Yoshiko Kajimoto

The Evil Will Be Repeated, Unless We Convey It

7. What made me start telling my experiences

My husband, Kazuo, had been undergoing dialysis treatment for a long time and finally passed away in 2000. After the 49th Day Service for him, the one of the ritual Buddhist memorial services for the deceased, my granddaughter said to me, “Grandma, now Grandpa is gone away. Do you have anything to live for?” Then she continued, “Why don’t you tell your A-bomb experiences to people? I think it is something no one but A-bomb survivors can do.”

I had never thought of such a thing and wondered why she recommended it. She told me about two A-bomb survivors who had been invited to her high school to tell their stories. Listening to them, she realized her generation knew very little about the A-bombing and should know more. At that time, my son-in-law, who was a civil servant, coincidentally, was in Peace Promotion Division of the Citizens Affairs Bureau. He talked about me to Mr. Akihiro Takahashi, who was then the director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. I was told to write up my A-bomb experience, although I wasn’t confident enough to speak in public yet. Then I had an interview with five interviewers, including Mr. Takahashi. At the interview, I was very nervous, but I passed the interview. I was going to start talking to people as an official Hiroshima story-teller in March of the following year, but I was still not confident.

The first time I talked as an A-bomb survivor was to elementary school students from Kure. They were attentive listeners. They leaned forward and listened to me eagerly, which has encouraged me ever since. I was instructed to use simple words as much as possible in talking to young students. So I always try to adapt myself to the age range of the audience, avoiding using some words to school children such as, “Manchurian Incident,” “totan,” or “galvanized-iron plate,” “hibachi,” or a “charcoal brazier,” “student mobilization” and “evacuation to a rural area.”

About a month after I started talking as a hibakusha story teller, I had an opportunity to tell my story to American high school students. In the question and answer session, a boy asked me if I had a grudge against the U.S. I answered, “No. Though I did have a grudge for about ten years after the A-bombing, now I don’t.” To my surprise, he deeply bowed to me and said, “I am very sorry.” The boy, who was so young and had no responsibility for the A-bombings at all, expressed a deep and sincere apology to me. Seeing him, my resentment entirely disappeared. Everything is forgivable to me now.