Aug. 6 and 9 marked the 74th anniversary of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. The number of people who were directly exposed to radiation or lost family members is decreasing every year.
But it still hurts to see the live broadcasts of the peace memorial ceremonies and anything in relation to the topic. There might also be people who couldn't sleep for days after reading books or manga themed on the A-bomb.
We humans, even without those experiences, can understand other people's difficulties and sadness, and at times feel as if we actually lived through the event -- due to empathy. Some say a special feature that makes us human is the ability to do so, which is connected to compassion and kindness.
However, if a person has too much empathy or when the actual incident is extremely tragic, this ability can make people suffer deeply and traumatize those who never even lived through the event.
I believe that the atomic bombings of the western Japan cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which claimed the lives of many people in an instant, continue to induce emotional damage onto future generations. The same thing can be said for damage induced by other events, including the Battle of Okinawa and air raids during World War II.
The consequences of war are not just limited to those killed by direct attack and others that lived in the same time period. Indirect consequences expand to bereaved families and those connected to the victims, at times casting a shadow over the minds of people across several generations.
Of course, the same thing happens in cases of large-scale disasters, but because war is caused by nations and humans, the thought that it could have been prevented lingers on. This regret makes it all the more depressing.
While the fading of the memories of the war and atomic bombings has become problematic, there are people who are suffering from damage that never stops. In any case, we must never let such wars happen again. We need to notice movements that could lead to war faster and never allow such conflicts to take place.
One shouldn't forget that war does not just claim lives and damages physical health, households, wealth and anything directly involved in it. It also continues to induce damage onto our mental health, which is very important, extending suffering over a wide range of people for a long period of time.
Even if you win a war, it is clear that you will become traumatized, according to testimonies of American soldiers who fought directly with Japanese soldiers during World War II.
I cannot help but pray for peace in August, for the well-being of our physical and mental health.
(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)