• Chugoku Shimbun

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Three students at a university in Hiroshima are making a 20-minute documentary about residents in the city who were exposed to radioactive “black rain” after the 1945 atomic bombing.

The trio from Hiroshima University of Economics, who at the start of making the film didn’t know much about victims of the black rain, listen to the hardships residents in Saeki Ward have endured over the years, with the victims complaining of health problems caused by internal radiation exposure and being denied financial support by the government.

The students’ hope, as they put it, is to “create a film that will inspire the younger generation, who feel that the war and the atomic bombing are something unrelated to them.”

The three are third-year students in the university’s media business department. Marika Nishino, 20, is the director, while Meiko Okuhara, 20, and Naoto Kajioka, 21, are serving as videographers.

Having learned about a black rain lawsuit through classes and news reports, they were shocked that people living outside an officially designated zone linked to state aid were not recognized as A-bomb survivors even though they were exposed to the radioactive rain. In 1976, the central government recognized residents living in an area of 29 kilometers by 15 km as being eligible for financial support, based on a 1945 weather survey. However, the city of Hiroshima compiled a report in 2010 saying that there was radioactive rainfall in an area six times bigger than what the central government recognized.

Their motivation to make the documentary stemmed from their anger at what they saw as an unreasonable government system.

In February, the trio began interviewing members of the plaintiffs group in an effort to compile their testimonies and uncover the facts. They filmed mainly in the town of Yuki, which is divided by the Mizuuchi River into areas recognized as having been exposed to “heavy” and “light” rainfall. They also made more than 10 visits to Masaaki Takano, 83, head of the plaintiffs group, for interviews.

Takano, who was exposed to the downpour while returning home from school, developed symptoms of high fever and diarrhea. In later years, he also suffered from cancer and cataracts. In the video, Takano talks about how his town was known as a “short-lived village” at the time, and that a crematorium was constantly in full operation.

“But even so, I was not recognized as hibakusha for a long time and was slandered,” Takano told the students.

The footage also includes interviews with other members of the group, highlighting their years of suffering from illness and discrimination. It also captures the joy on their faces when, after 76 years, they were finally recognized as A-bomb survivors in July after the Hiroshima High Court ruled in their favor.

The 120 hours of footage they compiled will be edited into a 20-minute film, which the trio aim to submit to a national contest in November.

Given many of the victims are now in their 80s, the same age as their grandparents, the three say they feel the war is relatable.

“It was sometimes difficult to get their true feelings out of them, but we hope to pass on their memories by listening to their stories and accumulating the facts,” the trio said.

This monthly feature focuses on topics and issues covered by the Chugoku Shimbun, the largest newspaper in the Chugoku region. The original article was published Aug. 12.

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