By Hiroko Komiya
Note: Hiroko Komiya, vice president of the International Peace Center in Lawrence, KS, gave this talk Aug. 8 to more than 50 persons at the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance sponsored by PeaceWorks-KC.
Today is a day of remembrance that weighs heavy on my heart.
As you know, Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings claimed the lives of at least 200,000 civilians, including children. But the victims and tragedies don’t stop there.
When I was in 4th grade in Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo, there was a skinny little girl whose mother was very ill. We were good friends and played together.
One day, she whispered that she wouldn’t get married when she grows up. I asked, “Why?” She answered, “Because I don’t want to. Did you know my mom was in Hiroshima? That’s why she has leukemia. And I will get it someday because I am her child. And my child will get it, too.”
A few days later, her mother died and she moved away to live with her grandparents. I was devastated as a 4th grade child. But she was a courageous little girl who faced her harsh reality and accepted her ill-fated future.
According to studies, leukemia was just the first cancer to be associated with atomic bomb radiation exposure. My friend and her mother were just among the first.
Almost every type of cancer risk has increased among survivors from just two atomic bombs, robbing the community of many more lives, hopes, dreams, and happiness.
The immediate death of over 200,000 was sadly just the beginning. My childhood friend was just one of many, many more. Generational trauma and the spread of cancer and other illnesses continue to echo waves of death and devastation.
This is why I stand here with you today!
For the sake of this little girl, for all the victims, and for the sake of our children and future generations of humanity, I protest against the race on nuclear weapons and the production of nuclear weapons!
Today marks 76 years since Japan learned the horrors of atomic bombs. Unfortunately, there are over 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. The time to stop this most dangerous game, the race on nuclear weapons IS! NOW!