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Hiroshima and Nagasaki at 65 – A Reflection

Author(s): Norimatsu Satoko

Journal: Asia-Pacific Journal : Japan Focus
ISSN 1557-4660

Volume: 8;
Issue: 52;
Start page: 3;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Japan | U.S. Hiroshima | Nagasaki | atomic bomb | nuclear war | Hibakusha | nuclear disarmament

On countless occasions this year, sixty-five years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, I have heard and read that hibakusha (atomic-bomb survivors) are dying away, and that we need to eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth, for the future of humanity, to be sure, but also so that their dying wishes are fulfilled. Indeed, hibakusha are not getting any younger. The average age of the 227,565 hibakusha who hold atomic-bomb health books as of March 2010 is 76.73. On August 6 this year, the names of 5,501 hibakusha who had died during the past year were added to the Hiroshima Cenotaph, making the total number of deaths of Hiroshima's hibakusha 269,446. In Nagasaki on August 9, 3,114 names were added to make a total of 152,276. Adding the death tolls from both cities, the total of Hiroshima/Nagasaki deaths as of August, 2010 was 421,722. The total number of hibakusha, including the living and dead, is at least 649,287, and keeping in mind those unaccounted for, it is probably more. Simply put, approximately, one third of hibakusha survive, speaking and living on behalf of all.No matter how many years go by, the number of people who were in or under the fiery clouds from the explosion of the two atomic-bombs, the first to be used against people, will always be the same, whether alive or dead. It includes those who perished instantly at and near the hypocentres, as Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi described above,4 without ever being able to speak or even comprehend their own experience. It is for those dead and living people that we younger generations are acting and speaking on behalf of, and from whom we learn. And having fewer, or even none, of those surviving people will in no way diminish the significance of our actions, our shared memories, and our knowledge, to be inherited by future generations, so that never again will nuclear weapons be used, in combat or in experiments.
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