自分らしく生きて

The family and one clue to the eldest daughter who performs a beauty parlor
Satoshi Umesako (73)
Tama City, Tokyo

The image of the child of an atomic bomb
"Children's Peace Monument", situated at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, was erected in 1955 to mourn the death of Sadako Sasaki who had passed away from an illness caused by the atomic bomb radiation at the age of twelve. Children in New Mexico, and the USA who had come to know the story of Sadako started a one-dollar fund-raising campaign in 1993. Their aim was to set up a "Children's Peace Monument" in the US. Aware of the campaign in the US, Mr. Satoshi Umesako, a permanent trustee of Tokyo Metropolitan Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organization (Toyu-kai), visited several cities in New Mexico in order to promote the drive in October of that year. He also went to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the nuclear bombs had been developed, and had an informal talk with the mayor of the city.
As a "Peace Envoy" to the world
 (Following is an excerpt of the talk between the Mayor of Los Alamos and Mr. Umesako at Los Alamos City Hall)
Mayor: Japan made a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. It was a dirty trick.
Umesako: I sincerely apologize for their fault.
Mayor: The A-bomb brought the end of the war minimizing damages.
Umesako: Your idea is totally wrong. The bomb killed hundreds of thousands of people. They were all innocent civilians.
 (Two hours, three hours−a heated controversy continued.)
Umesako: The lives of the Japanese are as precious as those of the Americans.
Mayor: I understand your points. Unlike buildings and properties, it is impossible to bring back the dead.
 (Later, the mayor became so cooperative that he promised to find a site for the monument.)

It is from right under about the A-bomb memorial dome immediately after contamination.
A photograph is taken by Mr.Umezako.
Discrimination faced by survivors other than in A-bombed places
Mr. Umesako was exposed to radiation in his hometown, Kanon-machi, Hiroshima City which is 1.2 kilometers from the center of the atomic bomb explosion. For years since then, he has suffered from radiation sickness. He became a member of Soka Gakkai in 1961 following his wife, Takae. Afterward, the family moved to Urawa City, Saitama Prefecture and then, to Tama City, Tokyo. Mr. Umesako worked for a major printing company until 1980 the year of his retirement.
He had kept silent about being an A-bomb victim for many years. Before his retirement, however, some occurrence in his life changed his attitude. He had opportunities to consult with examine my health condition carefully," or "No matter how seriously I explained that I have been ill, doctors diagnosed my case as a nervous breakdown." Mr. Umesako, then, found out that there were no special hospitals designated for radiation sickness patients to take physical examinations in Tama City. Mr. Umesako also learned that A-bomb survivors were discriminated against, in Tokyo, unlike in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in which the atomic bombs were dropped. Some survivors were forced to break off engagements, still others had no choice but to resign from their jobs due to malicious rumors that they had infectious diseases. Even worse, some were forced to leave the houses they rented. A considerable numbers of survivors have suffered from radiation sickness and many were left in bed without any substantial help. People may say, "A-bomb sufferers are unlucky," staying away from them, as if survivors had committed a notorious sin.

Mr. Umezako at the time of 1953
(With former Yasukawa)

Being aware of a mission as a survivor
Being bereaved and living with radiation after-effects is frightening. And in Tokyo, some aged radiation survivors still attempt to kill themselves. Scars left by the atomic bomb distresses many even now.
What has the Japanese Government done for the A-bomb sufferers? Although the government passed the law outlining the relief measures for members of the armed forces and their families within seven years after the end of the war, measures for A-bomb survivors were left behind. It was twelve years after the end of the war that the "A-bomb Survivors Medical Care Law" was enacted. Furthermore, survivors waited for twenty-three years after exposure to radiation before the enactment of the "A-bomb Survivors Special Measures Law". Why the survivors have to wait for so long. Why couldn't the government provide them with any relief measures? Mr. Umesako thought to himself, "it is impossible for the government to lead us to a peaceful society if we accept its evasive attitude. It is always common folks who have to suffer. He burned with anger when thinking of this unfair attitude of the government. And he pondered on his role as a survivor. "The death f many people who were killed by A-bombings must not be meaningless," he thought, "I will devote myself to abolishing nuclear weapons." Mr. Umesako made this determination before his 60th birthday.

Mr. Umezako at the time of 1955
(in Peace Memorial Park)

Acting as if he had become another person
Following Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tokyo has the third largest number of A-bomb survivors. Tokyo Metropolitan Confederation of A-bomb Suffers Organization (Toyu-kai) is the sole body to which all survivors living in Tokyo belong. Among them, those who obtained A-bomb health books are approximately 10,000. While playing a central role in operating the organization, he made every effort for the enactment of the Atomic Bomb Victims Relief Law.
"While he was studying laws which were related to welfare, relief measures and medical care to accomplish his goal, that is the enactment of the Relief Law, he looked like another person," said Takae Umesako, his wife. He visited the Ministry of Health and Welfare to demand development of the law from Diet members. He also met actively the Mayor of Tama City and the Head of the Ward where he lives to get their understanding of necessity of relief measures for suffers. He, sometimes, had to endure their indifference and arrogant attitudes, but he was never defeated. On top of that, he endeavored to ask A-bomb survivors living in his district to join the campaign. At the outset, most of them were rather reluctant to take part in the campaign saying, "I hate to recall the bad memory," or "We, presumably cannot change the situation." They were too much afraid of being discriminated against. Recalling those days, Mr. Umesako said, "I set my mind on meeting survivors one by one to convince them. I believed that would be an effective step." Day after day, he visited survivors' homes to talk. He tried to listen to their anxieties first, and then, opinions, and he explained how important it is for sufferers to make a concerted effort.
Big wave after ten years
"Mr. Umesako is playing a leading role in our organization for A-bomb survivors. I like his enthusiastic personality and way of logical thinking. He is respected by many members because he understands our hardships very well," said Mr. Ito, chairman of Tokyo metropolitan confederation of A-bomb suffers Organization.

Mr. Umesako have met about 150 survivors in Tama City, and all of them decided to be members of Tokyo Metropolitan Confederation of A -bomb Suffers Organization. In the meantime, he visited nearly 50 hospitals to negotiate with doctors to provide A-bomb sufferers with physical examinations. To this date, all those hospitals became designated as special hospitals for A-bomb survivors with A-bomb health books. Many people talk about "peace". When people take actions for peace, they always have to confront many difficulties and obstacles. In such occasions, people are likely to swim with the tide, in other words, to take an easier way making a lot of excuses. However, Mr. Umesako is determined to go along the road less traveled. His courageous attitude inspires many. Mr. Umesako said, "Through activities of the Soka Gakkai in which I participated, I have learned the significance of working for the people. As he moves ahead, he appeals for "No More Hiroshimas" to the world.

Tsunehiro Tomoda Etsuko Kanemitsu Jung Bok Soon Kunisou Hatanaka Juichi Tagawa BACK