August 6, 1945, remains an important date in international history. 71 years later, on December 18, the participants of the MIRAI 2016 Winter Program visited Hiroshima to learn about the atomic bomb attack and how it shaped Japan as a peace-loving nation. The day included a walk through Peace Memorial Park, listening to a Hiroshima survivor speaking about her memory of the attack, and learning more about the attack at the Peace Memorial Museum.
When the unspeakable happened, Kaji Moto was a 14-year old junior high student. Like many other students, she was forced to work in a factory for airplane parts. But early on that hot August day, an explosive sound cut through the bustle. “I felt my body was blown up in the air”, she remembers. „I thought for a moment that I was going to die here.” The faces of her father, her mother, her three brothers flashed through her mind. Parts of rubble buried her before she fell unconscious. When she awoke, everything hurt.
Today, Kaji Moto is 85 years old. When she told her story to students of the MIRAI Program, she said she sincerely hoped that her memories could help lead to a world free of nuclear weapons. Experts estimate that about 15,000 of them could still be around, each more devastating than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.
To learn more about the impact on Hiroshima, MIRAI students had also walked around the Peace Memorial Park before listening to Kaji Moto’s story. Only 150 meters away from the hypocenter of the attack, the park reminds us that we should strive for a peaceful coexistence and that the world community must do everything to prevent a second Hiroshima from happening. 170 000 people still suffer physically and mentally because of the attack, as our tour guide explained.
Lastly, we visited the Peace Memorial Museum, a thoughtful and well-researched hub of information on Hiroshima and the atomic bomb. The uranium-filled bomb created temperatures of up to 4000 degrees Celsius, setting people on fire immediately. But the radiation proved very harmful, too, causing the so-called A-bomb disease that killed or disabled hundreds of thousands of people. Learning about the horrifying consequences was yet another reason that we can never forget Hiroshima.
Text: Nathalie Bockelt
Pictures: Tinna Sveinsdóttir and Inga Menke