NAGASAKI--A-bomb survivor Masahito Hirose knows that female high school students in Fukushima city need reassurance as they worry about the future ramifications of the radiation from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Last autumn, Hirose told of his experiences as an A-bomb survivor to students of Sakura no Seibo Gakuin, a girls’ senior high school in Fukushima city, when they visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum during a school trip.
After the trip, 95 students wrote letters to Hirose. Of these, 75 referred to the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011 or possible effects of radiation from the plant.
One said, “I may not be able to give birth to a healthy baby.” Another asked, “I think that I will not be able to live in Fukushima any more. What should I do?” Another said, “There was a proposal to relocate to a different prefecture. But (if I do so) I will suffer prejudice there on the grounds that I have come from Fukushima."
So, Hirose, 82, came up with the idea of having A-bomb survivors write letters of support to the young women.
He serves as vice director of the subcommittee of the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace, a public organization. Its 36 members convey A-bomb experiences to future generations.
On April 6, subcommittee members agreed to write letters to the Fukushima students.
Initially, on the students' visit to Nagasaki, Hirose hesitated to talk about his experiences. That was mainly because his aunt who went to areas near the epicenter of the 1945 atomic bombing to look for her children died five days later despite the fact that she suffered no injuries from the bombing.
However, a teacher who took the students to the museum told Hirose, “There are various ways of thinking among the students and their guardians. Please tell your experience as usual.” So Hirose followed the request.
Among the letters from the 95 students, there were also some that expressed positive opinions. One said, “I was encouraged by your forward-looking stance.” Another added, “I want to convey my experience to the next generation.”
When Hirose told about his experience to the students, he passed out his business cards. After that, some of the students began to exchange letters or e-mails with him.
However, he thought, “A-bomb survivors in Nagasaki should convey more of their feelings that they have in common with the senior high school students in Fukushima.”
So he proposed that all his subcommittee's storytellers of A-bomb experiences in Nagasaki write to the students.
When he was writing a report on his computer for the subcommittee's April 6 general meeting based on the letters from the students, he was unable to do so easily “because tears began to flow,” he said.
The storytellers have agreed to write the letters of encouragement by early May.
In June, Hirose plans to visit Tokyo for a meeting of A-bomb survivors. At that time, he will travel to Fukushima to deliver the letters to the girls’ senior high school.
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