Nagasaki: Remembering the day 70 years ago…
9th August 1945 in Nagasaki, 70 years ago, was a date that would go down in the Japanese history books as one of the most devastating days ever.
3 days after the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima during WWII, Nagasaki suffered the second atomic bomb made from plutonium – making it more deadly than the one in Hiroshima – on 9th August at 11:02 in the morning, just when the people were busy hovering over their stoves in their kitchens preparing lunch on a hot summer’s day. This made the impact more devastating that day.
I was in Nagasaki on 9th August 2015, the 70th remembrance ceremony day. I asked my grandparents who were survivors as school children at the time, of what they remember of the day and the period surrounding the war all these years ago. I think it is incredibly precious to have someone so close, who have been through the ordeal and to have had the resilience to survive, having suffered through intense hardship and starvation, and experienced losses to their families and close friends. My grandfather told me in great depth of his story, as he saw a massive white flash across the sky and how he had to seek refuge in a temple where all they had to eat were potatoes day-in day-out (hence he has not eaten any more potatoes since to this day), and the rows and rows of bodies he saw at the railway station where he caught a steam train back home to the outskirts of Nagasaki, completely starved and worn out. I was lucky that I did not lose any member of my family that day. But there had been over 70,000 fatalities and I am sure there are many sad stories out there to be told.
I watched the live televised programme of the 70th Remembrance Ceremony being held at Nagasaki’s memorial square. It was a very hot day, and Japan’s Prime Minister Abe, US Ambassador, as well as school children and impacted families all present over speeches and gave an opportunity to pay their respects.
This below is the river running across the city of Nagasaki where the people who did survive came to seek drinking water… little known to them, that the water was radioactive and hence all of them had suffered health effects thereafter. At the ceremony, the deceased were honoured with clean drinking water, symbolising how precious water was at the time and to this present day, to be able to have clean water to drink.
There is this very special tree that was at the epicentre of the bomb, which bafflingly survived and remains standing to this day. There is now a children’s nursery that surrounds it, and the little babies were being told stories and were being taught about the significance of this tree. Unfortunately, the City of Nagasaki has recently discovered that the core of the tree trunk had become rotten and sparse, threatening the future of this very special specimen of resilience and force through punishing times. My mother and I would love to do something to help in support and keep this beautiful tree from standing and keep watch over the next generations to come. Those who are with us, please message me. We are thinking of planning some projects to be able to provide charitable donations for this cause.
It was so heart-warming and touching, watching these little Japanese children touching the bark of this magnificent tree and feeling the connection to the history and heritage of where they came from.
One minute sentence at 11:02….
There were 2 memorable speeches.
One was by Nagasaki’s Mayor, Tomihisa Taue, who delivered a peace declaration speech whereby he made suggestive comments directed at the Prime Minister at the unease the city of Nagasaki feels about his policies of continued efforts to resume nuclear power operations across the country.
Nagasaki mayor Tomihisa Taue then delivered a peace declaration to the ceremony. He said there was “widespread unease” about Mr Abe’s bid to alter the country’s pacifist constitution.
Another was by a survivor, 86 year old Sumiteru Taniguchi, who was just a mile away from the epicentre riding on his bike, when he was blown away by the impact of the blast and was hiding in the forest for days with a completely burnt and raw back before he sought help. Daily Mail has photographs of Taniguchi-san’s now terribly disformed body. Taniguchi-san echoed the Mayor’s comments that he could not accept Prime Minister’s new legislation and turned to him to not meddle with the Japan’s pacifist constitution. The local crowd clapped as the camera span across to a close-up of Mr Abe who looked to the cheering crowd then straight ahead, emotionless and almost frustrated at their disapproved reaction to his policies.
It was extremely engaging and deeply moving… if you are ever in Nagasaki on your next trip, please pay a visit to the Nagasaki memorial museum. Oh, a small tip… take a box of tissues!!