Quakers host atomic bombing survivors

With the Peace Boat’s ‘Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World’ docking in London, the two survivors of the 1945 bombings of Japan by the US said the weapons were an act against humanity.

'The six-year-old Toshiko survived the Hiroshima bomb as her family had recently moved two kilometres away.' | Photo: Toshiko Tanaka, shortly before nuclear attack

Nagasaki must be the last city in the world to ever experience an atomic bomb, two survivors said at Friends House this month.

With the Peace Boat’s ‘Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World’ docking in London, the two survivors of the 1945 bombings of Japan by the US said the weapons were an act against humanity.

Toshiko Tanaka and Tadayoshi Ogawa represent some of the last living hibakusha – the 11,000 remaining survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. These are now, on average, eighty-five years old.

An infant at the time, Tadayoshi was just a few kilometres away from the Nagasaki blast’s hypocentre. When his father returned to their home, he found it destroyed with his relatives dead, and had to cremate them himself.

The six-year-old Toshiko survived the Hiroshima bomb as her family had recently moved two kilometres away. ‘All her classmates were killed. She was so badly burned and covered in ash that her own mother didn’t recognise her, and she was unconscious for several days,’ says the Quakers in Britain website. ‘She still remembers the taste of the dust that filled her mouth when the bomb exploded, and the smell of bodies being cremated all around the city. She suffered constant fevers and headaches.’

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on 6 and 9 August 1945, killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, and left many more dealing with radioactive fallout and emotional wounds.

The event was organised by Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM), CND and Japan-based NGO Peace Boat.

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