On Aug 9, 1945, a plutonium bomb was dropped on the Southern Japanese city of Nagasaki, with the United States warplane held responsible for this. Terumi Tanaka, who was 13 at that time is a survivor of that atomic bombing. Tanaka explained that he was reading a book that morning when he realized that his surroundings had become so bright.
He instantly knew that the loud boom he heard was something different from the air raids he had witnessed in World War II.
I felt this was something terrible, so I ran downstairs and ducked, covered my ears and closed my eyes. And at that moment, I lost consciousness.Terumi Tanaka
Terumi Tanaka and his family were just 2 miles from the focal point of the bombing. He was unharmed and so were his two sisters and mother. However, his aunt, uncle, and grandfather weren’t very lucky. A few days after the bomb’s explosion, Tanaka went to the epicenter of the bombing to check on his relatives; that was when he realized the severity of the calamity.
Several properties were damaged, buildings reduced to nothing but charred piles of rubble, and fresh corpses littered the ground. Tanaka’s grandfather was one of these corpses. Tanaka silently cried out for water by dabbing a wet handkerchief in his mouth.
Three days after Hiroshima’s hydrogen bomb attack, about 27,000 people were killed in the Nagasaki bomb blast, and at the end of the year, over 70,000 lives were lost. Six days after, Japan surrendered.
For almost 50 years now, Tanaka has continued to speak out for nuclear disarmament with the hope that his experience would put an end to the potential use of these bombs. However, the coronavirus pandemic has interrupted some important events, like a New York exhibition organized by Tanaka.
However, Tanaka has gone online to extend his message, with the hope of reaching a broader audience. But he is worried that time is no longer on his side.
After all the atomic bomb survivors are gone, I’m worried whether people will be able to really understand what we have experienced.Terumi Tanaka