A survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima who later became an evacuee from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is the subject of a monodrama being performed at Haiyuza Theater in Tokyo.
Masahiro Endo had the misfortune of twice being exposed to high levels of radiation in his lifetime. Actor Hiroshi Kamiyama, 80, who has been performing one-person shows, is telling Endo’s life and story on stage. The show runs through Aug. 4.
“Aug. 6 and March 11. The two never-to-be-forgotten dates have been carved into my body and my life,” Endo, 87, said in an interview near his current residence in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture.
He was evacuated from his home in the Odaka district of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, which was designated a part of the no-entry zone after the crisis started at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Even though the evacuation rules have been relaxed, the Odaka district is still under strict entry restrictions.
Endo was born in Fukushima Prefecture. He was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army immediately before the nation's defeat in World War II in 1945.
While fighting in China and being transported to Japan, his health suffered, and he was sent to an army hospital in Hiroshima.
At the time of the atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, Endo was in the hospital, 2.5 kilometers from ground zero. In the "black rain," he wandered around the area with other survivors, whose skin was hanging from their bodies due to the effects of the nightmarish blast. At war's end, Endo returned home and became an employee at the Odaka town office (present-day Minami-Soma).
After he retired, he turned his attention to haiku and tea ceremony, his favorite pastimes.
His peaceful life took a sharp turn due to the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. He and his family--his 84-year-old wife and 58-year-old daughter--were forced to evacuate. All he had with him was his wallet, health insurance card and an atomic bomb survivor's certificate for those officially recognized as "hibakusha," under the atomic bomb victims relief law.
Director Miru Yamaguchi, a friend of Kamiyama's, discovered Endo's tragic story as a potential subject for a monodrama. She had been looking for material for the performance of a war theme at the Haiyuza.
Yamaguchi, 50, happened to find a collection of testimonies of A-bomb survivors, published 30 years ago in Minami-Soma, from her father’s bookshelf. She was struck by Endo's candid writing.
He wrote about his life and his thoughts--that he has not been to Hiroshima after 1945 because he did not want to remember the horrors of the aftermath of the atomic bomb; his involvement in a campaign to attract a nuclear power plant; and the campaign in which he tried to convince landlords to support a plant, saying, “Nuclear power is a peaceful industry, unlike the atomic bomb. As a hibakusha, I understand the horrors of radioactivity. We guarantee safety.”
Yamaguchi learned in June that Endo had been greatly affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident. She and Kamiyama visited Endo and interviewed him. The hibakusha accepted her request to write a script for a monodrama based on the interview.
“As I had believed that Japan would win the war, I believed that nuclear power is safe,” Endo said. “I feel ashamed.”
He said he will see the monodrama in Tokyo.
“I would be happy if my experience will be of any help for peace,” he said.
Endo also said he would like to visit Hiroshima, to come to grips with his experience from nearly 70 years ago.
- « Prev
- Next »