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Digital archive launched to share stories of A-bomb survivors living across Japan

This screenshot shows a digital archive website page carrying the photos and experiences of atomic-bomb survivors living in Tokyo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- A non-profit organization has launched a digital archive of the experiences of atomic-bomb survivors no longer living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki prefectures.

The project is intended to encourage young people in different parts of the country to learn and think about the experiences of survivors now living close to them.

The Tokyo-based "No more hibakusha," committed to passing on memories of the August 1945 atomic attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, will share the survivors' stories on two websites: "Nagasaki Archives," launched in 2010, and "Hiroshima Archives," launched in 2011. Maps on the sites will feature icons of the survivors' faces on maps of Japan to show where they are currently living. Users will be able to read the survivors' stories by clicking on the icons.

Hidenori Watanave, a 44-year-old professor at the University of Tokyo graduate school, created the digital archive. He said, "I had made maps showing the locations where A-bomb survivors were staying when the bombs were dropped. However, I would like people who have no personal connection to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to know where the survivors are living and take an interest in their experiences."

Some 35 university students and others joined a Sept. 18 event at the university's campus in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward to hear stories from seven survivors living outside Hiroshima and Nagasaki and ask them questions. Audience member comments posted via smartphone also appeared under each survivor's story on the websites.

Organization director Fumioki Okayama, 33, told the Mainichi Shimbun, "I hope that visitors will feel closer to atomic bombing survivors by learning how they have lived their lives in Tokyo and other places after the atomic bombs were dropped." Okayama will hold similar events and collect more stories of the survivors living around Japan.

Fumino Shibata talks to an audience at the University of Tokyo about her experiences in the Aug. 6, 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and her hope for peace, in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward, on Sept. 18, 2018. (Mainichi/ Asako Takeuchi)

Fumino Shibata, a 93-year-old Hiroshima bombing survivor living in the western Tokyo suburb of Musashino, was also at the event. After being exposed to the bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, she came to Tokyo to visit her elder brother, who worked in the capital. Later, when she got married, Shibata said she could not reveal her A-bomb experience to her husband. She told the Mainichi, "Our experiences will be forgotten if we don't tell others. I hope that our stories will be passed on to the future."

(Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, City News Department)

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