International Meeting
2003 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Manzen Haruko

I was nine years old on that day. I was at home standing by the well, 2.6 kilometers away from ground zero. I was about to take some medicine and the moment I looked up to swallow, there was a strong flash and then everything went black. Half of my face, the front of my neck, my chest, both arms and legs were burned, and my skin was hanging down like rags. My father put me on a trolley and ran all over the city in order to find a doctor. I remember seeing the rivers covered with floating dead bodies and when "the black rain" fell, we got colored black all over.

Later, for a long time I suffered long a severe pain, vomiting, bleeding of the gums, blood feces, hematuria, diarrhea, loss of hair, heavy tiredness and loss of appetite.

The keloid burns inscribed on my body gnawed at my heart. The worst thing, being a woman, was that I could not show my body to my beloved. There was a time when I gave up on happiness as a woman and thought of suicide. When I was 24 years old, I got married and became pregnant. But my parents in law made me have an abortion, because "those who experienced the A-bomb must not give birth." Then, after repeated miscarriages and the removal of both ovaries, I was unable to become pregnant and got divorced. Can you imagine how much I suffered?

I suffered a myoma of the uterus, hepatic disorder, shingles, cirrhosis of the liver, was hospitalized repeatedly and underwent several operations. In 1999, I had to undergo an operation for liver cancer, so I applied for acknowledgement of A-bomb disease from my sick bed. However, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare refused to approve my application under the grounds that it was "not caused by the A-bomb." I lodged an objection and requested an oral statement, but to my dismay, I discovered that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare had lost the applications of 11 Hibakusha including myself.

I cannot die and rest in peace until it is acknowledged that my keloid and cancers were caused by the A-bomb. I only wish that the government and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare would understand the suffering, anxieties and worries of the Hibakusha.

On June 12, 2003, I filed a lawsuit with 27 other Hibakusha in the Hiroshima district court. I expect this to be my final struggle. I am going to do my best, in cooperation with others, in order to eliminate nuclear weapons and change the way in which the Hibakusha issue is administered. I would be grateful if you could give us some support.

If the A-bomb had not been dropped, I could have had children. And my children might have got married and given me grandchildrenc. When I think of it, I cannot stop my tears. The dream of having children in the end turned out to be just that: a dream.