Honoring the 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima

August 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On March 8th, 2015, a group of students from Japan’s Kansai Gaidai University, including Jhilene Walker from the University at Albany, visited Hiroshima Prefecture to meet with an 84 year old atomic bomb survivor, Ms. Yoshiko. Jhilene recounted her experience hearing Ms. Yoshiko’s story:

Ms. Yoshiko was 15, working in an airplane parts factory that was 2.3 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the hypocenter of the explosion. She began her account of the bombing by describing how the area where the bomb had been dropped was extremely lively with bookstores, movie theaters, and nightlife.

The moment the bomb was dropped, she saw a white flash and lost consciousness. The factory exploded and collapsed. She and her classmates tried to help each other out of the factory as fast as they could. When she got out from the rubble, she describes Hiroshima as a sunless wasteland with no light.

Ms. Yoshiko explained, “That afternoon everyone was dehydrated, however, I was told not to give any burn victims water because it would shock and kill them.” She remembers two teachers found stretchers and they helped carry her badly injured classmates to a safer area. That night they watched Hiroshima burn near the river and they couldn’t sleep because of their concern about their families. A white smoke enveloped the entire city.

Ms. Yoshiko also responded to questions from students about her attitude towards the United States, Japanese perceptions of World War II, as well as described the discrimination and health issues she encountered as a bombing survivor.

She concluded looking to the future: “I would like there to be a call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. I would like for you all to join me. We cannot do much as individuals but perhaps if we work together we can start a wave that the world cannot ignore.” Jhilene adds, “Thanks to Dr. Paul Scott for giving his students in the Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights course a chance to witness the retelling of history and also for being Ms. Yoshiko’s translator.”

The program that brought Jhilene to Japan is through a University at Albany exchange with Japan’s Kansai Gaidai University. For more information on how to apply, please visit the following online brochure page:

Kansai Gaidai University