Shizuko Abe

An A-bomb Survivor as a Living Testifier

4. Saburo Returned Home

After getting married to me in Hiroshima, my husband, Saburo, returned to his unit in Manchuria, and he was soon transferred to the southern front in Truk Lagoon (present Chuuk Lagoon). Truk Lagoon was Japan’s main naval base in the South Pacific theatre. It had many large and small islands and was considered ideal for battleships to hide. So the Imperial Japanese Navy used Truk as an anchorage in the Southern front. On, February 17-18, 1944, the United States Navy conducted a massive air and surface attack on Truk Lagoon, sinking a number of Japanese auxiliary ships and cargo ships in the harbor and killing more than 7,000 Japanese. After the attack over two days, the U.S. no longer considered Truk a major Japanese stronghold, removing it from further attack. However, about 15,000 Japanese soldiers were stranded on the Truk Islands without any supply line, and they faced starvation. Saburo said he was left on a small island named Enderby Island in Truk Lagoon until his demobilization back to Japan. He told me that soldiers had run out of food on the island, but on December 30, 1945, he returned home.


I wasn’t happy at all when Saburo came for me to my parents’ house. I didn’t want him to see me because I was ugly with bandages on my entire body like a mummy. My father said to him, “Shizuko was an ordinary young girl when I married her to you. Now she has totally changed from the A-bombing. Please divorce her.” But, Saburo said, “On the battlefield, I saw a lot of tragic deaths of my fellow soldiers. I was in the situation where I could have lost my arms or legs any time. But I went through that situation believing that even if I were handicapped from injury, my wife would take care of me back in Japan. Shizuko was my anchor then. So whatever condition she is in, I will take care of her.” Hearing that, my mother-in-law said, “What an idiot my son is!”

I am grateful from my heart for Saburo staying with me. I changed to ugly, but he didn’t leave me. Moreover, taking me into consideration, he decided to live in Hiroshima, my hometown, although his hometown was Osaka.