Each time photographer Keizo Yoshida releases the shutter of his camera, he tells himself, "There's still time."
The subjects of his photographs are children of hibakusha, or atomic-bomb survivors, and Yoshida is using his camera to preserve their stories. But as the 1945 bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima recede into history, he knows time is against him.
"I think that whether knowledge about exposure to the atomic bombings will be properly passed down the generations depends on the children of hibakusha," Yoshida said. "We are also tasked to deliver hope for the future, not anger or anxiety. We have to think what we mean to others while our parents are alive."
Yoshida, 51, is also a second-generation hibakusha, but all he knew was that his mother was in Nagasaki when an atomic bomb was dropped there 67 years ago.
He said he was asked about the bombing when he visited Cambodia to take photos of land-mine victims, but he could give only few answers.
From 2003, Yoshida visited second-generation hibakusha across the country to find out what they think and the kind of lives they lead.
But nine out of 10 people refused to meet with him, he said. Some wanted to leave the tragedy in the past. Others were concerned about promoting discrimination if they talked about it.
It took eight years for Yoshida to photograph 108 people in 24 prefectures, and he is holding an exhibition of those pictures in Tokyo through Aug. 20.
"I want people to be aware that the experiences of the atomic bombings are not things of the past, but an ongoing issue at hand," he said.
Yoshida, a native of Omura, Nagasaki Prefecture, choose a career as a member at the Self-Defense Forces after graduating from a junior high school. After serving in a tank regiment, he left the SDF in 1985, and then traveled around the world.
Yoshida said he saw the bloody body of a man who died in a fight with guerrillas in a country in Latin America. He said he felt there for the first time that the violence of war was commonplace. Until then, it had only occurred for him on the shooting range.
After returning to Japan, he studied at a photography college. He has been taking photos since 1994, while making a living in civil engineering work and nursing care. He now lives alone in Tokyo in an apartment that has no bath.
Yoshida said he will devote his life to being a photographer.
- « Prev
- Next »