Tokuso Hamai

Lost lives never come back

8. War must never be started

When I was 11 years old, I lost my entire family to the atomic bombing.  I am truly grateful for being brought up with care at my uncle’s house.  I believe it was because of my uncle and his wife that I was able to grow up without feeling despair.  However, there is no denying that somewhere in my heart, I was always conscious about the way I behaved toward my uncle and his family.  I never once called them “uncle” or “aunt” while I was being raised.  I would always just tell them what needed to be said brusquely.  I can’t explain in words why, but I guess I harbored some complicated feelings that wouldn’t let me get fully attached to them.

Once a person’s life is lost, it can never be recovered.  I lost my house, my town, my everything.  All the stores and schools where I misbehaved and got scolded as a child had turned into ash.  I don’t know how many times I thought, “If only there had been no atomic bomb.”  Even now, when I go near the A-bomb Dome, it makes my heart ache.  I don’t want to walk by it, especially at night, because it is frightening.  When the movement to preserve the A-bomb Dome arose, I was opposed to it.  I could understand the view that preserving it would help convey the horrors of the atomic bomb to future generations.  However, for someone like me, whose happy memories of playing every day as a child always included the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall (present A-bomb Dome), I only wanted it to continue to exist in my happy memories.  My honest feeling is that I didn’t want to see the Dome in a state when everything was taken away, sad and in pain.

A long time ago, I participated in a tour, traveling from Hokkaido to Kyushu.  There were 36 participants from all over Japan.  We had traveled together for days, and yet no one was interested in Hiroshima or even knew about the atomic bomb.  I was shocked to find out that once outside of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no peace education was being taught.  People who have never actually experienced war or do not know the horrors that war can cause may assertively talk about “revising the constitution” and “doubling the defense spending.”  I hope that Japan will continue to not have nuclear weapons and to uphold its pacifist constitution.  War must never be started.