International Meeting

2002 World Conference against A & H Bombs

 

Shunji Mukai

A-Bomb Survivor Living in Brazil

 

 

Atomic-bomb Survivors in Brazil are in need of aid

 

1.  I am a survivor of the atomic bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.  Since 1955, I have lived in Brazil.

 

2.  At the time of the atomic bombing, I was 15 and on the student mobilization program for the war at an ammunition factory at Funairi-honcho, 1.3 km away from the hypocenter.  A splinter of glass got stuck in my body, making me bloody.  I suffered burns all over my body.  I fell unconscious for a while after the bombing, but I soon came around when I felt the heat of the approaching fires, and fled to Enami.  My brother Shoji, who is now the vice president of the Association of Atomic-bomb Survivors in Brazil, ran into me.  He saved me.  My parents should have been at home in Honkawa-cho, 500 meters away from the hypocenter, but we unable to find their remains.

  

3.  After the warfs end, we, six brothers and sisters, settled in Hoei-cho, my parents' hometown.  For three years, I remained bedridden, hovering between life and.  Later, I learned that people around me were almost giving me up.  We couldn't count on our relatives.  My eldest brother worked desperately in place of our parents to support his brothers and sisters.  We were in so indescribably squalid conditions that we had to eat rice bran, rats, weed, and even poisonous snakes.   

 

4.  One day, we learned that the government and Hiroshima Prefecture were encouraging people to immigrate to Brazil.  The program was touted as one of helping to become rich in Brazil in four years.  We thought, "It is useless to stay in Japan.  We would be able to satisfy our stomach in Brazil.h   In 1955 we moved to Brazil.   

 

5.  In Brazil, we were employed at a plantation.  But there was no such thing as gmoney treeh there.  On the contrary, ghard laborh awaited us, which was terrible physically and mentally. We started an incredibly hard life in Brazil, because we didn't understand the language, the geography or custom there.  In ginhumane conditionsh we struggled to survive those difficult days.  gNo more immigrants for our children or grandchildrenh was what we used to say to each other.

 

6.  In 1984, a Japanese-language newspaper in Brazil reported

that overseas Hibakusha would be able to receive medical examination under the Hibakusha Medical Law and the Special Hibakusha Welfare Law.  But it soon turned out that the report was not true.  Ironically, this misinformation prompted us to begin an effort to make a list of Hibakusha in Brazil, and the Association of Hibakusha in Brazil was formed at the initiative of  Mr. and Mrs. Morita.

 

  Every year, Mr. Morita, the president of the Association, traveled to Japan and requested that the Japanese government extend aid to the Hibakusha in Brazil.  But sending a Japanese medical team to Brazil every other year was the only step that was taken in response to our request.  The measure itself was very thankful, but the number of Hibakusha who get medical checkup grew smaller year after year because they get much older and even have much difficulty to reach Sao Paulo for medical examination.  What we need is not only checkup but also treatment.  In fact, many of us are not very enthusiastic about receiving medical examination. Japan does nothing more than this biennial medical examination.

 

7.  The Hibakusha in Brazil are not well informed of what the after-effects of the atomic bomb were like.  Is it true that the bombing will adversely affect for generations?  With little knowledge about the after-effects, we have tried to keep others from finding that we are Hibakusha.    

 

8.  In Brazil we do not have a publicly funded medical insurance system like in Japan.  We only have private company-run health insurance plans.  Only private insurance policyholders can get medical benefits, and the premiums are so high that Japanese people may not be able to imagine.  Of course, low-premium insurance policies are available but they only provide small financial aid.  The premiums are certainly higher for older people.  I am now 72 years old and have no medical insurance policy because I can't afford to pay the expensive premiums. So I don't see doctors when I'm slightly ill.

 

   I came back to Japan at the invitation of Hiroshima Prefecture on the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing, and on that occasion underwent a medical exam at Funairi Hospital. I was then diagnosed as with left lung out of function.  The doctor told me not to work too hard.  All aging Hhibakusha have some physical disorder or illness.  However, we can't go to hospital out of concern about expensive medical bills

 

9.  This year, the Japanese government launched a program that allows overseas Hibakusha to visit Japan for medical treatment at the government expense.  However, it takes at least 24 hours for Hibakusha in South America to fly to Japan. Moreover, Hibakusha living in smaller cities will need additional hours for domestic flights. So such a long air travel will only enable those Hibakusha in 'not so bad' health conditions, and the many Hibakusha who are aged or in a bad physical condition can't endure such long flights. In short, on this program, those who badly need medical treatment can't reach Japan!

 

10.  We are Hibakusha!  We want the Japanese government to extend us the same aid as the one made available to the Hibakusha living in Japan.  We want to be entitled to medical aid without fear of medical costs.  We earnestly hope that the government will allow us to receive medical treatment in the place we live, not in Japan.  This is what we demand from the Japanese government.

 

11.  We would not have immigrated to Brazil if the Japanese government and Hiroshima Prefecture had not encouraged us to do so.  We moved to Brazil in accordance with the Japanese government policy. Nevertheless, the Japanese governmentfs attitude is one of regarding us as having nothing to do with Japan.  We are truly Japanese born in Japan!  Isn't it cruel of the Japanese government to maintain such an attitude toward us on the grounds that we chose to live abroad?

 

   I have long believed that I should not talk about our unbearable experience to others.  I even haven't told my family about it.  But as long as the Japanese government sticks to such an inhumane policy, I decided that I should no more keep silent about it.  Following Mr. MORITA Takashi, I filed a lawsuit with the Hiroshima District Court against the Japanese government and Hiroshima Prefecture.

 

   I would like to ask you all to help us with the suit filed by Hibakusha in Brazil.  I also hope that you give the same support to the suits filed by Korean Hibakusha, which are currently pending at the Osaka and Nagasaki district courts.