Hibakusha: Survivor holds on to A-bomb victim brother's diary
IWAKUNI, Yamaguchi -- At a display on the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan and World War II held here in May, part of the display came from an 83-year-old bombing survivor, who lost her older brother and younger sister to one of the atomic bombs.
After the Hiroshima bombing in 1945, Taeko Matsuno, now 83, walked with her father near the site of the bombing, searching for her sister. They checked the faces of corpses as they came across them. Her father said to her, "Don't talk to anyone about this." Matsuno agreed and for over 60 years kept the promise, but as she aged and her body weakened, Matsuno felt that if she died her siblings would be forgotten, and five years ago she began sorting through their left belongings.
The belongings included drawings, practice writing and awards. Unable to stand the emotions that came up, Matsuno often had to stop sorting.
One of the belongings she found was a faded notebook. It was a diary kept by her older brother Kazuo for the three years from when he was exposed to the bomb to when he died at age 21. From soon after the bombing, Kazuo became badly anemic, and soon after he was sent to the hospital for repeated fever and diarrhea.
In a Jan. 31, 1948 entry, Kazuo wrote, "My condition is very bad. Both my logical and emotional minds are attacked by exhaustion. The crowd when going to school takes its toll on my body. I have no drive."
A Feb. 1 entry reads, "I have to keep pushing no matter what. It irritates me how my body is in bad condition."
In the neat writing can be sensed anger that had nowhere to be directed. Matsuno said of her brother, "Yes, he repeatedly said, 'It's frustrating. I don't want to die,'" as she ran her finger along the writing and wiped her tears.
It took two years for Matsuno to finish sorting through the belongings, and partway through she suffered from heart trouble. She donated some of the belongings to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, finally relieving her of their burden.
Another entry of Kazuo's on April 17, 1946, reads, "It irritates me when people who do not know the great power of nuclear energy under-evaluate such power after seeing the recovery of Hiroshima. Together with the recovery, the dreadful disaster fades from people's minds."
Says Matsuno of the bombing, "Things that cannot be atoned for must not be repeated."
August 17, 2012(Mainichi Japan)