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TESTIMONIES OF THE ATOMIC BOMB SURVIVORS

vol.6 Mr YOSHITO KAWAGUCHI

published on 2/20/1997, translated by SEIUN HIGH SCHOOL (10/19/2005)
Mr YOSHITO KAWAGUCHI

At the time, I was a second grade student at the former Chinzei Gakuin Junior High School, located in Takenokubo-machi, Nagasaki city. The school building was destroyed by direct exposure to the blast of the atomic bomb. Many teachers were killed. If I had been at school, I would probably not have avoided death.

If I remember correctly, we had to go to school that day. I used to take the train from Nagayo Station, and that morning, my classmates and I were at the station, waiting for a train which hadn’t come because of a delay. Then at about eight o’clock, an air-raid siren was sounded.

There was a rule that we had to return home when we heard the siren, even on our way to school. So I returned home. Some time later, the alarm was lifted and I was supposed to go to school, but I didn’t. I remained at home. My life had been saved by the delay of the train. Luck was on my side.

I was sitting on the veranda with my three-year-old brother when I saw a flash like lightning. A few seconds later we were assailed by a roaring sound and a blast. The frames of the sliding shutters on the veranda broke, the thatched roof floated up and a lot of soot fell on us from the ceiling.

I knew by intuition that a bomb had been dropped and took refuge in the air-raid shelter about 40 meters away. My brother was crying, and when I checked him, I found that a piece of glass from a window had pierced his right leg. I spent the night with my neighbors in the shelter. Volunteer guards told us that a new-type bomb, the same as the one dropped on Hiroshima, had also been dropped on Nagasaki.

Victims came one after another to Nagayo-cho from Nagasaki. Their clothes were ripped to shreds and skin seriously burnt. Some of them died on the way. The first-aid station set up in Nagayo Elementary School was in a state of extreme carnage, and coffins were running short. At the burial ground, the dead bodies carried on boards couldn’d be touched, because the skin easily came off, and they were thrown into the hole like stones, directly from the boards that carried them.

About one thousand people took refuse in the shelter. Of these, 203 died there, and 18 unidentified were buried in Miyamae graveyard nearby. The smell of burnt skin and burnt clothes is branded in my memory.

My father, who went to Nagasaki to rescue people, died at the young age of 45 in 1950. Maybe I was also affected by the atomic bomb, because I can’t sit cross-legged. Recently, I had an opportunity to speak about my experiences at a local junior high school. I think we have to pass down the stories from generation to generation in order not to repeat the misery of the atomic bomb.

TRANSLATED BY
SEIUN HIGH SCHOOL (10/19/2005)

川口美人さん(1997/2/20掲載) 翻訳・青雲高(2005/10/19)

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