Shizuko Abe

An A-bomb Survivor as a Living Testifier

9. Meeting the Former President, Harry S Truman

Our group, including eight survivors, met former President Truman on May 5th at the Harry S Truman Presidential Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri. This library holds books and documents on Harry S Truman, who made the decision to drop the atomic bombs. He would have his eightieth birthday three days later. My impression towards him was that he was a red-faced old man. We heard that he had refused to meet any Japanese before then, so no one expected that he would talk with our group of A-bomb survivors. But when he agreed to meet us, many reporters from local newspapers, TV stations and radio stations all over the U.S. gathered to cover the story. The effect of that meeting was so strong that afterwards many people crowded our talks.

I didn’t know how other members felt, but my negative feelings toward the former president disappeared due to the warm hospitality I received from other Americans I met. In the meeting, our leader, Mr. Matsumoto, interviewed the president, who was standing at the podium. In my memory, Barbara was also on the platform. We didn’t have any opportunity to ask him questions or tell our opinions. In his speech, he said, The objective was to end a war in such a way that there would not be half a million men killed on each side and that many injured. And that’s all there was to it. You know, when you are running a war, the objective is to win it. It was necessary.”
We didn’t know whether“it”meant the atomic bombing or war. Even though he didn’t say the words, “I’m sorry,” his face looked sorry.