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HIROSHIMA WITNESS FOR PEACE: Testimony of A-Bomb Survivor Suzuko Numata, by Chikahiro Hiroiwa. Translated by Tadatoshi Saito. Tokyo: Soeisha Books/Sanseido, 1,000 yen.

Thirty-six years ago, not two decades after an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Kenzaburo Oe was already writing about the imperative to remember that appalling event. It sounds trite — a hazard that attends memorials to all great tragedies, from Hiroshima to the Holocaust — but Oe was getting at two important things: first, that people do tend to forget, or repress, traumas of this magnitude; and second, that the act of remembering doesn’t occur in a void. It is shaped by context: who is doing the remembering and what they choose to remember.

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