Striving to fill voids in Hiroshima 75 years after the atomic bombing—A-bomb victim’s remains provided by RIKEN claimed by Iseoka family

by Tsuyoshi Kubota, Staff Writer

On February 22, the Hiroshima City government announced it had identified another family of an A-bomb victim whose remains were provided last year to the city government by the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN, headquartered in Wako, Saitama Prefecture). The family name of the remains, “Iseoka,” was confirmed by the city government but at the family’s request, the city has not publicized the full name of the victim. This represents the second victim whose identity has been confirmed from among the remains of the four victims from RIKEN whose family names or full names were identified.

When the remains were presented to the city in November last year, the city deemed as valid the Iseoka family’s claim to the remains after conducting interviews with the family and researching relevant documents. Following the family’s wishes, Mr. Iseoka’s remains will be permanently enshrined in the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound, located in Naka Ward’s Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The mound is said to hold the remains of about 70,000 victims. Of that number, family members of 1,622 remains of victims have been identified to date, including the Iseoka family this time.

The remains were discovered among materials that belonged to Dr. Yoshio Nishina (1890-1951; originally from the town of Satosho-cho in Okayama Prefecture), who had entered the city of Hiroshima soon after the atomic bombing by the U.S. military to survey the situation as a RIKEN researcher.

Unclear is how many victims were represented in the entirety of remains provided by RIKEN, but information on identity such as the family names of the four victims has been confirmed through envelopes or written notes. The remains of a victim by the name of Kikuma Michihara were ultimately concluded to be those of a person with the same name from the town of Yoshiwa-mura (now part of the city of Hatsukaichi) but with one different Chinese character. His remains were returned to family in Hatsukaichi.

When the four victims’ family names of the RIKEN remains were checked against the Hiroshima Prefectural History (published in 1972), which includes records of surveys conducted soon after the bombings, three of the family names, including Iseoka, were found in a list of A-bomb disease victims whose bones and remains had undergone radiation measurement by the Japanese Imperial Army’s survey team. Based also on the family’s comments in interviews, the city government determined that the RIKEN remains with the family name Iseoka were those of Mr. Iseoka claimed by family this time.

The names of the two unclaimed victims provided by RIKEN are Toshiro Kinouchi and Satoi, with only the family name of the latter to have been identified. The city has been seeking the family members of 815 victims whose remains have not yet been claimed, although their full names have been identified, by publicizing a list of the names. For more information, call the city’s department in charge of looking for bereaved family members, at 082-504-2191.

(Originally published on February 23, 2021)