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One living witness to the history of Hiroshima bombing survivors

Survivor Koko Kondo shares horror of Hiroshima’s ground zero by: YUKA HAYASHI The Wall Street Journal August 06, 2015 Every year, Koko Tanimoto Kondo tours her hometown carrying the tiny, tattered pink tunic she wore on the day, 70 years ago, she and her family survived the world’s first atomic bombing.On storytelling tours around the August 6 anniversary, Ms Kondo, who was eights months old when the bomb hit, tells ­students about the devastation that destroyed her home and haunted her for decades.She recalls when her American fiance abandoned her days before their wedding because his relatives thought radiation ­exposure had made her unable to bear children.

She shares the humiliation she felt as a teenager, standing naked on a stage while doctors and ­scientists scrutinised her for signs of radiation’s long-term effects on the body.

She offers tales of ordinary Americans who sent food and built homes for the victims, and continued for decades after the war to send cheques on birthdays to sons and daughters of Hiroshima connected through “moral adoption”.Ms Kondo’s father, Kiyoshi Tanimoto, was a US-educated minister at a church in Japan. When Hersey visited Hiroshima in the spring of 1946, Tanimoto shared with him a detailed ­account of the horror and chaos he witnessed. In the book, Tanimoto is described as passing by “rank on rank of the burned and bleeding”, scurrying to find water for dying victims, and removing a dead body from a rowboat to carry those who were still alive, after apologising to the dead man for doing so.

Ms Kondo and her mother were buried under the parsonage of her father’s church. Her ­mother managed to hoist her out of the rubble after chipping away at “a chink of light” that they could eventually fit through. When Tanimoto was reunited with his wife and baby, he was “so tired that nothing could surprise him”. Hersey wrote in his ­account, which first appeared in the New Yorkermagazine in ­August 1946, a year after Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the first and only cities in history to experience a nuclear bombing………..

Ms Kondo shows the visitors where her father’s church stood before it collapsed, burying her under the rubble. She takes them to the river her father crossed in a rowboat to carry victims, some grotesquely burned, to escape the devastation. They go to the Red Cross Hospital, where thousands went for refuge. Ms Kondo’s brief appearance in the book Hiroshima, by journalist John Hersey, set her on a path to become a messenger from ground zero. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/wall-street-journal/survivor-koko-kondo-shares-horror-of-hiroshimas-ground-zero/story-fnay3ubk-1227471529950?from=public_rss&utm_source=The%20Australian&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial

August 7, 2015 - Posted by | Japan, social effects, weapons and war

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