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Hibakusha: Daughter of late reverend behind 'No more Hiroshima' to follow his path

Koko Kondo, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, speaks about her wishes for the abolition of nuclear weapons, with books she and her father authored in front of her, in this photo taken in Miki, Hyogo Prefecture, on Sept. 17, 2020. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

MIKI, Hyogo -- Koko Kondo, a survivor of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, is perhaps more famous overseas than in Japan as the daughter of Kiyoshi Tanimoto, a Methodist minister who wished that the tragedy of Hiroshima is never repeated in any other country. He is said to have given rise to the global slogan, "No more Hiroshima."

    Kondo, 75, was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb when she was 8 months old. This summer, 75 years after the nuclear attack, Kondo was barraged with interviews by more than 10 media outlets, including The Washington Post, the Associated Press, The Guardian, the BBC and media in Spain and Norway. Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, some of the interviews were conducted via Zoom, a video conference system, with Kondo answering questions from her home-cum-church, Miki Shijimi Kyokai, in the city of Miki, Hyogo Prefecture.

    Her father, Kiyoshi Tanimoto (1909-1986), also a Hiroshima A-bomb survivor, was devoted to the peace movement and relief activities for hibakusha, or A-bomb survivors. He appears in Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Hersey's book "Hiroshima" as one of the protagonists. The book graphically describes the horrors of the world's first nuclear attack in war and shocked American readers.

    Tanimoto promoted the "moral adoption" of children orphaned by the atomic bombing by American "parents" through child support payments and letters. He also scrambled to provide medical treatment to young women who suffered burns to their faces and other parts of their bodies from the bombing.

    To the eye of Kondo, however, her father appeared as if he was disregarding his own family, and she rebelled against him for many years. This year, Kondo obtained her medical charts created by the U.S. Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, which studied the effects of the atomic bomb's radiation on human bodies. Among the more than 100 pages of papers she received, there was a copy of a letter from 66 years ago in which a doctor attending to her responded to her father's inquiry about her health status, saying, "There is no problem."

    "He was worried about me, even though he was busy," Kondo thought, reconfirming her father's love for her.

    "I can't do things like what my father did, but I'd like to follow in his footsteps," Kondo said. With her father's words "person to person" etched in her mind, she is determined to tell the world about the atrocities of the atomic bombing and her wishes for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

    (Japanese original by Yuta Shibayama, Osaka City News Department)

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