Hiroshima survivors recall their stories

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Hiroshima survivor Kaz Suyeishi related her experience the day the atomic bomb dropped on Aug. 6, 1945. (Clayton Wong / Daily Titan)

Hiroshima survivors Junji Sarashina and Kaz Suyeishi, along with Richard Fukuhara, creator of nonprofit organization Shadows for Peace, talked about the devastating effects of nuclear weapons at a panel hosted by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Fukuhara began the discussion by introducing his nonprofit, “Shadows for Peace, for the Sake of the Children: The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Experience,” an organization he described as “a program that promotes world peace, understanding through forums, video interviews, writings, artworks, music and dance.”

“Shadows for Peace’s mission statement is to educate and engage high school students, college students and citizens of the historically destructive power of nuclear weapons and work towards world peace,” Fukuhara said.

Fukuhara read from his work, “The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Experience,” which described the events and aftermath of the nuclear explosions. He talked about “Little Boy,” the 9,700 lbs. bomb that killed over 80,000 in Hiroshima when it fell at 8:15 a.m. Aug. 6, 1945. Fukuhara continued with the events behind the second nuclear bomb, “Fat Man,” which was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, killing around 40,000 more.

“Weeks, months, years later, thousands of additional citizens had died from various radiation-related diseases from Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Fukuhara said.

Following Fukuhara’s presentation, Junji Sarashina — who was just a 16-year-old high school senior the day Little Boy dropped — gave a vivid recollection of his experience.

“Younger generation … freshmen and sophomores, were in the city of Hiroshima,” Sarashina said.

“They were wiped out, either evaporated, melted, disintegrated or disappeared. That is the effect of the atomic bomb.”

At the time, Sarashina was working at a factory about a mile-and-a-half away from the epicenter of the explosion. He remembers being knocked flat on his back with debris flying around him as the building collapsed.

“After a few minutes, I realized that I’m still alive,” Sarashina said. “To my surprise, I didn’t have a scratch at all on my face, or my hands or my legs. I don’t know why.”

Sarashina remembers the next day, when he saw the worst thing he had seen. He searched at the location of his high school, where he found nothing but the swimming pool left. Children were still in the pool, alive.

Sarashina tried to help pull them out, but only pulled the burned skin off their bodies.

After Sarashina, fellow Hiroshima survivor Kaz Suyeishi shared her experience. She remembered her father raising her with the ideals of America being a nation filled with opportunity and nice people. America, Suyeishi said, had always been her dream country.

Although she doesn’t recall feeling any pain from her injuries after the bombing, it took years for Suyeishi to fully recover from radiation sickness. Suyeishi said she was finally back to functioning health in 1948, three years after the nuclear attack. Soon after she recovered, she moved to Hawaii to study fashion, where she eventually married and had children.

Now, as a grandmother, Suyeishi said her grandchildren ask her why she does not hate America despite everything that happened. She then reminds them of the importance of peace.
“Everybody is not perfect,” Suyeishi said. “Try to forgive each other and love
each other.”

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