自分らしく生きて

It has been 50 years since then. She has overcome difficulties vigorously. From the left: Younger sister Noriko, Etsuko, youngest sister Mutsuko
Ms. Etsuko Kanemitsu(64)
Fuchu-chou Aki-gun Hiroshima Prefecture

Talking with Dr. Radhakrishnan at Hiroshima Ikeda Peace Memorial Hall in August, 1993
"Hiroshima's heart" is "Gandhi's Heart"
At the day when the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, most of Gandhi's principle's persons in India march for peace every year. Dr. Radhacrishnan, the commemoration house director was one of them. In summer of 1993, the doctor visited Hiroshima and asked Ms. Kanemitsu a frank question. "What do you think of the United States of America dropping an atomic bomb?" Ms. Kanemitsu answered sincerely and enthusiastically, " I hated the U.S. before, but it's very miserable to waste my energy by bearing grudge in my life. What to do at the risk of my own life, I think, is important. I will dedicate my life for everyone's happiness and peace for all countries." This was an expression of her heart, one who has survived strongly in a tragic place. A Gandhi's lineal disciple was moved with her words very much. "It's so wonderful." "Hiroshima's heart" and "Gandhi's heart", two hearts, which are filled with human love, encountered there. After the talking, the doctor spoke to one young man saying, " The woman has the immortal power in her heart and there is hope for the world in her ways."

As a member of the Group for Mobilized Students and Victims she conducted canvassing for subscriptions on the street in 1956.
Ms. Kanemitsu suffered from prejudice and discrimination in her youth.
In 1957, in Hiroshima, "Hiroshima Prefecture Group for Mobilized Students and Victims", was inaugurated. Ms. Kanemitsu exerted herself for the inauguration. Since then, for 38 years she has been a leader of the committee, which consists of about 2000 people. Now she is a director, and has supported the war bereaved and physically handicapped. She also achieved results, which lead the Government to enforce a pension system for them.
Ms. Kanemitsu's family consisted of her parents, one brother and four sisters. She grew up as the second daughter. She said, "I was bombed at the Shintoku School yard in Minamitakeya-cho, Naka-ku, which was 1.5 kilometers from the center of the explosion. Only four classmates were left alive. The bomb killed my elder sister at her working place, who separated on the way to school. I myself got burnt on the upper half of my body." Ms. Kanemitsu was 14 years old, a sensitive age then. In ordinary circumstances she might have worried about her pimples, and she might have cheerfully thought about clothes, food and a lover. But her springtime of life was not brilliant, because she had a scare burn on her body. When she walked outside, people jeered at her: "Keloid girl" "Red demon" One day at the public bath a caretaker said to her, " Don't come here because other guests feel weird." She ran blubbering to her house with a washbasin, saying to her mother in vexation, "Why didn't you let me die at that time?" She caused her mother to feel unhappy. But her mother grasped Ms. Kanemitsu's hands and admonished gently, "I have always thought that you are the greatest girl, no matter what others may criticize you." It was a wonder, her mother's words touched Ms. Kanemitsu' broken heart and healed it. Ms. Kanemitsu has been able to gather her courage to live only by listening to her mother's voice. She began to open her life step by step, learned the art of sewing kimonos and received a teacher's license. After a few years she worked hard for a dealer in kimono fabrics as a seamstress. She also began the "Group for Mobilized Students and Victims" movement with friends who had been victims of the bomb. Activities of the group consisted of canvassing for subscriptions on the street, signature-collecting campaigning and filing petitions with the Diet. She ran all over the country, wanting to help one more person who had suffered from the war.

With classmates and sisters in March, 1945 From right in front line: Younger sister Noriko, youngest sister Mutsuko, Etsuko(left side)
Daughter's body had nail marks by the A- bomb.
In 1959, Ms. Kanemitsu married Akiji, who was also a bomb-victim. In 1961, their daughter, Masae Adachi, who lives in Okayama prefecture now,was born. But Ms. Kanemitsu suffered from atomic bomb symptoms as soon as she gave birth to their child. And also, her daughter was affected by the atomic bomb.

Ms. Kanemitsu became aware of her daughter's unusual behaviors when her daughter was three years old. She always stumbled and failed, and always stayed close to her mother though other children romped about. With apprehension Ms. Kanemitsu took her daughter to a doctor, because she was by nature in poor health. Besides, being weak sighted, farsighted and squinting eyes, she was almost blind. She was said to become completely sightless after all. "It's not her fault. that she could become blind. " " We can not avoid A-bomb sufferings for ever, can we?" How exasperating! She had a grudge against her fate. At that time a woman in the neighborhood introduced her the Soka Gakkai, so she joined. She volunteered, in order to change her life, to deliver the Seikyo newspaper with all her might, though she repeatedly doubled up by dizziness and anemia. Ms. Kanemitsu continued to pray with all her heart. "Save my almost blind daughter at least, even if I had a hard time, and felt painful." When she came home, her daughter always waited for her at the entrance hall and beads of tears rolled down from her almost blind eyes. She felt sorry for her daughter enduring her loneliness. "Everything is okay" She couldn't help giving her daughter a tight hug. After a year, the doctor asked, holding his head to one side and looking doubtful, " Did she receive treatment at other hospital, didn't she?" My daughter recovered from the disorder of her eyes. It is no wonder that he asked.

Tanka written by her elder sister Masako who was killed by the A-bomb. She sent this to her fiance in a war front

Elder sister Masako, who left tanka, praying her fiance's safety, was 22 years old when she was bombed.
Memory's of her favorite sister always in mind
Ms. Kanemitsu is a member of Group of A-bomb Witness" She has told her experiences at least 10 times a month to school trip students to Hiroshima from throughout Japan.

Ms. Kanemitsu gently took off a thin letter pad on the pasteboard saying, "This is the treasure of my life, which has been supporting me." A tanka (a Japanese traditional poem), which her sister Masako, killed in the A-bomb, composed and sent to her fiance who went to a war front, was written on the pad. Her sister, Masako wrote; I earnestly pray that gods may protect my fiance who was called up for the war. Masako had planned to get married in the autumn of 1945. She just prayed and kept waiting for him for a long time. Masako's fiance brought this thin letter pad poem to Ms. Kanemitsu after an interval of 20 years after Masako died. In the morning of the atomic bombing, Ms. Kanemitsu left home with Masako and when they separated, Masako said waving her hand, "Be careful" It was to be the last time. Masako was very tender and she used to sing a song"Aka Tombo(Red Dragonfly)"holding Ms. Kanemitsu's hand. Masako was so skillful with her fingers that she cut everyone's hair in the family. She was so clever that she passed the teacher's license examinations and made all the family happy. When Ms. Kanemitsu saw the Japanese short poem, she remembered her favorite sister and felt crushed from her heart. Masako's poem is the only article left by the deceased. As a witness, Ms. Kanemitsu introduces this Japanese poem to children, even though she feels pain and sadness saying, "I wonder how many young people's happiness was shattered by the war, when lovers couldn't meet and talk freely"; "We have to set a great value on this "Peace", because this world was brought at the sacrifice of happiness of so many people."

Tsunehiro Tomoda Satoshi Umesako Jung Bok Soon Kunisou Hatanaka Juichi Tagawa BACK