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History On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Three mornings later, a second bomb was detonated over Nagasaki. Six days later, World War II was over. Sister Teresa Yamada, a Roman Catholic nun, was in charge of 200 children in a convent in the city of Hiroshima. She was 28 years old at the time. Almost 40 years later, she now lives in a convent near Market Street in San Francisco. She is one of the estimated 1000 atomic bomb survivors now living in the United States. Most of these survivors are women in their 50s and 60s. Most of them are American citizens who were caught in Japan when the war broke out, or married Americans after the war. Well, I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and I was 11 years old when I went to Japan with my mother.
And the reason why, because most parents felt that we children should get an education, at least partially in Japan, and then come back to the United States to finish up our education. I was born Los Angeles, raised here until about eight years old. I went to Japan to visit my grandparents in 1941, and got caught during the war time. I was born in Sacramento, and I went to Japan just before the war started in 1941. August, the last ship, the left of the United States. I went on a vacation, but due to the war, I'm coming to war. I had no way to come back again to this country, so I was sort of stuck there for about six and a half years. I had never been in Japan. I never wanted to be. But in those days, we went where our husbands went. One day I was sitting in the coffee shop, and then the woman sitting next to me,
she looked at me, and she said, what happened to you? You were in the fire or in the car accident? So I told her that I was in Hiroshima, and I'm a victim of this Hiroshima bomb, and she was so surprised, and you must be a little girl at that time. I said, well, no, I was 13 years old. She was so surprised. And then you remember everything, I said, I'm sure. Yes, just happened like yesterday. Then when that big woman was dropped, I was fused. And my mother was two months pregnant of me. This is my son, Paul. He was two at the time, the bomb dropped, so he remembers very nothing at all. I imagine about that time. I was four years old at that time, so my memory is not that good. I was playing outside.
It was a middle of the summer, so I was wearing a white dress with raw design, and somehow I was facing backward when the bomb hit. We won labor service that day. We heard the airplanes, the B-29s, coming overhead. The sun was fairly bright, if I recall. And so we shielded our eyes watching the plane. Well, I was sitting in the garden under the shade of the tree, and then making my meditation over there. Then suddenly I saw the light, beautiful ones, and then I saw such a beautiful light in my life. It was just looking up, and then bang, it went. And then all of a sudden the flash burn,
and this is how I got the burn on my left arm, and part of my neck. We didn't know what it was, and I was blown tall about 20-30 feet from where I was standing. And when I came to several seconds later, you know, at first I thought I was dead, because the lighting was bright, and the sun was huge, and the explosion was big. And I had to sort of look around and touch myself, if I realized that I was still alive. I thought going to die, you know, because all around the fire. I just can't explain to you such a strong light in the wind, and next time I know I was in red and black and green, dark in the fire. Just like somebody put your straw into your big fire. I started to run five or six steps.
I couldn't advance anymore, because of the heat. It was so hot. So I put myself flat on the ground, thinking that I'm going to die. You know, the last moment has come, so I prayed, and then I opened my eyes. I saw the ground, and I said, oh, I'm not dead yet. And so she was like in the doorway of the bomb shelter, when I guess the explosion went off and threw her, and so she was unconscious for a couple hours. And then my aunt and her sister, she came and tried to find her, and find the rest of the family. That's pretty much what I know. And just that I know that her parents died, or her dad died from that, and her brother and sister. I could hear them father, you know what I'm saying? Which means I'm hurt, and it's coming from back side of the yard.
And when I saw him, the blood coming from his head and the arm, the other place. I saw the half of the building was, you know, sliding, and then the roofs were all blown away. And then I found one little girl, small little girl. She was buried under the debris of the window fence. So without thinking I might be hurt, but I just took her out from the debris. Hi, this is the building. I was in the building. Oh, yeah. When the atomic bomb was dropped, she was by the building, and then building fallen on her. And then she was under the building. And then she had burned all the body, all the wood. All the wood and all the wood, all the wood.
That's right. And this is the back side. That's right. And this is the back side of the building. That's why there's a building here. It was like you went through hell, everybody's dying, and all the street. Okay, head is top of the telephone pole, arms all over, scare around, all the body around you, and all over this, trying the fires all over. And when you're walking through, they're still burning, underneath there's a big wood, there's some there underneath, you could just pull them and help them out. Everybody was just getting away, just running from the scene, running to get help. So we ran away to the bank of the river, where we found as many people already lying on the grass, harvested, or really heavily wounded.
So we couldn't do anything, they wanted to help them, but we couldn't do anything. I came across a mother, pushing a baby carriage. And at first, from far away, it didn't look like anything was the matter with them, but as I came closer to them, I realized that the mother had a blank look, just staring straight across in front of her. And then I looked at the baby, and the baby had a piece of wood stuck in her cheek, and right into her mouth. And what surprised me was that the baby wasn't crying. She was just like her mother looking straight ahead, she wasn't crying at all. Yeah, the strange things, nobody crying, screaming, nothing, more like a silent. I think people don't have an energy to scream or cry, or maybe most people have a shock.
I couldn't go to sleep because of the city was burning, and I went on top of the roof of the factory nearby, a little factory, but I could see the city burning. And all night long, we had a hospital near our place, and many, many hundreds of injured people came to the hospital, and there weren't too many well-ediquate medical supplies, and there were some doctors there, some nurses there, but they didn't have enough medicine to take care of all the people. And these people were thirsty and hurt and dying, and all night long I could hear them calling mother, mother, and something to me like ghosts calling out in the middle of the night. I had a friend, a little younger than I was at that time, and he was hurt quite a bit, and so I went to see him, and I couldn't recognize him at first. And the hospital floor was full of these people,
and he had even a space to walk around. And when I passed him, he called me by my name, and then that's how I recognized, you know, I realized that he was him. Like many of the victims, he was burning, and when they were burning, you know, it looked like a big balloon, like blisters on the arm and body and legs, I was looking for him, and he died the following day. It's hard to describe the feeling. Well, the primary feeling I had probably was fear. What could, you know, do such things as this in a fraction of a second? And I was afraid, said, angered myself in a way that I couldn't do anything. I tried to do something, but there was no medicine. Doctors were doing their best. The only thing I could do was hold his hand and, you know, hope that I could kind of ease his pain and suffering. And...
I tried to help my parents. It was impossible. Then I just passed away. Those days, they were very difficult to find the doctor. But somehow, a neighborhood, they tried to save me. They looked for the doctor. Finally, they found one doctor that he, himself, was an angel. So he couldn't escape to the countryside. He doesn't have any equipment. I had a neighborhood that charred him and brought back, and they looked at me. And I could hear the very clear. I'm sorry. He cannot save me. And I supposed to die the next day. I could hear. I was a teen, but... I was very cool and calm.
My back hurt and my... Behind of my legs hurt because of the slightly burn. And let all my mother taught me that the flower print, for example, was also burnt. My hand was sort of shrinked up to my skin. Like a hundred years old woman in my skin was so shrinked. Yeah, terrific pain. It's very painful. Especially put down and hurt. So I had to put it up like this and then working like this. Many people working like this and hanging like this. And I didn't know I had to burn my face and my body. I did have radiation sickness right after the bomb, but I had a... The usual symptoms. Daria knows you. Or lost weight. Lost my hair.
Then my hair started falling off. And then it started affecting my hair. And then everything started draining out of my hair. I was lying in bed. I can never move. When I got well and when I was first time when I went back to the city, everybody looked at me. I didn't have any hair. My face was just red. You know, when after you burned my skin was all gone. So I didn't have any skin. My face was just like... What do you call it? Debo. Debo. They were just ugly. You can't even make a mask that's so... Such a horrible looking face. And so I always looked at them and I said, if they die, they won't know. And they won't have to go through that. You think at that time when you heard like that,
this was the most kind of way of going. They're living. Well, first time I saw myself, actually the wrong time, I didn't see myself, because everybody took away a mirror or whatever I can see things. And also, they still tell me I'm continually covering. So it will be better, it will be better. So one day, I saw myself on a piece of grass on the floor. I looked down and I didn't recognize. I didn't think that was me. Accidentally, it was just a reflection of me. I just looked and then I realized that was me. When I realized that at the time, I felt like somebody put the cold ice water back in the back to my neck and all the good people come out and couldn't believe it. Then I said to myself,
this is still recovering. It will be better later. Okay, if you're talking about my brother, about the third day, I was informed that he was sitting underneath a lamp pole by the city hall, completely burned, asking for water. That was the last information I had about him. But still, in the Japanese tradition, you're supposed to look for your family. So even as a 13-year-old, where I evacuated to, it must have been about 15 miles away. I walked with three weeks every single day looking from a grandparents and my brother. And when I went back to the house and they told me to look where the bricks are, you know, the roofs are all bricks. They said, if you find an oral spot, that's where you will find your family.
So you remove the brick. And here comes the arm. It's, of course, by that time it's decayed. You pull an arm out, and it just comes out. So next day, I got the wheelbarrow, wood and paper, and matches, shovel, and dug my grandparents out, and cremated them. I think under normal circumstances, you couldn't do that, but under those circumstances, you know you have to take care of your family, so you do those things. It was a feeling of really loneliness and looking at the devastation of the whole city, wondering why God left me here alone. You know, why He didn't take me, too. Um... At the time, yeah, I did want it to go, too. I thought I should have gone, too, instead of being left alone. Over 80% of the people within one kilometer of the bomb's hypocenters died,
either instantly or soon afterwards. By December of 1945, it has been estimated that 140,000 people died in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki. Thousands of children and elderly victims were orphaned, and suicide was not infrequent. By 1950, another 140,000 people died from the continuing effects of radiation exposure. Since then, radiation-related cancer deaths may be as high as 100,000, putting the total deaths at close to a half million. The fire went on, for nearly two months. Everything was burned down. But many of my friends, our friends were killed, all of them became sick.
But in all the atmosphere was not too bad, because we, Japanese, you know, take the things in a way that we... There's a big nation, and then it happened. Well, it happened. We take it, and we just try to live. So, I didn't find many business there. Of course, some mothers, who lost their children, were sad, but they tried to, you know, recover. And then, what touched me so much was many people who never thought about the region or the life after this world came to us, and then our chapel, a church, were just filled with people. They wanted no more about what is going on after this world, after this suffering.
And a return to the United States about early part of 1948. How did you feel about getting back to the United States? I was delighted because my mothers and brothers and sisters were here, and I missed them during that time I was in Japan. Yes, when I came to the United States, first of all, I hated to come back. I hated Americans. I came because my husband was here. And it took me a long time to get over that feeling. The use of the atomic bomb, I think that's the best thing that happened in that war at that time, because I don't think the Japanese, Japan was doing well. They didn't have any food left, they didn't have any war materials.
I'm surprised at how many people feel killed, they're personally dropped at themselves. And then I turn around feeling sorry for them because they feel so guilty. I know many people. They say that, when they heard that, I'm a evocation. You know what they say? Please forgive me. They don't have to. But that's kind of a nice people there. When the bomb was dropped and afterwards and many years following dead, I've never felt any angry toward the United States because I am one of the United States citizens. But I feel, I felt sad that, you know, our leaders had to drop the bomb on a populated area. And I feel, I feel that they should have been able to drop it in an unpopulated area. And even then, the United,
the people of Japan and the leaders of Japan would have realized that it was no use and continued to fight against the United States. Coming back to the United States, of course, was a glorious day for me because I'm a Californian and I was just coming home. Coming back, it was a thrill that you can't imagine because this is my country, even during the wartime, dream about your country, the streets you walked, the trees you climbed. Japan was a temporary place for me. It wasn't my country. I just had been cried. I knew I was home, I was safe. You have to eat them up, don't you?
Since the war, many of the survivors have tried to put the harsh memories away of Hiroshima and Nagasaki into the back. Sheridan Tatsuno, spokesperson for the Committee of Atomic Bomb Survivors in the USA. As most of the Americans, they wanted to reestablish their lives, to build their families,
settle down, have nice homes and a job. And for most of the survivors, they wanted to really push the war experience behind them. They wanted to lead normal lives. However, exposure to radiation and exposure to the atomic bomb is something that you can't push aside because it lingers with you as long as you live. Dr. Thomas L. Robertson. It was recognized after the bomb was dropped, that there were many survivors there that were likely to have adverse effects from the radiation, yet very little was known about the human effects, particularly at that time. Dr. Robertson spent eight years in Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the Department of Medicine of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation. So it was recognized that there was a unique opportunity to look at the late effects with a large population that was essentially a random population, not a selected one,
and this provided a uniquely powerful, if I can use that term, instrument to study the late effects of radiation. My name is Takashimaki Nodan. I'm the Director of Geratric Center here at the VA Waswood Hospital. I'm also a Professor of Medicine at UCLA. For the past few years, we have been interested in the long-term effects of low-dose ionizing radiation, and as a consequence, we have been carrying out animal studies and also studying the A-Bomb survivors living here in the United States. Well, since somehow it's, I guess it's part of me and I suppose it's the examination once in a while. And about six or seven years ago, I went to a physical check-up in Los Angeles, and I told the doctor,
I got a bomb in Hiroshima, so I wanted to get a check-up. And it seems like he didn't care or he didn't have much knowledge about it. From the atomic explosion and the buildings crashed on her, the glass went into her body, several different places and her back, head, side, face everywhere. And even today, she still has some glass particles that's in her head with a lump, you can feel a hard place in there. If you mash it, it's just like sticking yourself with a needle. And in the past, we have picked out a few pieces of glass, and there's still some that's remaining in there that is never coming out. It's a matter of... At the present, they diagnose her as a chronic osmotic,
which comes from radiation effects from the atomic bomb. It's a shortness of breath, she gets to where she cannot breathe, and she's gasping for air, and it's a matter of getting oxygen to her, getting the respirator going, and getting her to a hospital for medical help at that time. After this, it takes her a while to come back to fairly normal, but each time it takes a while. How long does it take her a day? The past 10 years now, she's approximately just continued to progress, getting worse. She hasn't been feeding well for the last 10, 15 years, and actually Dr. Kenna is trying to find out what is wrong with her. She's never satisfied in her mind, and also not only in her mind,
she thinks that she is a true victim of a bomb, and then because of the a bomb, something is going wrong in her body. And of course, my sister and I came back to the Hiroshima shortly after the bomb was dropped, so I'm very much sure that we were exposed to the radio and active. Following exposure to radiation from the atomic bombs, the first major effect was leukemia. This was observed within the first two years after exposure. Within six years, there was quite a marked increase in the incidence of leukemia, and subsequently, the incidence has dropped off, but probably has not reached the normal background level yet. So there's still probably some excess leukemia. In the last 20 years, in other words, beginning about 10 or 15 years after exposure, solid tumors began to increase. So that now, what is being seen
is excess incidence of thyroid cancer, of breast cancer, of lung cancer, and of other cancers in general. This is the major effect that is being observed at the present time. Well, my health right now is, it's fine, but the doctor says, there's something wrong with it. Well, in 1979, they found cancer of my uterus, and I had a stomach to be done, and they found that the cancer was in my stomach, so they gave me radiation treatment. Her husband got sick. She didn't know what is long, but finally, after a test, the disease was stomach cancer and lung cancer. And of course, he got operation and half of the stomach took that out, but three days after, unfortunately, he died.
It was a cancer. She thinks, probably, due to the abombs, that's what she's still thinking about. She feels very sorry about it. It's also important to know that women are experiencing a higher risk of cancer than men exposed, and this can be attributed mostly to the higher incidence of thyroid cancer in women that were exposed to radiation, and also the fact that women have a higher incidence of risk cancer. The fact that they're all aware that the abombs survive is more vulnerable to cancer formation. I'm sure this plays a major part in their problems of anxiety. How concerned is that because the immune system plays a major role in defending one's body against cancer formation, we suspect that the cells of the immune system
may be one of the more vulnerable targets of low-dose radiation. After years, and since the developing of all, kidney failure, and then anemic. She just can't remember so many things and then we can't remember her. She just seemed like I was always cold, even on the hottest days of the summer, if there was a slight cold breeze, I would be cold. And finally, because I felt good all the time, except for this coldness, I never went for treatment, but I finally decided to learn why, and then I learned that I was anemic, and also had a hypothyroid problem, and later I learned that these were typical problems from radiation. Other than cancer, late effects from radiation exposure include cataracts
that were observed fairly soon after the exposure to the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Also, I studied, done in the early 50s, showed an excess occurrence of early menopause in women who were heavily exposed. In addition to that, we have seen an excess incidence of coronary heart disease and stroke in women in Hiroshima. There are differences in the effects observed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and this can be explained by the differences in the radiation from those two bombs. In Hiroshima, there was a large content of neutrons, which are higher energy radioactive waves in comparison with Nagasaki, where most of the energy was in gamma rays, which are high-frequency x-rays. Now, neutrons are more potent in human tissue, or in mammalian tissue in general,
and cause more damaging effects than gamma rays. Dorothy Stru, writer and teacher at the University of California, Berkeley. One of the most articulate and interesting survivors that I've met is Mariko Lindsay, whose younger than most of the other survivors, because her mother was pregnant with her about two months pregnant when the bomb fell. Her mother was going into the city to work on tearing down the fire lane in the center of the city when the bomb fell. The children that were exposed in their mother's wombs in the first three months have had remarkable excess incidents of small head size and low IQs. This particular fact is one that occurs at quite low doses, at least in Hiroshima, where there was a heavy exposure to neutrons. In Hiroshima, there are many men treated children about my age,
and we call this small-headed children. I think I was lucky because I wasn't mentored at it, but when I was in ABCC, they are checking my IQ test, and then now I know why they check my IQ because all these children existed because of radiation. Robert J. Lichten, professor of psychiatry at Yale University, author of Death in Life, a study of the psychological impact of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Now, it's known that those who infants who work in utero or embryos who work in utero at the time of the bomb are vulnerable severely to atomic bomb effects because that's very young tissue of the kind that's most vulnerable. That, of course, is different from genetic effects on the subsequent generations, and there it's known that radiation can have these genetic effects. Nobody can say they can't, and there have been some abnormal chromosomes demonstrated in second-generation people. So far, fortunately, they haven't convincingly demonstrated
any increase in abnormalities genetically transmitted, but there always is that possibility of these abnormalities showing up. Moreover, as people in Hiroshima know all too well in Nagasaki, if these effects don't show up in the second generation, they could show up in the third generation. And no scientist, no authority, can guarantee the people that there won't be these effects. A lot of this is simply unknown, but the possibilities are there and because the possibility is there, the fear is there. In fact, when she was the babies of the kids were small, she had a nervous breakdown, and now that I think about it, I think it was from that that she had to go to the doctor so many months, and actually the doctor says that he couldn't find anything wrong, with her. Have you ever worried about your mother? Um, yeah, sometimes,
I've had a few of my friends that were in the bomb, and I guess my best friend Kenny, he died when he was about 16 from Kenya, and his mother was in Nagasaki, so we're about ourselves and my mom and my sister and I. It's something that's always there hanging over our head. We don't know what really is going to happen to us. It isn't for sure what the ultimate effects are going to be. Now, we can project from the data we've collected and say, well, we think we've seen most of the diseases that are going to occur, and that we're probably plateaued, and that later on, the tumors will taper off, and there will be less disease, and that we have relatively little more to worry about. However, we cannot say that with certainty, and that's the reason why we continue to observe the people that were exposed to be sure that we have seen all of the effects. So given this fact, we cannot tell the survivors with complete certainty that the observed effects so far
are the limit of what's going to happen. Okay, well, all the sister, Margie, she's about 26 right now, and what I can remember is that she always, she had some disease with her tongue, and I think it was called lymph and joma, or something like that, and she always had, I think she had like four tracheatomies, and she went through a lot, she was always in the hospital, and we know it was little, I could still remember her, and I don't know if this relates to the atomic bomb or anything, but it might, because my mom had thyroid problems and so that might relate to it, and my oldest brother Robert, he's 18, and I think no, he's 19, and he had a lymph node problem, and he had to get operated on a couple years ago.
It's weird, it might be all connected together, but we're not sure yet. Thank you. Well, I don't, I don't have any problems so far, but I do have like this lump in my neck, but it's probably something to do with my lymph nodes, but I haven't gotten it checked out yet or anything. It's always scary. I don't think how many times you deal with it, you're never comfortable. You're always hoping for the best, but you never know what will happen. I remember very vividly when I was doing my research in Hiroshima, I had a talk with a physician, a Hiroshima doctor who was himself something of a hero during the atomic bomb experience. He himself was exposed to the atomic bomb, had symptoms of radiation effects, but kept on treating people. Later on, he continued his devotion to this issue, and I talked to him years later,
and he said, you know, he said, if I'm shaving in the morning and I have a little cut, and the blood doesn't dry too quickly, I wonder, maybe this is it. That's the general kind of feeling. People just don't know. If you're an atomic bomb survivor, but you have no external manifestations of it, well, sometimes you can kind of pass, as we say, that is, nobody can know your atomic bomb survivor unless you tell it to them. That has its problems and its difficulties, but it's nonetheless true. If you have scar formation, if you have a kiloid scar, you can't pass in that way. Nobody can avoid noticing that, and you then go through life something like the experience of the person who has some deaf formation. It makes people uncomfortable to look at you, and you know that. They feel guilty and awkward in looking at you, and you know that. So every single human encounter has a dimension of awkwardness,
and therefore a kind of mutual exchange of awkwardness, guilt, and shame. It's a heavy burden. A particular group of some importance in all this is the so-called Hiroshima Maidens. The last of the Hiroshima Maidens depart for home after a year and a half of plastic surgery in this country, which diminished but could not remove the scars they bore from the Hiroshima atom bomb. Living reminders of the horror brought by the atom bomb in its first use against civilians, they say now that their sacrifice was worth it. If only the atom has never again used in war. We stayed a year and a half, maybe more, a little more. Stayed in New York, my site in the hospital, had a plastic surgery operation. I have done my face, my lips, and I have a little more left here where I don't want to do any more.
All together, twenty-five or six operations all together. And it took me ten years in the hospital life, in and out, in and out. But the Keyloid scar does is epitomize. It just is the direct concrete representation of the atomic bomb experience, both to the person with the scar and to those who see the person with the scar. One day, I have a son. He was elementary school, I think, a second or third grade. I was picking him up at school. He was inviting his classmates. They are coming into the car. The little boy said, it's my son. What happened to your mother's face? And my son said, I told you not to mention in front of her. I told you what happened.
He felt I might hurt. He was so care about me. And one time, he's saying to his friend, my mother's a lucky, she's alive. She never died. And so, one thing I'm so grateful, he doesn't feel he has a looks strange mother. He doesn't feel ashamed of me. After coming back to this stage, I used to have dreams of picking up and screaming nightmares, dreaming about my brother, coming back with amnesia because I never found his body. I was just playing full anxiety, I guess, because I would shake. I couldn't really function at work. I had to stay at alpha work.
I was referred to a psychiatrist. A survivor always asked himself, herself, why did I survive while he, she or they, died. That's the beginning of what we call survivor guilt, or sometimes guilt over survival priority. What priority did I have in living while he or she or they died? It's a haunting personal question. When never fully satisfactorily answers it. In fact, this feeling begins at the moment the bomb falls, when one's ordinary self would have in some way tried to combat it or tried to save people. There was no opportunity to save people, people struggled desperately and they could to save their children or somebody in their family. And they had great difficulty doing even that. Yet they remained haunted by the cries of others around them, cries to help or save them which they couldn't answer. I think I'm pretty well put together now, emotionally, psychologically, and so forth. But again, if something catastrophic happens, you cannot predict.
Of course, this is what everyone is not only me, but the flashbacks do come back. I always get up in the middle of night and start screaming. What did you dream of? What did I dream? I dream about all my classmates and all that and fire. You know, that's all I can see is fire and we're trying to get out. All the classmates that was dead is just standing around there just staring at me. They never say a word. Every person that I've ever talked to has that one memory of a little child on the bridge or somebody in the water
or somebody who was burning under a house that they couldn't save. And they carry that with them always. That's what it is that I feel guilty that I'm alive and they died. I guess that's just a guilt feeling. Really, I have. I stopped talking. You know, I feel so bad. But always think about it. Right? Yes. The Americans just don't understand what an atomic bomb does to people or how it's different from other weapons. They don't understand the after effects in the lifelong fear of delayed radiation effects. That's different from being exposed even to a horrible conventional weapon which is bad enough. In a conventional bombing, you clear things up, you resume your life, and you go about things as usual. You still retain psychological scars,
but not equal to those of the atomic bomb where you have this lifelong encounter with death from this one moment in time. Sometimes when one talks about the atomic bombing and the effects on people, well, the American answer is yes, but they bomb Pearl Harbor so therefore they deserve it or why should I feel sorry for them. I think that shows a misunderstanding. Of course Pearl Harbor was terrible and was wrong to do. But the atomic bombing is a universal problem. It's something added to conventional weapons. It's a new dimension of weaponry that this bombing initiates, brings into being. We should understand it that way. It's a new level of problem for all of humankind, for us as well. So it doesn't do to just respond with Pearl Harbor. Many of the people have received hostile phone calls and hate mail. And I think after one or two incidents, many people would rather be quiet. And then we've also had the unfortunate experience where about three or four of the survivors in Los Angeles declared themselves as survivors
and immediately after that their insurance policy, health insurance policies were withdrawn. And when everybody else found out about that incident, they decided not to talk. I think it's difficult for physicians in the United States without having this exposure to a large number of people who were exposed to radiation from the bombs. To understand just how atomic bomb survivors feel and the concern and a worry and fear that they have for the future. The fact that they have difficulty obtaining insurance, the fact that employers discriminate against them, not giving them jobs because of their radiation exposure, makes them even more concerned than they would be otherwise. They're not the kind of people who demonstrate or who shout or who make a lot of noise. So they're struggling and they're not going to give that up. Of course, they're struggling to achieve this goal in a very calm way.
And what they want are medical benefits to keep them surviving for the rest of their lives and keep them healthy as long as they can stay that way. They're not really interested in anything else. And as Kanji Kuramoto, the president, has said, he said, we're just a group of little old ladies, Japanese-American ladies, trying to get some medical benefits before it's too late. It's all right. You've got any chips or nuts I think on here? I'm not people like you. The time within married now, too many years think by right now, 27 years or something. I guess I could say in some ways maybe just drawn us closer together over the years.
I have a sort of a fear that many people are forgetting what had happened and they don't realize what kind of tragedy could occur by the use of the atomic bomb or hydrogen bomb or for that many kind of war. If we don't learn from these things that happened in the past, the people that died in the war and the other war or in my case, especially the people that died in atomic bomb, that will be meaningless. And if we learn from that, I think at least they didn't die in vain. I don't want to go through not just myself suffered in the war. Many, many people suffered, especially innocent people who suffered. And people who are not the directory hurt,
a lot of people's children's and family hurt, many, many in directory, because so many people suffered the war. And I don't want to go through it again. And also why I survived so much hurt like this, because I felt that God gave me life to live, to my mission, to help, to tell my experience, to show people how the war is bad. If, many times, I'm so happy to survive today. I thank you for, so I just try to speak myself for an answer against use for the atomic bomb for the human or alive people, for ever.
Has experience of being in Hiroshima changed or outlook on life? I would say no, but when I think about it, I guess it really has, because there's a first time I had experienced war, first hand, and seen such devastation, and loss of human life. And I think I value life more for that. Life is too short to be concerned about those little things that don't matter, because to live every day happily and safely is very important to me. Judy and Secky died of cancer two months after this interview took place in Los Angeles. She is survived by her son, Paul. It's not often that I get to be in front of a camera, being interviewed like this, and to state publicly how proud I am of her, and her involvement, and dedication in this group has been. I just love her a whole lot. I think she's a great woman.
She reminds me a great deal by her participation and her presence of what happened, of what my past has been, and what people can do and how they can survive and how they're living through atomic blast. Music Ten years ago a few survivors met to form a kind of friendship circle to talk about their common experiences and health problems. They formed the Committee of Atomic Bomb Survivors in the USA to gain medical benefits from the United States government. Since 1972, several bills have been introduced to Congress and all of them have failed.
These efforts continue. Led by a survivor named Kanji Kuramoto, atomic bomb victims in California, Washington, and Hawaii, are urging further research of the delayed effects of radiation exposure and are trying to find some way to pay for their medical expenses. Today, almost 40 years after the end of World War II, the world's nuclear weapons now possess powers of destruction estimated to be more than one million times as great as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Music Music
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Contributing Organization
Center for Asian American Media (San Francisco, California)
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Program Description
Documentary interviews Japanese American survivors forty years after the drop of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending WWII.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
World War, 1939-1945 -- Japan -- Hiroshima-shi; Hiroshima Maidens; Committee of Atomic Bomb Survivors (CABS)
MCMLXXXII. S. Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.
Media type
Moving Image
Director: Okazaki, Steven
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Center for Asian American Media
Identifier: 00007 (CAAM)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Master
Color: Color
Duration: 00:58:41
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Chicago: “Survivors,” 1982-00-00, Center for Asian American Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024,
MLA: “Survivors.” 1982-00-00. Center for Asian American Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Survivors. Boston, MA: Center for Asian American Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from