Grandchildren of hibakusha and B-29 crewman unite to press for nuclear-free world


The granddaughter of a survivor of the atomic bombings in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the grandson of the only U.S. serviceman who flew on both atomic bomb missions, have recognized each other’s peace activities and share a determination to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Early last month, Kosuzu Harada, 43, a Nagasaki resident and the granddaughter of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who died in 2010 at the age of 93, met Ari Beser, 30, who was visiting Japan from Washington D.C., at the Nagasaki Prefectural Government building.

As they were updating each other about their recent activities, Beser noted the necessity and significance of an education system that prompts students to contemplate denuclearization voluntarily. Harada agreed, saying, “Students should be taught not only about historical facts, but should be encouraged to think about them by considering how they relate to things with which they are more familiar.”

Harada’s grandfather, Yamaguchi, a shipyard engineer, was on a business trip to Hiroshima when the city was bombed on Aug. 6, 1945. Then he survived the second atomic blast in Nagasaki, his hometown, when he returned from the trip three days later. Harada now holds events telling his story with pictures, to convey Yamaguchi’s efforts throughout his life to pass on his wartime experiences.

Beser, a filmmaker, has been working to advocate denuclearization through documenting the voices of hibakusha. Ari Beser’s grandfather, Jacob, who died in 1992 at the age of 71, was an army lieutenant and radar specialist who flew on both of the B-29s carrying the “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” atomic bombs.

Harada and Ari Beser, who got to know each other five years ago through an acquaintance, share the belief that younger generations have a mission to work to improve the chances of peace, despite the experiences of their grandparents.

Ari Beser had told Harada of the difficulty of campaigning for denuclearization in the United States, which is still pro-nuclear. As a third-generation hibakusha, Harada advises him based on her own experiences.

Ari Beser said he hopes to explore what they can achieve together. He is planning to produce a documentary film featuring both families, and Harada has said she is willing to cooperate.