. A total of 149 people were placed as A-bomb Legacy Successors in the program in fiscal 2021. The successors have held lectures for museum visitors and conveyed the survivors’ A-bombing experiences to children at schools where they are asked to speak.

The city government anticipates that development of the training program for Family A-bomb Legacy Successors, in addition to the existing A-bomb Legacy Successors, will lead to broader access to the wide range of experiences of A-bomb survivors, including those who have not yet spoken about their own experiences to the public. The expanded program is also expected to help identify undisclosed A-bombing experiences and enable the sharing of such memories among family members.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the average age of A-bomb Survivor’s Certificate holders was 83.94 years as of the end of March 2021. In April last year, Emiko Okada, an A-bomb survivor who also served as a trainer for A-bomb Legacy Successors, passed away at the age of 84. Sunao Tsuboi, former chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hiroshima Hidankyo), died last October at the age of 96. Given such circumstances under which it is becoming more and more difficult to listen to A-bomb survivors’ experiences firsthand due to aging or deaths in that population, the issue of how the reality of the atomic bombing can be passed on to younger generations has become ever more challenging.

(Originally published on January 20, 2022)