国立広島・長崎原爆死没者追悼平和祈念館 平和情報ネットワーク GLOBAL NETWORK JapaneaseEnglish
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Gender Male  Age at time of bombing 5 
Recorded on 2015.8.11  Age at time of recording 75 
Location at time of bombing Hiroshima(Direct exposure Distance from the bombing hypocenter:2.0km) 
Location when exposed to the bombing Funairi-kawaguchi-cho,Hiroshima City [Current Naka-ku,Hiroshima City] 
Status at time of bombing Infant 
Occupational status at time of bombing  
Hall site Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims 
Dubbed in English/
With English subtitles
With English subtitles 

Mr. BONKOHARA Kunihiko was five when the bomb fell. He was at his father's work place in Funairi-kawaguchi-cho, 2 km from the hypocenter. The following day, he and his father went looking for his mother and sister, who hadn't come home. Charred bodies lay by the roadsides, and piles of bodies had been washed up at the foot of Aioi Bridge. He says he cannot forget the sight of that misery. His mother and sister were never to be seen again. When he was 20, Mr. Bokohara moved to Brazil, where he later joined the Associação das Vítimas de Bomba Atômica no Brasil. He helped hibakusha in Brazil to get officially registered as atomic bomb survivors. He worked tirelessly to improve support for hibakusha in Brazil. He talks to Brazilian high school students about his nuclear bomb experience. To maintain world peace, he tells them, it is crucial to both scrap nuclear weapons and to lose our egotistical pride .
[Life Before the Atomic Bomb ]
I was born on June 17, 1940 in Kambara, Shizuoka Prefecture. I moved to Hiroshima in March or April of 1945. In Kambara, my father worked at the Fujikawa River Discharge Channel facility. But he decided to come to Hiroshima as Kambara was no longer safe or maybe for some work-related reason. After coming to Hiroshima, he worked in civil engineering. I remember gathering with my mother and neighbors to watch a plane flying over Hiroshima emit smoke and fall from the sky.
[August 6]
My family moved to Hiroshima and on August 6 there were 6 of us - my father, mother, 2 big sisters, 1 big brother, and me. My eldest sister was in Girls' High School and so remained in Hiroshima, but my brother and other sister went to Funairi Elementary School. Students from Funairi Elementary School had been evacuated to Karuga. So my second-oldest sister and brother weren't exposed to the bomb. On the morning of August 6, my oldest sister went to school as students were mobilized for the war effort. When my mother went into the city center for volunteer work, she wanted to take me with her. But my father, thinking I might be in the way, said he'd take me to his office, so my mother went alone. My father's office, virtually a shack, was nearby. We were standing in front of a desk when we saw the flash.
My father, who was standing beside me, pushed me under the desk and covered me with his body. He was also under the desk. At the same instant, I heard the roar of the the blast wind and the explosion. It seemed liked the blast wind was stronger than the explosion. The roof, window panes and doors all flew off. When the dust stopped falling on the desk, my father pushed away the broken mess, stood up and pulled me out. At that moment I could see red blood flowing down his back. Pieces of glass were sticking out from my arms and legs. Even now I have scars from them. The 2 or 3 people who had stayed in the office were all bleeding.
We went to the Temma River behind the office, washed ourselves, pulled out the glass, and applied basic first-aid. There probably was a first-aid kit in the office. We took it with us, using bandages to stop the bleeding and treating our wounds.
Heading home, we climbed the embankment. From there we saw the town engulfed in flames, and the rising smoke turning the sky dark. When we got home, we found our house totally destroyed. Our neighbor's roof had been blown off, crashing into the back of our house. In those days, there weren't many houses in that area, but the houses around ours were breathing fire. Our house and the one next door escaped the fire. as we were on the far side of a creek, with a road and a brick pickle factory in between. The factory was burning, but I think it probably kept our houses from catching fire.
[Black Rain]
Though our neighbor's roof was gone, the walls of their house were still there. We were standing on the tatami mats in the roofless house when the sky grew dark, and big, black drops of rain began to fall. "We had nowhere to hide, so the Black Rain fell on all of us." I don't think the rain lasted very long.
By then, many people had come from town. They had walked through the fires, and burnt skin dangled from their outstretched arms. As they passed us, they questioned us and asked for water. My father later said that he tried not to give them water. "People with burns can die of shock if they drink water," he told me.
It continued like that all day, but in the late afternoon or early evening, the fires eased. In the distance, the main street with its street cars became visible, because all the houses in between us had burnt down. I remember many people came fleeing from the Funairi area. They came walking from Yokogawa-cho toward Funairi. Our house had not burnt down, and five or six of our neighbors came and we spent the night there.
[Devastation in the City]
My sister and mother didn't come home. So the next morning, my father put me on his bicycle and went searching. Dead bodies and debris lay all over the road. The road was littered with broken power poles and electric wires, making it hard to ride the bike. I walked slowy behind the bike. As we neared the city, the number of bodies grew. Near the center of the city, we saw charred bodies everywhere. When we passed over Aioi Bridge, the parapets were broken.
Looking down, we saw dead bodies washed up onto both shores, forming what really looked like mountains. I also saw corpses floating on the waves on the surface of the river.
From Aioi Bridge, we walked through to Tera-machi, and in the direction of Yokogawa-cho.
There were bodies there, too, piled around the cistern holding water for fire fighting. They had probably died while trying to drink the water. At a temple in Tera-machi, many gravestones had been knocked over. I clearly remember seeing a big tree with the top still burning. When we got to Yokogawa-cho, we saw a charred street car with dead bodies inside.
I don't really remember much after that. But I do have a memory from when we were going from Tokaichi-machi to Aioi Bridge. I remember seeing a dead horse with a huge, swollen stomach. That is all I remember about August 6 and 7.
We never found my mother and sister. I don't know the name of my sister's Girls' High School, but I later heard from my father that all the students and the teachers accompanying them died. To be more precise, their bodies were never found.
[Evacuating to the outskirts of Hiroshima, and on to Shimane]
On the 8th day, thinking it was not good for me to see such hellish sights, my father decided to take me to Karuga, where my brother and sister had been evacuated for their safety. As we passed through the city, here and there we saw soldiers collecting bodies. They poured gasoline or heavy oil over them, and burned them. I still clearly remember seeing rising smoke here and there in the city.
In Karuga, everyone had their wounds treated, but it hurt and I tried to run away.
So elementary school friends of my brother and sister held me down.
They applied tincture of iodine, but afterward gave me toasted soybeans.
I don't remember when, but I was taken and left with people in Shimane, the place where my father was born.
[Back to Hiroshima]
I was the only one my father took from Shimane back to Hiroshima. It was around the time they began to build makeshift buildings. I had been staying with the grandmother of an acquaintance of my father's, but I don't remember how long I was there. Eventually my father rented a house in Yagi-mura and my 3 siblings were able to live with us there.
[My Health after Exposure to the Atomic Bomb]
I attended Yagi Elementary School and graduated, but from before I entered school I began to develop very painful boils all over my body. The boils were full of bright blue pus, and when they were drained it felt like I had holes in my body. I used to have a lot of scars, but now they have disappeared. I suffered from a lot of pain, and when I was in grade 4, I developed lung trouble and had to miss one term of school. Even after that, during Morning Assembly and other times at school, I would sometimes feel sick and collapse. So you can see I was unwell and not very strong.
After graduating from Kabe High School, I passed an exam and joined the Industrial Development Youth Corps. I was sent to their Training Center, which had been set up in the Construction Ministry Otagawa River Construction Office. During the training, I lived in the dormitory, working in the morning and studying from the afternoon until 10:00 pm. I had read that after graduating from the Training Center we'd have a chance to emigrate to Brazil.
When I was 20 or maybe 19, I wasn't feeling well and so I consulted a doctor. The doctor told me, "Your heart is not in good shape." Since childhood I had always been sick, so I thought, "I'll be lucky if I can live to be about 30." If I had to die young, I wanted to see the world outside Japan first. So when I graduated from the Training Center, I asked to be sent to live in South America.
On February 16, 1961, when I was 20, I arrived in Santos Harbor, Brazil. From there,  I traveled 900 km by train and then a truck, and got to Dourados in the State of Paraná. There were only 5 or 6 houses in the "town." I settled in a virgin forest, about 60 kilometers from the town. At that time there were no chain saws, so to clear the land I chopped down the trees with an axe, and then dried and burned them. I experienced real slash-and-burn farming.
[Support for Hibakusha in Brazil]
In 1984, the Associação das Vítimas de Bomba Atômica no Brasil was established. Seventeen hibakusha from Hiroshima and Nagasaki gathered and formed the group. At first, I didn't join because I already had official recognition as a hibakusha through my Atomic Bomb Survivor's Certificate. I assumed the group was for people wanting to obtain the Certificate. I also knew that the Certificate was not valid for expatriates. I was busy with my work, so I didn't join.
In 1988, a group of medical doctors visited from Japan, as they had done before. The Certificate holders were entitled to have health checks, so I had my first physical exam, and also joined the Association. The Association did not have many young members and since I was young, they asked me to help and I agreed to do so. I've been helping them ever since. In Brazil, we had as many as 270 hibakusha members at one point. The number is down to 106 now. Most of our former members have died. Meanwhile, there were many people who wanted, but couldn't get, the Atomic Bomb Survivor Certificate. 
In 2003, we learned that if hibakusha went to Japan they could get a Certificate. I helped those who wanted to get one. But we had difficulty finding witnesses. Very few had a witness, but those who had one went to Japan and got the Certificate. At that time, officials in Hiroshima and Nagasaki Prefectures worked hard to help us.
Overseas hibakusha in Brazil were not entitled to receive allowances locally. Our Association's first wish was to allow them to have treatment locally. However, a ruling by the Japanese government known as "Article 402" prohibited payment for treatment outside of Japan. As a result, a Korean hibakusha, Mr. Kwak Kifun, filed a lawsuit. The heads of the Brazilian Association, Mr. Morita, the U.S. Association, Mr. Kuramoto Kanji, and others served as witnesses. Mr. Kwak Kifun won the case. The Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, Mr. Sakaguchi, chose not to appeal, and the court ruling became final.
In 2003, it became possible to obtain a Certificate and to have a physical exam under the Health Care Allowance by going back to Japan. Many hibakusha came to Japan and got Certificates. But some were denied the Health Care Allowance in Brazil. Some were lucky enough to receive it, but others weren't able to go to Japan to get it. We at the Association were upset about that. Now, most people are receiving the Health Care Allowance. I wonder how many times I visited the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. I handed them petitions, but did not get even a word in response. It was hard to tell if they were considering the cases seriously.
I continued to assist with the Certificate lawsuits for people who couldn't come to Japan. I clearly remember when we won our case at the Supreme Court. It ended so easily that I really felt resentment at why the issue had been left hanging for so many years. Moreover, the Certificates were not awarded right away. What is worse is that some people only got support after they died.
[Why I began to give my Testimony as a Hibakusha]
Even in Brazil, there are people whose engagements were broken off when it was discovered that they were atomic bomb survivors. We all knew about those stories. One mother waited to apply for membership. She said, "I wanted to join the Association, but wasn't sure and waited until my daughter got married and had a healthy child." I suppose hibakusha have had to face discrimination everywhere they go. I used to talk about it among hibakusha, but never in front of other people.
When we heard in 2003 that the Certificate was available for overseas hibakusha, I helped many people to go to Japan and register in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One time, when I was working with the Hiroshima Prefectural Government, I had a chance to talk to a high school peace group. That was the beginning. I returned to Brazil and talked at a high school there in 2005 and 2006. After that, other high schools heard about me, and now I talk about my atomic bomb experience almost every year.
[Message for the Next Generation]
The first nuclear bomb test was carried out in July, 1945, in New Mexico. I don't know if the U.S. government was paying any attention to radiation exposure, but soldiers entered the hypocenter after the test. Then came Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The U.S. conducted more than 1000 nuclear tests, while the Soviet Union did more than 700. China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea…. Many countries are conducting nuclear tests. There have been nuclear power plant accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and the recent one in Fukushima. The accidents at the Chernobyl and Fukushima plants are still not over. They continue to emit radiation every day. If we are to survive on this earth, we first need to do away with atomic bombs, stop nuclear power plants, and manage nuclear waste properly. Otherwise, sooner or later, the next generations, or perhaps their grandchildren, will suffer even more than we have. To protect peace on earth if something were to happen, people from around the world should gather to discuss what to do. We need to forget about our egos, and live every day thinking about "what humans really need to do for our survival."
Witness: BONKOHARA Kunihiko (age 75 at time of recording)
Planning and Production: Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims Production: Hiroshima Asahi Advertising Incorporated
Translation: OKADA Hatsuki Supervising Editor: ALEXANDER Ronni
Translation Coordination: NET-GTAS (Network of Translators for the Globalization of the Testimonies of Atomic Bomb Survivors)

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