HIGASHI-HIROSHIMA, Hiroshima Pref. — When a doctor told Hitoshi Takayama in 1962 that a lump removed from his abdomen was malignant, the then 32-year-old thought he would share the fate of the 200,000 whose lives were lost in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

A-bomb survivor Hitoshi Takayama holding his book

Despite constant pain in his abdomen and the specter of death, Takayama devoted himself to raising consciousness worldwide of the events of Aug. 6, 1945, and their aftermath to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy.

“Hiroshima in Memoriam and Today” is the latest version of his effort toward that end. The 278-page English-language book, published in the United States in July 2000, is a revised and enlarged version of his book of the same name that was first published in 1973 and revised in 1979.

David Swain, a former United Methodist missionary in Japan and a translator of scholarly works on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, was involved in editing and laying out the latest version.

“I wanted to publish this as a message to the 21st century,” said Takayama, 71, a former junior high school teacher. “Although it is always hard for me both physically and economically to do this work, I hope the book will enable more people in the world to know the truth about Hiroshima.” The new book contains photographs of Hiroshima before and after the bombing, memoirs of A-bomb survivors, comments from citizens and statements from supporters overseas, including from Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica, and F.W. de Klerk, former president of South Africa. The overseas observers stress the importance of remembering Hiroshima and learning from the incident.

Takayama said that although some Americans believe the bombings were necessary to end the war, he wants them to understand Hiroshima people’s earnest cries for peace.

“While Japan, for its part, must sincerely reflect on its aggression against Asian people during the war, we want all people to hear the voices of Hiroshima, which warn that humanity faces extinction unless it eliminates nuclear weapons,” Takayama said.

The voices of Hiroshima touch people’s hearts, especially those that come from hibakusha, he said.

On that morning of Aug. 6, 1945, Takayama, who was in his second year of junior high school, was working at a truck repair factory about 2 km from ground zero. While 90 percent of his fellow students were killed or wounded, Takayama came through unscathed apart from a rather hard blow to his waist. The radiation, however, apparently took its toll. A malignant tumor was found in his abdomen in 1962.

Five years after his release from hospital, Takayama began speaking at Hiroshima Memorial Park of his experiences out of concern that Hiroshima was being forgotten and that many foreigners did not know much about the bombing.

“I felt the need to make an English-language book that explains the bombing and its aftermath, as there was no such material at that time,” Takayama said.

In December 1969, he made a 40-page booklet at his own expense that contains photographs and memoirs of hibakusha.

When the booklet was distributed in 1970 to foreigners participating in an international conference in Hiroshima, it raised interest in the current state of Hiroshima, which in turn prompted Takayama to publish “Hiroshima in Memoriam and Today” in 1973.

Although progress on eliminating nuclear weapons has been haphazard at best, Takayama remains optimistic as he has faith in human nature.

“Through my work of collecting information and publishing a series of books, I have met many people who shared my wish (of abolishing nuclear bombs),” he said. “I was able to publish this book due to so much support from others. I am certain that the network of good will is expanding and believe that the message of Hiroshima is one that people around the world share.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.