英語:“Hiroshima: 70 Years After the Atomic Bomb”

HIROSHIMA, Japan—Every year, Koko Tanimoto Kondo tours her hometown carrying the tiny, tattered pink tunic she wore on the day, 70 years ago, when she and her family survived the world’s first atomic bombing.

On storytelling tours near the Aug. 6 anniversary, Ms. Kondo, who was just 8 months old when the bomb hit, tells students about the devastation that destroyed her childhood home and haunted her for decades.

She shares the humiliation she felt as a teenager, standing naked on a stage while doctors and scientists scrutinized her for signs of radiation’s long-term effects on the body. She recalls when her American fiancé abandoned her days before their wedding because his relatives thought radiation exposure had made her unable to bear children. She offers tales of ordinary Americans who sent food and built homes for the victims, and continued for decades after the war to send checks on birthdays to sons and daughters of Hiroshima connected through “moral adoption.”

Ms. Kondo shows the visitors where her father’s church stood before it collapsed, burying her under the rubble. She takes them to the river that her father crossed in a rowboat to carry victims, some grotesquely burned, to escape the devastation. They go to the Red Cross Hospital, where thousands went for refuge.

Ms. Kondo’s brief appearance in the book “Hiroshima,” by journalist John Hersey, set her on a path to become a messenger from ground zero.

Ms. Kondo’s father, Kiyoshi Tanimoto, was a U.S.-educated minister at a church in Japan. When Mr. Hersey visited Hiroshima in the spring of 1946, Mr. Tanimoto shared with him a detailed account of the horror and chaos he witnessed. In the book, Mr. Tanimoto is described as passing by “rank on rank of the burned and bleeding,” scurrying to find water for dying victims, and removing a dead body from a rowboat to carry those who were still alive, after apologizing to the dead man for doing so.

Ms. Kondo and her mother were buried under the parsonage of her father’s church. Her mother managed to hoist her out of the rubble after chipping away at “a chink of light” that they could eventually fit through. When Rev. Tanimoto was reunited with his wife and baby, he was “so tired that nothing could surprise him.” Mr. Hersey wrote in his account, which first appeared in the New Yorker magazine in August 1946, a year after Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the first and only cities in history to experience a nuclear bombing.

In 1945, the U.S. firebombed major Japanese cities, including Tokyo, and captured Okinawa, but Japan resisted demands for surrender despite its seemingly hopeless position. The U.S. sought to hasten the war’s end with the atomic bombings and avoid an invasion of the main Japanese islands. Japan surrendered six days after the Nagasaki bombing. Historians still debate whether the U.S. could have achieved a similar outcome without using nuclear weapons.

Rev. Tanimoto’s association with Mr. Hersey threw him into the center of the antinuclear movement in postwar America.

On a trip to the U.S. in 1955, Rev. Tanimoto was invited to Los Angeles to appear on an NBC show called “This Is Your Life.”

The show had arranged for several surprise guests, including Ms. Kondo and her family, who were flown in from Japan. Another surprise was an appearance by Capt. Robert Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay, the American bomber that hit Hiroshima.

For a while, the 10-year-old Ms. Kondo stared at Capt. Lewis. She had always dreamed of what it would be like to “kick, bite or punch those bad guys.” Instead, she walked over to the retired airman and touched his hand. Moments earlier, she had seen tears well up in his eyes when the show’s host asked him how he had felt after dropping the bomb. Capt. Lewis told the host, Ms. Kondo recalls, that he wrote in his flight log: “My god, what have we done?”

“That was the moment I changed,” Ms. Kondo said, speaking to a group of young artists from Japan and the U.S. earlier this year. “I said to myself, ‘God, please forgive me for hating this guy. If I hate, I should hate the war.’ ”

Ms. Kondo later married a Japanese man who became a pastor, and they adopted two daughters. Now, she travels frequently to tell her story across Japan and the U.S.

Ms. Kondo’s work, multiplied thousands of times by similar voices, helps explain why pacifism runs deep in Japan. For generations now, in classrooms, in the media and in conversations with older relatives, the Japanese have learned about the devastation of World War II.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe felt the force of that pacifism when he proposed legislation to expand the role of Japan’s military overseas, seeking to counteract new threats to the nation’s security, such as China’s growing territorial ambition. The move required his government to revise its interpretation of the constitution, written by U.S. occupation forces after Japan’s defeat.

Mr. Abe’s decision to push the legislation through parliament’s lower house last month, which sets up final passage by September, drove his once-solid approval rating below 40%.

“Because of our experience in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, more than any other country, must say loudly that war is evil,” says Ms. Kondo. “This country has Article 9 of the constitution that no other country has. It’s a real shame that they are trying to throw it out the window.”

Mr. Abe’s aides say the notion that pacifism has kept Japan from war ignores the protection it receives from the world’s most powerful military—the U.S. The new legislation would ensure Tokyo can help Washington in time of crisis, says Mr. Abe, and he has received support from President Barack Obama.
“Those who have long avoided expressing their political views are beginning to speak up,” says Akihiko Kimijima, professor of constitutional law at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. Ritsumeikan has sponsored the annual student tour of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in partnership with American University in Washington since 1995. Ms. Kondo has accompanied the tour since 1996.

This year, Cannon Hersey, a New York artist and a grandson of John Hersey, met Ms. Kondo in Hiroshima. Mr. Hersey, who had spent months researching the legacy of his grandfather, came with a surprise gift: a nine-page handwritten memo Rev. Tanimoto wrote for the author when he visited Hiroshima in 1946. The memo helps explain how John Hersey managed to gain so many details for his book even though he probably only stayed in the city for about three weeks, the young Mr. Hersey says.

With the ranks of survivors dwindling, Ms. Kondo said she feels a stronger urge than ever to share her story.

“If you stir water in a big washtub with a chopstick, nothing happens first. But if you keep stirring, eventually, you get the water to flow in one direction,” Ms. Kondo said. “That’s why I keep talking to young students. The only thing I can do is to believe in each one of them.”

(c) WSJ












谷本氏は1955年の訪米時、ロサンゼルスに招かれ、「This Is Your Life(これがあなたの人生だ)」という米NBCのテレビ番組に出演した。


10歳になっていた近藤さんはしばらくルイス大尉を見つめていた。ずっと「悪いやつを蹴っ飛ばしたりかみついたり、たたきたい」と思っていたのに、近藤さんはルイス氏のところに歩いていって、その手に触れた。その直前、近藤さんは、番組の司会者に原爆を投下したあとどんな気持ちだったかと聞かれたルイス氏の目に涙があふれていることに気付いていた。近藤さんの記憶によると、ルイス氏は飛行日誌に「My god, what have we done?(ああ、私たちはなんてことをしてしまったんだ)」と書き込んだと答えた。












(c) WSJ