mmlung des Ökum. Rates der Kirchen, Pusan 2013
Workshop "Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution"
Madang Workshop: Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution
November 7, 2013
About Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution
Mr. TAMAGAWA Yūkō
Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Survivor
Thank you for this opportunity to participate in this workshop on the subject of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.
I was born in July of 1932 and I experienced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima at age 13, when I was a 1st year student of junior high school. On August 6th, approximately 8,400 junior high school students had been mobilized for evacuation activities in the city center (near ground zero), and my school was planning to work in an area about 600 meters from ground zero. I was on my way to the assembly point, but, because my train to school was late, I could not reach the assembly point in time. When the bomb exploded I was at the streetcar stop in front of Hiroshima Station, about 1.8 km from ground zero, with eleven of my classmates.
I remember feeling a blue-white flash, like the spark from an electrical short circuit, but I remember nothing after that because I passed out. When I regained consciousness it was dark all around me and I was in a place that was, I think, 20 or 30 meters from where I had been standing. There was a big bump on the back of my head, and the right side of my face and the backs of both my hands were blistered from the heat. All of my 343 classmates, who were assembled at the working place, lost their lives.
The area near ground zero was devastated by powerful heat and blast waves that, they say, reached 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius on the ground surface and produced super-high-pressure blast winds. Radiation damage is still causing many people to suffer today.
All of Hiroshima city was turned to rubble, and I still cannot forget what I saw as I fled; people trapped under their collapsed homes; people in shredded clothing, with burns all over their body; people whose eyes were protruding from their sockets... Late on that night, when I finally reached my home, I remember clearly my mother taking one look at me and saying, "Are you really Yoshimitsu?" My clothes were tattered and my skin was burned and peeling, so she must not have recognized me.
The next day a neighbor from across the street, who was from the Korean Peninsula, told us that it is good for burns to drink the top, clear layer of liquid from cow's blood, and delivered some every day so I could drink it. More than 10 years later, when I told a doctor about this, he said it must have helped to regenerate my cells and I must be thankful to that person.
I am truly grateful for the care that I received, across the bounds of nationality. As one who had such an experience, I believe firmly that the spirit that is clearly written in the Preamble of the Constitution of Japan* must be respected and protected. At the same time I am proud of this Constitution, which contains an independent article for the "Renunciation of War." It is a model for the world.
I continue to pray that all nations may one day join their hearts as one, take each other's hands in trust and bring true peace to the world. Although my power is small, I promise to continue to speak about the importance of Article 9, and to advocate for a future without war.