Family memories 77 years after A-bombing, Part 1: Aging A-bomb survivors pass on memories of “that day”

by Taiki Yomura, Staff Writer

At the beginning of June this year, Yaeko Kimoto, 84, a resident of Kure City in Hiroshima Prefecture who experienced the atomic bombing in Hiroshima City at the age of seven, began for the first time to talk about August 6, 1945, the date of the atomic bombing. She described her experiences to her oldest son Seiji, 61, oldest daughter Tomoko, 59, and Shuichiro, 20, her grandson and Seiji’s oldest son. “I haven’t had many opportunities to talk about it until now…,” explained Ms. Kimoto.

She spoke about the deep scar that remains on her left arm and described the heaps of dead bodies still vivid in her memory as well as her younger brother, who had been troubled by his keloid scars of enlarged, raised skin. She quietly recalled those times with, at times, tears welling up in her eyes.

That was the first time for the family to get together and confront the reality of “that day.” The gathering was prompted by Seiji’s decision to work as one of the Family A-bomb Legacy Successors, for which the Hiroshima City government began to provide training in fiscal 2022. In the summer of 2022, the year Seiji decided to learn of the A-bombing experience of his family member in detail and to undertake the role of passing on A-bombing experiences to future generations, he also invited to the gathering Tomoko and Shuichiro, neither of whom knew much about Yaeko’s A-bombing experience.

This year, 2022, marks the 77th commemoration of the U.S. military’s dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and indiscriminately taking the lives of many citizens of the city. Many A-bomb survivors who survived the atomic bombing have died while others are now elderly. At a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has heightened the risk of nuclear weapons use, the Chugoku Shimbun will consider anew the atomic bombing and its inhumanity through memories and families of A-bomb survivors.

(Originally published on July 27, 2022)