Determined to take responsibility for handing down family members’ A-bomb experiences

by Junji Akechi, Yu Kawakami and Kana Kobayashi, Staff Writers

Twenty relatives of A-bomb survivors attended the first briefing session for applicants to the “family A-bomb legacy successors” program held by the City of Hiroshima at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on May 11. This is a new effort made by the city government to have citizens pass on their family members’ experiences of the atomic bombing. The participants have their own thoughts and hope to pass on the memories of their families. “It is my responsibility to pass on my grandfather’s experience,” one participant said. “I want to find out what my mother could not tell me until now,” said another.

Yo Hosokawa, 62, a resident of Naka Ward and former high school teacher, is eager to tell his father Hiroshi’s experience, saying, “I have been waiting for this system.” During his many years of sharing his experience of the atomic bombing, Hiroshi, now 94, has also told his grief over the loss of his 13-year-old sister.

Hiroshi used to send a reply to each of the letters he received from children across Japan who listened to his account. But he is living in a facility for the elderly and can no longer be active in sharing his experience. Yo said, “My father is glad that I will tell his experience. I would also like to share my father’s personality, which only I can provide as his son.”

Kento Ogata, 31, a caregiver living in Higashi Ward, is planning to listen to his grandfather Shozo Matsubara, 93, who also lives in Higashi Ward, and tell of his experience. His grandfather was a student at the time of the atomic bombing. He went into the city to search for his relatives the day after the atomic bombing. Kento listened to his grandfather only once when he was a child, but he did not fully understand what he said at that time. “Now that I’m an adult, I have come to realize the importance of his testimony. I’m the only one who can carry on my grandfather’s memory,” he said.

Takanori Mizuno, 64, a resident of Asakita Ward, is an active member of the first group of A-bomb legacy successors. Seven members of his family were directly exposed to the atomic bombing, among whom only his mother Akiko, 89, is alive. Now he will listen carefully to his mother. Though he tells the experiences of other survivors who have taught him, he has not told his family members’ experiences in detail. “I guess my mother must have something she could not tell me just because we are family members. I want to take this opportunity to listen to my mother carefully,” he said.

On the other hand, some had to give up on applying to be A-bomb legacy successors when they learned that one of the requirements is that the survivor relative must be alive. One of the participants said that her relative, who has recently passed away, had a strong desire to convey their experience, the content of which has been recorded. “I wish the system were more flexible,” she said.

(Originally published on May 12, 2022)