Hiroshima Voices: “No Nukes, No War” Yuki Tominaga, 25, Tokyo
Feb. 24, 2023
The leaders from nuclear nations do not know how people suffer at the mercy of such weapons.
Yuki Tominaga, a third-generation A-bomb survivor from Hiroshima, now performs as a dancer in Tokyo. In 2009, when 11 years old, she traveled to the United States with her grandmother, Emiko Okada, an A-bomb survivor who shared her experience in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima with others in Japan and overseas and died in 2021 at the age of 84. At a preparatory meeting for the Non-nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, being held at the United Nations headquarters, they called for the elimination of nuclear weapons. She is now exploring ways in which to carry on her grandmother’s hopes for peace by holding an annual event, EO PEACE, in Hiroshima on August 6, among other activities.
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The footage I have seen on television of adults and children rushing to air-raid shelters in Ukraine as warning sirens sound is truly shocking. It reminds me of the stories my grandmother used to tell me of her experience in the atomic bombing.
She would say how at the time Hiroshima had been filled with huge numbers of disfigured corpses. Because of her trauma after witnessing the sky turned red by the flames that arose after the bombing, she couldn’t look at sunsets after the war. She used to repeat the story of how her older sister, then 12, called out that she was going to help demolish buildings for the creation of fire lanes as a mobilized student that day. “It was the last time I saw her,” she would say.
“I don’t want you to ever experience war or an atomic bombing,” said my grandmother, who died suddenly one day. I struggled about what I could do in her place. What finally pushed me to move ahead were her words “You need to communicate using as a platform something at which you excel.”
With that, I committed to engage with young people through the art of dance. The past two years, I organized the event EO PEACE on August 6, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The event includes musical and dance performances and features street stalls. With some expressing their opinion that the anniversary of the atomic bombing should be spent somberly mourning victims, I wondered for a time whether I should even hold the event. In our own way, though, we were able to both mourn the victims and express our hopes for peace. Seeing the many families with children at the event in a park in downtown Hiroshima, I came to feel that “this is true peace.”
Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine persists. I want Russian President Vladimir Putin to hear my grandmother’s account of her experience. The leaders from nuclear nations know nuclear weapons as power, but what they do not know is exactly how people suffer at the mercy of such weapons. I want to communicate that message to the leaders of nuclear nations. (Interviewed by Rina Yuasa)