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2nd generation A-bomb survivor joins anti-nuclear weapon campaign for her father

Second-generation atomic bomb survivor Nobuko Hosoda visits the Atomic Bomb Dome after taking part in the peace memorial ceremony marking the 73rd anniversary of the bombing, at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, in the city's Naka Ward, on Aug. 6, 2018. (Mainichi)

HIROSHIMA -- "Please, never start a war." The words of Nobuko Hosoda's father Akio the first time he spoke about his experience surviving the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima were etched into her consciousness.

After Hosoda's father died two years ago, the 64-year-old Iida, Nagano Prefecture resident joined a movement gathering signatures for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

"For my father, who suffered with the memories of that day but still strongly wished for peace, I want to do whatever I can," she said. That road led her to set foot in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in the city's Naka Ward on Aug. 6, as a representative of the bereaved relatives in the ceremony marking the 73rd anniversary of the bombing. The experience acted as fuel to further power her efforts.

What Hosoda remembers about her father, an atomic bomb survivor, or "hibakusha" in Japanese, was the numerous scars she saw covering his back when they bathed when she was a child. Akio was quick to tire, and when he got stressed out, he would soon lose consciousness. According to Hosoda's grandmother and mother, her father was about 2 kilometers from the hypocenter of the bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, at the predecessor of Hiroshima University, Hiroshima industrial vocational school. Akio had only arrived there two or three days earlier to learn brewing techniques. When he returned to Nagano, his back was pierced by numerous small glass shards, they said.

But when Hosoda asked her father to tell her about his experience directly, he would strongly refuse, saying, "I don't want to talk about it." It was only 10 years ago that he finally spoke about what happened in front of Hosoda.

That day, Akio spoke to junior high school students in his hometown. She watched as his voice shook and he tried to hold back his tears. Even then, he tried with all he had to tell his story. What Hosoda was able to make out was only bits and pieces: "Everyone's skin was raw and sagging like (the sleeves of) a kimono." Nevertheless, Hosoda felt for the first time that she had come in direct contact with the tragedy of the bomb watching her father give his testimony while clearly in pain.

His closing words, "The reason I spoke to all of you today is because I wanted to tell you to please never start a war," left a mark on Hosoda. After that, in April 2016, Akio passed away at the age of 88.

Half a year after his death, Hosoda learned of a group of atomic bomb survivors called "Hibakusha Appeal," a signature-gathering campaign rallying for an international treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons. Hosoda joined the hibakusha on the street and in other locations, collecting signatures for the appeal.

"The elimination of nuclear weapons is not a simple task," Hosoda said. Still, she has hope. "I want as many people as possible to become interested in our cause through this signature campaign."

(Japanese original by Tomomi Tanida, Osaka Area News Center)

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