International Meeting
2003 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Sasamori Shigeko
Hibakusha Residing in the United States

1. I still now can never forget the misery of my plight after the atomic bombing, which occurred 58 years ago.

At that time, I was 13 years old, and in the first grade of girls' high school. I was mobilized to demolish buildings at a site 1.5 km. away from the hypocenter. Looking up at the sky, I saw a B-29 flying, and pointed at it to show my friend. I found a small white object dropped from the bomber then there was an intense flash and everything vanished from my sight. It seems as if I was blown over by a strong wind. When I awake I couldn't see. Everything was reddish black and there was no sound. After a while, it became gradually light as if a fog was lifting. I was probably in the state of severe shock. I could see and hear nothing. I felt no pains though I sustained burns over the upper part of my body.

For four nights and five days, I hovered between life and death. Lying down, I just repeated my name, saying, "Give me water, please!" Miraculously, my delirious utterances were relayed to my parents, and on the fifth day, they came to see me. For five days I ate nothing, and got no medical aid. I now realized that I was very lucky to have survived that hell.

2. For over 30 years, Hibakusha organizations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and many hibakusha support groups made representations to the ministries of Welfare and Foreign Affairs demanding aid for the victims residing overseas. They also filed lawsuits on our behalf. Thanks to their efforts, Japanese doctors' group visited the United States to give medical check ups to overseas Hibakusha. Furthermore, from this year, we are able to receive a special benefit for hibakusha abroad. We truly feel grateful to those supporters.

However, we must go to the bother of visiting Japan in order to apply for the benefit, and get medical treatment. It takes us 12 hours from the East Coast and over 10 hours from the West Coast by plane. Most of the hibakusha are over 70, and it is not easy to fly here. Many of us are sick, and cannot come to Japan. Some cannot come for family reasons. The Japanese government says it is ready to provide treatment if we come to Japan. There exists a discrimination between those able to visit Japan and those unable to do so for various reasons. We demand that this unfair treatment be removed. We say, "Hibakuhsa are hibakuhsa wherever they live." We earnestly hope that hibakusha both in Japan and abroad will be able to receive equal assistance.

3. No one likes war, but unless people feel the blames of war around them, they don't realize how terrible it really is. Do we really understand the sacredness of human life? I have a son. But he was not born to this world to kill others or to be killed in war. Raising him, I have always hoped that he will be of some service to the world and to other people. I presume that all parents have the same idea.

I think we should all take an interest in world peace in our daily lives, and have the courage to attempt to create world peace for the future. We also should make known to people throughout the world the horror of atomic bomb: how they kill and wound indiscriminately, leaving countless people sick and emotionally damaged in an instance. A lot of hibakusha live with diseases, and mental and physical disabilities. They still have many difficulties in their daily lives.

I firmly believe that it will be a long way to world peace unless we abolish all existing nuclear weapons now.