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Hiroshima, Nagasaki A-bomb survivor passes down her story to preserve peace

Kinuyo Fukui is seen at Nagasaki Peace Park on Aug. 9, 2016, ahead of the atomic bombing memorial ceremony. (Mainichi)

NAGASAKI -- An 85-year-old woman traveled here from the city of Aomori to attend the Nagasaki atomic bombing memorial ceremony on Aug. 9 after revealing to those close to her this year for the first time that she was exposed to radiation from A-bombs in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"I want those of today's generation to listen to the last voices of hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) that we shall never use a nuclear weapon," said Kinuyo Fukui of the city of Aomori as she came back to Nagasaki for the first time in about 40 years to attend the memorial ceremony at Nagasaki Peace Park to mark the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombing.

When she was 14 years old, Fukui was exposed to the A-bomb in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, along with her younger brother, Kuniyoshi, now 83. They lived in a house their father had rented from his friend that was located approximately 1.8 kilometers away from the bomb's hypocenter. While the building collapsed in the blast, Fukui and her brother did not suffer major injuries. Since their father was away at the battlefront and they did not have any place to stay in Hiroshima, the pair got on a train and headed to their father's hometown Nagasaki where his relatives lived.

They arrived in Nagasaki on the afternoon of Aug. 9, only a few hours following the Nagasaki atomic bombing. They got off the train near Michino-o Station, about 4 kilometers north of the blast hypocenter, and walked near ground zero to a relative's home. Fukui saw similar devastation in Nagasaki to what she saw in Hiroshima three days earlier -- ruins burned to ashes.

"As fire was still smoldering, there were a number of bodies under my feet. We just walked and walked while crossing over burned bodies," Fukui recalls.

For a while following her arrival in Nagasaki, she had persistent diarrhea and then was in and out of hospital due to health problems suspected to be caused by the aftereffects of radiation exposure.

After the war ended in 1945, Fukui lived in Tokyo with her father who had come back home and other family members. She then got married and moved to her husband's hometown Aomori.

While Fukui had told her family and close friends that she was "exposed to the bomb," she never talked about the details.

"I was worried about discrimination against myself and my children (because of the atomic bombing experience), and I didn't even want to think about it," Fukui says.

In May this year, after her attendance at the Nagasaki memorial ceremony was confirmed, Fukui talked about her experience in the bombings to the young audience at a local event upon request by those close to her. As 71 years have passed since the two bombings, Fukui has started to think, "I'm not sure how far my voice will reach them, but I want people who were not alive at the time to know as much as possible about the tragedy that the atomic bombs brought."

At age 85, Fukui can't walk without her cane. "I don't think I'll have another chance to come back here to Nagasaki," she said.

"No one should ever have to go through such a tragedy. I want peace to continue forever in the world," Fukui commented, as she prayed for the victims of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

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