LONDON — Londoners are learning about the plight of 2,000 orphans “ignored” by authorities following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima 65 years ago.
Shozo Kawamoto, 76, has visited various venues in the British capital in the runup to Friday’s anniversary to educate more people about the “hidden victims” of the atomic bombing, which initially and in the ensuring months claimed some 140,000 lives.
Kawamoto, also promoting London’s first exhibition on the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on Tuesday told members of the British pressure group Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament that about 1,000 children who lost their parents in the bombing were left to “starve to death” in the aftermath of the attack.
He said a further 1,000, like himself, had to fend for themselves in the city and were targeted for recruitment in the criminal underworld.
“In order for us to survive, we did some bad things. Everybody around us was considered an enemy,” he said.
Kawamoto told his audience in Greenwich, southeast London, that it was sad they were forgotten by society and that the orphans who starved to death were merely registered as “missing” at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
He said many of the orphans, who had been evacuated from the city when the attack happened, were shunned as they got older and that he felt forced to set up a new life in Okayama Prefecture.
“I wanted to commit suicide but I built a new life,” Kawamoto said. “I remembered the words of my mother, who always told me to do my best and work hard.”
Kawamoto decided the story of the orphans’ plight must be told because he “doesn’t want any child to go through this again.”
The Mayor of Greenwich Barbara Barwick said “many nations still want to have nuclear weapons in order to bully other nations” and this had to be “stopped.”
Earlier, Julian Lewis, a Conservative member of Parliament and a defense specialist, said the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were “the lesser of two or more evils.”
“It is very easy decades after the event to say what a terrible action this was,” he said. “But we must never forget that it was a terrible action to end a terrible war. At the time that the decision was taken to drop the bomb, more people were being killed in conventional bombing raids on cities than died, at least initially, in the atomic bombings.” On Lewis’ comments, Kawamoto said, “I don’t deny it was a necessary evil, but it should be remembered that ordinary people were sacrificed.”