Bikini Atoll victim exhibition opens

An exhibition opened Thursday at a Tokyo museum of about 100 letters of sympathy sent in 1954 to the family of a fishing boat crew member who died six months after being exposed to the U.S. bomb experiment at Bikini Atoll.

The exhibition, which runs through Oct. 17, is part of a series of events at the Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. hydrogen bomb experiment. Thursday marks exactly 50 years since the death of Aikichi Kuboyama, chief radio operator on the ill-fated Fukuryu Maru No. 5.

The displayed letters are part of a collection of around 3,000 letters and postcards that Kuboyama’s wife, Suzu, donated to the museum in 1973 before she died.

In the letters, the public express their sympathy to Kuboyama and other crew members of the fishing boat, called the Lucky Dragon in English, and their anger at H-bomb experiments.

“The miserable World War II has just ended and we have vowed never to allow war to happen again, but suffering caused by bombs is just as bad as war,” reads a letter from a third-year junior high school student. “We children cannot understand what is in the minds of adults.”

“The letters, albeit from 50 years ago, have a lot in common with current times,” museum curator Kazuya Yasuda said. “For example, (the subject of) war and peace is still one of the most important issues nowadays.”

Of the 3,000 letters and cards, 700 are from elementary schoolchildren, 800 are from junior high and high school pupils, and the remainder are from such individuals as World War II war criminals and atomic bomb survivors.

Many of them were addressed to Kuboyama’s eldest daughter, Miyako, who was 10 years old when her father died.

An elementary school student from a Korean school in Kobe wrote to Miyako, “We will do what we can to ask the American people not to make those terrifying hydrogen bombs and atomic bombs.”