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Literary Openings, Gadgets and News in Nigeria | Duketundesblog: 70 years later, Hiroshima survivors have a plan to keep memories alive

Thursday, 6 August 2015

70 years later, Hiroshima survivors have a plan to keep memories alive

As Japan will today 6, August commemorate the 70th anniversary of the attack on Hiroshima, and three days later on Nagasaki. No one knows exactly how many people died as a result, but the Manhattan Engineer District says there were at least 105,000 deaths. Other estimates exceed 200,000...
Emiko Okada, left, a survivor of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, talks with Yasukazu Narahara, an “A-bomb legacy successor” who will help tell others about Okada’s experiences after she is gone. (Mitsu Maeda/For The Washington Post)

The crowd sat entranced as 78-year-old Emiko Okada recalled the horrifying events of Aug. 6, 1945, a day that started hot and cloudless. There was the buzz of the plane, the huge flash, the cries for water, the kids like ghosts with skin dangling off them, the people with their guts hanging out.
“We don’t want you young generations to go through what I did. You can help by spreading what you just heard from me to other people,” Okada — a hibakusha, or “atomic bombed person” — said this week in Hiroshima not far from the spot where American forces dropped Little Boy, the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare, 70 years ago Thursday.
A man stands in a sea of rubble before the shell of a building that once was a movie theatre in Hiroshima, in a photograph taken one month after an atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city
Not only is Okada telling her own story, but she has also begun to train an apprentice to continue disseminating her tale after she’s gone: a memory keeper, one of a growing number here being designated as an “A-bomb legacy successor” as the number of survivors dwindle.

While there are still more than 183,000 survivors of Hiroshima or Nagasaki alive in Japan today, their average age is 80, according to official statistics.  Okada’s designated storyteller is a 39-year-old man who works in a Tokyo department store and has no direct ties to Hiroshima. But since visiting the peace museum here as a college student, the memory keeper, Yasukazu Narahara, has become almost as ardent as Okada when it comes to making sure their fellow Japanese do not forget how the bombing came about and the devastation that nuclear weapons cause.
Bomb victims are sheltered at the Hiroshima Second Military Hospital
Japanese children do not spend much time learning about World War II at school, with the official curriculum guidelines saying students should understand that the war “caused sufferings to all humanity at large.” A recent poll by the public broadcaster NHK found that only 30 percent of adults could correctly give the date of the Hiroshima attack and even fewer knew when the Nagasaki attack happened.
“I hope I can build a relationship with her like a son” so that Okada will bequeath him her innermost thoughts, Narahara said after organizing the session at which Okada spoke.

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