Devnet – Part 2 – Thoughts at the 76th Anniversary Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony

Fumiyasu Akegawa – Chair & CEO, DEVNET INTERNATIONAL

As of August 9, 2021, the total number of A-bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is 189,163, the average age is 83.94, and the population is aging and declining. By the end of 1945, the death toll in Nagasaki was 73,884, the number of injured was 74,909, 67 towns were lost, and the case fatality rate was 100% within a radius of 1050 m and no shields. Not only those who are directly exposed to radiation (primary A-bomb survivors), but also those who enter the disaster area for relief and are exposed to residual radiation are often called A-bomb survivors (secondary A-bomb survivors). In addition, the “intrauterine survivors” who were exposed to radiation when they were fetal, the children of the survivors are called “A-bomb second generation survivors”, and their grandchildren are called “A-bomb third generation survivors”. Even the “A-bombed fourth generation survivors” were born, and the damage caused by the atomic bomb is still deep and quiet.

Nobuko Oka (92) reads out the “Pledge for Peace” this year. She was selected from 20 applicants (12 men and 8 women) inside and outside the prefecture. At the age of 16, she was exposed at her home, 1.8 kilometers from her hypocenter. She was exposed to prejudice against the A-bomb survivors after the end of the war, and she thought, “I don’t want to remember the atomic bomb. She didn’t even talk to her husband, who died about 15 years ago, and her two children, who now live apart. She began to talk about her at the time in the last few years, more than 70 years after the bombing. She attended the Peace Memorial Ceremony, thinking “It is the duty of the one left behind” and “The last beginning of her life.” The following is a pledge to peace by Mrs. Nobuko Oka, the representative of the A-bomb survivors.

My 93rd summer has come in my hometown of Nagasaki. Since seventy-six years ago, the Nagasaki summers that I used to love so much have changed. Even though we ?were poor during the war, life was enjoyable. However, the atomic bomb took even that away from me.

At the time I was 16 years old and a student at the Osaka First Army Hospital Osaka Japanese Red Cross Nursing School. The hospital was hit in the Bombing of Osaka, so I returned home to Nagasaki in August. In Nagasaki, Japanese Red Cross nurses were being dispatched to army and naval hospitals around Japan and abroad. We nursing students were on standby at home. On August 9th I was hit by the atomic bomb while at my home in what is today Sumiyoshi-machi and sustained injuries to the left half of my body from the blast winds of the bomb.

Three days after the bombing, I received a telegram that said “show up for aid duty” from the Nagasaki Prefectural Branch of the Japanese Red Cross and I was mobilized to the Shinkozen first-aid station. I was still only a nursing student, so I aided the victims as I learned by watching from the other nurses and combat medics. One after another, victims of the bombing were carried into the three-story first-aid station, and the second and third floors filled up very fast. There were so many dead. We would put the bodies on boards and two women would carry them to the playground where men would then throw them into the backs of large trucks like they were piling up lumber. Some bodies were carried to the autopsy room. I saw one body that was covered with maggots from the chest to the abdomen and nearly ran away, but a combat medic yelled at me, “You call yourself a rescue worker!?” which brought me back to my senses and I powered through.

As I tended to the victims without sleep or rest, I began to worry about my father, whose whereabouts I did not know. The injuries that I had on my legs were also infested with maggots and it felt like my legs were being drilled by gimlets. Bearing this pain, I searched for my father. From early in the morning, I walked unclear paths covered with rubble and the dead bodies of people and horses to search for him at the first-aid stations until it got dark, at which point I would return to the Shinkozen first-aid station. I did this over and over again. After a week, I finally found my father who was badly injured at the Togitsu National School first-aid station. “Father, youÅfre alive! I searched for you with all the strength I had,” I cried as I hugged him.

In my search for my father, I saw a man standing dazedly while holding with both hands his entrails which were coming out of his abdomen. I saw a charred person with only one leg leaning against a wall. And I saw a young mother trying to give her baby, whose head had been ripped off, its final suckle of milk. At the Michinoo first-aid station, a boy who was carrying his small, little brother on his back approached me. He asked, “Can you please buy me a train ticket?” “Where are you going to go?” I asked him, and he mentioned that his father had died and said “I want to go to Isahaya or Omura to look for my mother.” These two boys, younger than me, were looking for their mother whose whereabouts they did not know. I thought about those little boys while treating the victims and I got a lump in my throat.

In January of this year, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force, which was a long held wish for the atomic bomb survivors. I believe this is due to the small voices of every single person calling out for the abolition of nuclear weapons becoming one large, global voice and the younger generation carrying on our will.

Currently, I am requested by colleges to recount my story of the atomic bombing.
As long as we hibakusha are alive, we vow to relay our experiences and to appeal for peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

OKA Nobuko
Atomic Bomb Survivor Representative
August 9, 2021

Perhaps humankind is still lacking in learning even today in the 21st century. The fact that some countries profess to use nuclear weapons in war proves that. “Hibakusha”, no Japanese do not know this word, but what about the world? The horror of nuclear weapons used for non-combatant civilians would only be known if they had experienced them. Atomic bombs on the body. The number of A-bomb survivors who have been deeply injured by God is decreasing every year. The words of Nobuko Oka, who wields her courage and describes her own experience, pierces our heart. We must listen more to the A-bomb survivors and learn a lot from them.