English Edition of WWII Survivors’ Memories Completed, Available Online

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kazuko Kawada, left, and Sachiko Yoshimura hold copies of “70 Years After the A-bombing; 70 Years after the War — My Memories of 1945,” in Hiroshima.

HIROSHIMA — A dual language (Japanese/English) book of remembrances by survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and others who suffered during or after the war has recently been completed.

The new tome — “70 Years After the A-bombing; 70 Years after the War — My Memories of 1945,” was translated from a 2016 Japanese-language book. Copies of the new version of the book — which includes Japanese and English versions, so that readers can compare them — concentrates on the reminiscences of women in particular, and will be distributed to libraries and other public facilities and displayed online.

In 2015, the Association for the Promotion of Gender Equality in Hiroshima Prefecture put out a call for hibakushas’ memories and war-related experiences, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the end of World War II.

The association subsequently published a Japanese-language book based upon communications from 42 women, detailing their experiences of the bombing and their daily lives during and shortly after the war.

The Japanese-English version was planned as a memorial project to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the association’s establishment, while transmitting survivors’ memories to the rest of the world.

The project was temporarily suspended due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but volunteers, including students of Hijiyama University in Hiroshima Prefecture, worked on completing the English translation.

An event to celebrate the book’s finalization was held in Hiroshima, in late November.

Speaking at the event, the association’s president Sachiko Yoshimura, said: “We collated these notes to preserve people’s memories regarding the atrocities of war, and to underline our desire for peace for future generations. We’d like it if this text can find uses in various circumstances.”

Copies of the Japanese-English book were presented to contributors during the event.

One contributor, Kazuko Kawada, 92, experienced the atomic bombing at age 13, while participating in wartime labor. Her father and other loved ones perished due to the bombing.

Kawada’s recollections include memories of seeing atomic bomb victims suffering from burns, and her own health problems caused by bomb-related radiation.

Kawada wrote about how she walked around searching for her missing father, seeing many dead bodies and wondering if he might be among them. She said she felt “completely numb.”

Upon receiving a copy of the new version of the book Kawada said, “I’m happy the work has been translated into English and that many people will read it.”

Another contributor Terumi Amabe, 81, said: “Wars are raging in various parts of the world, and it’s significant that our memories have been translated into English. I’d be happy if people overseas learn about what happened in Hiroshima.”

During the event, plans also were announced for a Braille version of the book, also to be compiled by volunteers.

All three versions of the publication are planned to be donated to the Hiroshima Prefectural Library.

The Japanese-English version comes in A4 size and comprises 138 pages. The association has printed 500 copies of the book, and retails for ¥1,000. Copies can be purchased by contacting the association by email (gender1981susumeru@gmail.com).

The English text also can be viewed on the website of Essor Hiroshima (in Japanese) .