Hiroshima A-bomb survivor urges G-7 foreign ministers to help rid world of nukes


A 78-year-old atomic bomb survivor of Hiroshima who has worked as a translator and peace activist for some 35 years is calling on the Group of Seven foreign ministers to face the terror of nuclear weapons and have the determination to abolish them.

The atomic bomb hit Hiroshima when Keiko Ogura, 8 years old at the time, was near her home about 2.4 km from ground zero. She recalls that a flash and blast came from a cloudless sky, and suddenly everything was in complete darkness because of rising dust and debris.

Ogura and her family survived even though the ceiling and windows of her house were blown away, and numerous fragments stuck into the walls.

She said she saw people burned all over walking with their skin hanging. “They were speechless and were like ghosts,” she said. One of them asked her for water, threw up immediately after drinking it and died.

“I saw the agonies of death. I was suffering from (feelings) of guilt and had nightmares for decades,” Ogura said.

She began to get involved in peace movements in 1979 after the death of her husband, Kaoru, former head of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. To follow in his footsteps, she became a translator for foreign journalists and scholars visiting the city.

In 1984, she established the volunteer group Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace to guide foreign visitors at Peace Memorial Park.

“Handing down to the world (the experience as an A-bomb victim) for peace is my source of energy,” she says.

In 2014, she talked about her experience at the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, a group of 12 nonnuclear weapons states, held in Hiroshima. She told them that A-bomb survivors would never give up their goal of creating a world free of nuclear weapons. Although the power of individuals may be small, it will come together like drops of water turning into an ocean, she said.

“Even if Group of Seven foreign ministers visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, I believe it would be difficult for them to immediately speak about abolishing nuclear weapons,” Ogura said. “But I want them to look at the tragedy which took place in Hiroshima as an individual. I strongly hope from the bottom of my heart that they will consider what they can do to realize nuclear disarmament.”