In online video, atomic-bomb survivors speak of emotional wounds

JIJI

A video featuring hibakusha talking about their emotional scars has been posted online ahead of the 69th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The 36-minute video was produced by the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization No More Hibakusha Kioku Isan wo Keisho suru Kai (which translates roughly as No More Hibakusha — A Group to Pass on the Memory Heritage), and another group.

The four-part video includes testimony by 85-year-old Mikiso Iwasa, a senior official with the nonprofit group, and other hibakusha, as well as drawings and notes by survivors.

When the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, in the closing days of World War II, Iwasa, then 16, was about 1.2 km from the epicenter. His mother was buried under their house when it collapsed in the blast.

In the video, which has been posted on YouTube, he says he asked neighbors to help rescue his mother from the debris but they rejected the request.

“At the time, nobody could behave like a human being,” he recalls.

Flames were approaching but Iwasa managed to survive after his mother told him to flee. He still feels responsible for her death.

Haruko Ochi, 91, who was 1.7 km from ground zero, speaks in the video about the guilt she still feels decades later.

Ochi, who was 22 years old at the time, left behind three injured girls. Two had injuries on their backs, and their spinal bones were exposed, according to Ochi, who also suffered a serious injury in the explosion.

Three days after the tragedy in Hiroshima, Nagasaki was flattened by the second U.S. atomic bombing, on Aug. 9.

The nonprofit group plans to create more such videos, as well as an English version, and a DVD.

“Emotional scars of hibakusha have not been fully understood,” said Kazuhisa Ito, an official at the nonprofit group, adding that he hopes the videos will help people know that the survivors “are suffering from trauma and have lived while being unable to tell anybody about their painful memories.”

The video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=U73vyLpjPIQ .