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Hiroshima's Legacy: the Story Of One Japanese Family

Motoko Sakama lives in Tokyo. Her father was the mayor of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, the day an American B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on that city. This account of her family's experience was published in the August 1967 edition of Fujin no Tomo, a well-respected monthly magazine aimed at women, and appears here for the first time in English. LOOKING BACK AT HIROSHIMA

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AUGUST in Japan is the season of agitation against atomic and hydrogen bombs. Reviving their memories of that time many years ago, people express their hatred for war and appeal for peace. These are the wishes of earnest Japanese, but I have been unable to join in this fervor until now.

I have devoted many quiet, private moments to thoughts of the happy days with my family before the World War II and to the ordeal I suffered because of it, without wanting to share those thoughts. But I have come to think that if the peace expiated by the deaths of my beloved family members were endangered, I would be extremely sorry. My simple prayer for continued peace has brought me the courage to write about my experience. I will be happy if my writing lets readers know the callousness of war.

At the time, my father was mayor of Hiroshima. Until that day, Aug. 6, 1945, I had my parents and four younger brothers and sisters. I was married and had a two-year-old daughter. It was wartime, but I was living a peaceful life in Ashiya (a city in central Japan).

My father, Senkichi Awaya, converted to Christianity when he was young and was influenced by Kanzo Uchimura (a 19th-century Christian scholar whose work combined patriotism with a pacifist, anti-authoritarian independence).

After graduation from university, my father became an official of the national government. Two years before the end of the war, he was appointed mayor of Hiroshima and left Tokyo to fulfill his responsibilities in that military town.

When he took office, he was alone at first, having left his family in the capital. But as the war intensified, he called my mother and brother to live with him in Hiroshima. One of my two sisters was a post-graduate high school student mobilized in Niigata (in northern Japan). Another brother and sister, elementary school pupils, were evacuated to Kofu (near Tokyo) and Matsumoto (in central Japan), respectively.


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