U.S. President Barack Obama’s Hiroshima visit and speech reminded me of an artist who was an atomic bomb survivor. She expressed human beings, birds, small animals and beautiful worlds of nature in her works of art. When I drew birds as her student, she always encouraged me, saying “your birds don’t seem to fly at once. Draw birds very vividly so that they can fly at once if we approach them. Putting life into them is the most important part of drawing work.”

I now understand that her experience in Hiroshima overlaps my birds, since she was rescued from the ashes after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima; she was almost dead, very scarcely breathing at that moment. She probably, consciously or unconsciously, couldn’t help but revive my birds. She knew from her tragic experience how important and precious life is, and saw with her own eyes the atomic bomb’s destructive power against all living things, not only human beings, but also plants, animals, birds and the rest of beautiful nature.

I shall never forget the very strong words and attitude of my teacher. One of her students said to her one time that “so many people constantly tell the tragedy of Hiroshima over and over. How about stopping this behavior?” She responded very quickly, answering that “anybody who experienced the indescribable suffering must continue to tell the world regardless of any circumstances! Who else can do such a task?” She was usually very quiet. However, this time her words were full of powerful anger, and every student felt that the room had been shaken as if a big earthquake had suddenly hit. Her anger-filled answer demonstrated to us very clearly her unchangeable sense of responsibility and the mindset to continue to be a witness of the atomic bombing anywhere and anytime as long as she was able to breathe.

She passed away several years ago. However, she, her paintings of life and her message have never died within me.

Total war with nuclear weapons would mean the end of life on Earth. Do any human beings, plants, trees, birds or animals want death for our planet?

All political leaders and groups around the world have a great responsibility to act now and tomorrow, in not annihilating, but in coexisting by making the world a better and safer place.

Do any of them have a justifiable philosophy and right to destroy the living planet with nuclear weapons? Doesn’t everyone (not only human beings, but also animals, plants and nature) have their own right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

As President John F. Kennedy said to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25, 1961, “Mankind must put an end to war — or war will put an end to mankind.”

Hiroshi Noro

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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