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NANBA Wataru( NANBA Wataru) 
Gender Male  Age at time of bombing 18 
Recorded on 2017.11.6  Age at time of recording 90 
Location at time of bombing Hiroshima(Direct exposure Distance from the bombing hypocenter:2.0km) 
Location when exposed to the bombing Senda-machi 3-chome, Hiroshima 
Status at time of bombing High school or university student 
Occupational status at time of bombing Hiroshima Technical School 
Hall site Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims 
Dubbed in English/
With English subtitles

Mr. NANBA Wataru, who was 18 years old at time of the atomic bombing. At Hiroshima Technical School, he was exposed to the bomb’s radiation in Senda-machi 3-chome, about 2 km from the hypocenter. While evacuating, he felt indignant when he saw the miserable, utterly transformed appearance of the children walking in front of him.
Born in California, Mr. Nanba came to live with his grandparents to get an education in Japan. He was separated from most of his immediate family while they were held in a U.S. concentration camp because of the war.
After the war, he returned to America. He got drafted and returned to Japan while serving in the Korean war. Following his military discharge, when some colleagues in an American aircraft company that he worked for would ask him about the legitimacy of the atomic bomb, he’d sometimes feel furious. He says, “I hope people will take an interest in the atomic bomb, which is taking the world a step down the path of ruin.”

Life before getting irradiated 
I was born in Lodi, a city located in northern California and known for its grape production and orchards. I lived there until I was in preschool. Later, because in America at that time it was hard to get a good job even after graduating from a university, my father took us to Japan. He also thought it would be better for us to be educated there. 
But when I was in the third grade of elementary school, my parents decided to go back to America. However, I’d caught a serious case of pneumonia. Passports for my parents and siblings and me were already issued and the day of our departure was also fixed. Accordingly, they changed their plans, and because I couldn’t go with them, I stayed with my grandparents. My elder brother, sister and I all stayed with our grandparents, while my parents took my little sister and brother back to the U.S.
In such a situation, the war broke out and my family got broken up. When the war began, my father was sent to Tule Lake Concentration Camp. Then, when they made him choose to “pledge allegiance to the U.S. or to Japan,” my father seems to have sworn loyalty to Japan. For that reason, the U.S. considered Father the most undesirable kind of immigrant.
From then on, I didn’t hear anything from my parents, so I didn't know what was happening for a while. Eventually, I got a handwritten postcard from my parents sent by the International Red Cross. It said, “We are currently in a concentration camp.” Everyone’s name was listed properly, like ‘So-and-so is doing fine. Don't worry.’ It was simple, but thanks to the kind International Red Cross, I came to know how my family members in the U.S. were doing.
I attended 4th, 5th and 6th grade of elementary school in Fuchu-cho, Aki-gun. I had a classmate who was a distant relative. Her name was NANBA Kazumi, and she always favored First Hiroshima Prefectural  Hiroshima Junior High School, because her brother graduated from that school. Motivated by her, I told my teacher, “I want to go to that school too.” My teacher said, “You’re qualified,” and submitted an application. I could do everything smoothly, including the oral test, so I passed the entrance exam.
Student mobilization was like one of the school subjects. I was ordered to help out at Hiroshima Army Munitions Supply Depot from my second year of junior high school. My classmates who were routinely doing well started taking higher secondary education when they were in the 4th grade, but I was left out, and as a 5th grader I was sent to Kure Naval Arsenal as a mobilized student. Half of us were allocated to working with lathe machines, and the rest were assigned to making the gauges necessary to turn a lathe. My job was to make the gauges.
At the beginning of July, about a hundred B-29s flew to Kure and burned the whole city to the ground.

August 6th 
On the morning of August 6th, I went to school by train as usual. Everyone in class waited for the teacher, who came at 8:00 o’clock. From around 7:30 we were reviewing our notebooks. The teacher came and started writing and writing on the blackboard. During that time, I met the atomic bomb.
In those days, B-29s came to Hiroshima for scouting almost daily. As this was around 8:00 I thought we were hearing the reconnaissance plane as usual. Since I sat at a desk in the third row, away from the windows, I asked my classmates on the other side, “What is that?” They answered, “Same as usual,” so I thought, ‘reconnaissance.’
A silver-winged B-29 passed over Hiroshima, and as soon as both the precautionary warning and the air-raid alarm were lifted, the outdoors suddenly turned very bright. I thought, ‘What?! What is this flash?! Someone’s mismeasured the amount of magnesium and burnt it all to take a photo outside, which made it like this.’ It was so bright the world turned pure white and I had no idea at all what to do. I couldn’t even see my hands and didn’t know where I was. All I knew was that my feet were on the floor. At that moment, I stood up, trying to balance myself as heat kept closing in from the windows all over my body. My classmates by the window moaned, “It's so, so hot!” I too was gradually feeling the unbearable heat. Thinking this was all impossible, I crouched down and bowed my head to the floor. Just then, I was blown by a blast and the entire building was destroyed. When the school collapsed, we were plunged into darkness and could not see or do anything. I think all of us stayed still helplessly for a while. Without worrying about my classmates and not knowing what to do, I lay still for a time. I’d been struck hard in the hip and just didn’t move at all.
After awhile, I saw a rectangular light coming in from the entrance of the classroom on the second floor. “There! It’s the entrance,” I thought and tried to go for it. But all the desks and chairs were in a jumble, blocking me. Eventually, I went under the wooden structure of the collapsed school building and exited. I reached the entrance, hearing my classmates’ angry-sounding voices, their moans and groans of pain. Then, I exited the second floor classroom. I took a step and realized I was already standing on the ground. I’d been on the second floor, with the midsummer sun reflectd on at my feet suddenly flashing in my eyes. It turned out this second floor had collapsed to the ground.
A few classmates had already gotten out, and they stared at my face and said, “Nanba, you are badly wounded.” I asked, “What’s happened?” and they told me, “If you lose so much blood, you can’t survive,” so I quickly checked my head and face; they were smeared all over with bright red blood. I wondered if I was fatally wounded. And when I was told, “You can’t be helped,” I felt depressed and thought, ‘This is the end.’ There were no first aid kits at all. But for an emergency treatment, two of them tore my shirt to check where blood was coming from. They also checked my head and said, “You aren’t bleeding from your body at all. Maybe you are drenched in the blood of others.” Hearing this, discovering that my own eyes could fool me, I regained a cheerful energy. I felt rejuvenated, pulled back from the brink of death.

Heading to a relative's in the town of Koi. 
My grandparents’ place was in Fuchu-cho, beyond a mountain in the east. I felt that escaping in that direction was dangerous because I might fall prey to a surrounding fire. So instead I ran out the school gate and headed west. On the way, there was a town called Koi. Near the town a jet black rain started falling. Under that rain, the bloodstains on my shirt gradually faded and the color turned grey instead because of the large black raindrops. I finally got to the national road of the town of Koi. And feeling as if this bomb were chasing me, with mid-summer rain coolly falling, I quickly ran away to escape. When I reached the Inokuchi area I was just exhausted, and the rain stopped.
For me, having been bombed at Kure Naval Arsenal, all I could think was that the bomb in Hiroshima must have been quite large because a single blast had burnt and destroyed the whole city. However, there were no bombs following, so I decided, “It’s okay to go back now,” and this time I began my steady return.
When I reached Koi, I remembered that my uncle, KAWAMOTO Hideo, lived in Koi Nakamachi, so I stopped by. The roof of his house was completely collapsed, the ceiling had risen, and all of the tatami mats were overturned. It was the first time that I’d noticed my cousin lying on a tatami. His whole face had suffered a severe burn. “He came back home within one hour after the bomb fell,” my uncle said. I saw his whole face was seared and sooty; the facial skin fell down to the edges of his jaw, and pink dermal tissue was exposed. His arms were also burned and their tissues were hanging at the nails of each finger. His eyelids were so swollen that he could not see. “It was this child who came home soonest,” my uncle said. “I’m thirsty.  Give me water, please,”  my cousin pleaded, but drinking a lot of water places a burn patient’s life at risk, so my uncle only moistened his lips with wet brush strokes. This brought a look of delight to his son’s face. My cousin seemed very tired and couldn’t see anything. I was taking care of him while listening to him tell all the disastrous things that had happened to him.
Then, my cousin’s older sisters came back. One had been bombed at the Bank of Japan and was thrown by the blast, slamming her skull on the granite floor. Her head was wobbly and hazy. A neighbor saw her and brought her home on his bicycle. The other sister had been weeding a nearby potato field. Her face was cut from ear to mouth by a glass shard blown by the blast. She was bleeding heavily. Using his loincloth, my uncle quickly controlled her bleeding, and brought her home. All these things caused great turmoil in the house.

Tragedy and resentment 
I said, “I’ll be going now. My grandparents are surely worried about me.” My aunt and uncle agreed, “Yes. That’s best. You must go.” However, the intense flames prevented me from going from Koi back to the city of Hiroshima. So I took a detour through Mitaki and Yokogawa, and on the way, I met wounded children for the first time. Many were first- or second-year students of junior high school. They all wore ripped clothes and some were walking naked. Their skins were hideously burned and drooping down from the nails and their chins. All the children were walking with their skin hanging down like this, and they couldn’t see well. I met so many like them.
I thought “What a tragic situation! Who on earth did such a terrible thing?” It was not until the evening that I realized I’d gotten angry. Until then, I couldn’t afford to feel outrage like that. I saw one child whose hand was blown off. He was alive, running away, seemingly without feeling any pain, even though his arm bone was exposed.
And a mother who held her baby must have rushed into the concrete fireproof water tank for protection against the intense heat, but their dead bodies were half-burnt. I saw such sights when I escaped to the Yokogawa area. It was the first time for me to see disaster victims.

Back home at Fuchu-cho
At exactly 8:00 PM, I arrived back home at my grandparents’ place. The sun had completely set, and when I opened the rear gate and entered the house, I saw a lit candle my grandfather had offered at the Buddhist altar, where he was reciting sutras. Finally home, I heard my grandfather call out, “Wataru” and I said, “I'm home.” “Wataru?” he repeated and I answered, “Yes.” Then, he also asked me, “Do you have legs?” and when I answered, “I do”. . .  . . . no sooner did he hear this than he approached barefoot and said, “You damned fool! Where have you been until now?”, hitting my head while half-sobbing.
Grandmother made a bath for me and took pieces of glass one by one from my hair, matted with blood, but no matter how many times she washed it, she couldn’t seem to get rid of the glass completely. It took a long time. Dozens and dozens of pieces. When we’d removed all these bits, I was so exhausted. After eating something, I slept like a log.
From August 9th, I became bedridden because I was unable to stand up by myself. Now I am sure this was the aftereffect of the radioactive black rain I was exposed to in Koi. I couldn't move my body, couldn't lift my arms at all, not even when I’d see a tiny fly on me.

After returning to America, enlists and returns to Japan
Japan’s defeat was determined on August 15, 1945. And in September a second-generation Japanese-American soldier living in my parents’ neighborhood visited my grandparents’ place. He left a message saying, “Your father and mother are well.” And about a month after the war ended, the second generation soldier came to tell me that my parents and my family were all doing fine. From what the soldier told me, they’d heard a rumor that Hiroshima would not be livable for the next 75 years. So my parents decided that they wouldn’t go back to Japan but live in America.
My teacher at Hiroshima Technical School had graduated from Hokkaido University. Because of that, I studied hard to enter Hokkaido University (Hokudai). At that time, the Korean War had already started, and Chitose in Hokkaido was a military post and there were many people there. After I graduated from the university, the U.S. consulate urged me over and over, “When will you come back to America?” After all, I returned to America as soon as I graduated from Hokkaido University because I wanted to see my birthplace and how my siblings were living.
Then, after only two months in the U.S., I received a military draft order from President Truman. I was called to duty for the Korean War and I entered Fort Ord’s barracks near Monterey. After finishing the four months of basic training, I arrived at Yokosuka on a Navy warship. From Yokosuka I entered Camp Asaka or Drake in the suburbs of Tokyo and waited for my orders. Then, after a month I received orders to report to an American military base in Chitose, Hokkaido. They said, “Please come to Sapporo to take a test to become an interpreter” and so I did. After passing it, I belonged to the intelligence department there. The “P.I.O.” (Public Information  Office) always got their interpreters from the intelligence department. I was hired immediately and started working in their public relations department.
I think if I had entered a university in the United States and hadn’t been drafted, I wouldn’t have become as conversant in Japanese or worked as well as an interpreter. Once I joined the military, I had to talk a lot with other soldiers. And I needed to become a good interpreter, no matter what. Otherwise, I’d be sent to dangerous places. So I worked hard and did my very best. I’m glad that thanks to that, later when I managed to start working as an engineer in a company I could work just as hard and as well as my colleagues.
Between the United States and Japan
At that time, America was “Number One” for most Americans and they were intoxicated with being a victorious country. Some people I knew were trying to justify what had been done in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, saying, “That was good, wasn’t it? We dropped the atomic bomb to finish the war quickly.” I had been suffering under that horrifyingly cruel atomic bomb, running around trying to escape it, so when I was asked to agree with their justification—“Don’t you think that we saved Japan with that bombing?”—I couldn’t help but feel a surge of outrage. I decided not to talk to those sorts of people anymore because I didn’t think it would help me at all. That’s why I stopped talking about it. Engineers generally didn’t care about it, and gradually word spread that “Nanba doesn’t want to talk about his experience of the atomic bomb, so don’t mention it to him.” I’m glad I’ve rarely met such people.

The atomic bombing’s impact and anxiety
When I took a blood test, I found a sharp drop in my red blood cell count, so I realized, “Oh, this is it.” Around that time, lots of articles reporting from Japan on symptoms from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima appeared in various U.S. magazines, and I finally realized, “I am the same.” When I asked American medical doctors how atomic nuclei can cause injury or illness in humans there was not a single doctor who specialized in atomic bomb diseases. I have taken a blood test every year since I was 32 or 33 years old, right up until today. After all, I’ve felt unsure of my health all these years because I was exposed to radioactivity. That’s why I have worried, especially as a parent. When strange things have occurred with my children, I’ve thought it would be a problem if I couldn't take responsibility as a parent.

What I want to convey 
My children seemed to talk about my atomic bomb experiences at school, so the teachers asked me to give a special lecture. They were very happy that I accepted. Most students have no knowledge about the atomic bomb. And after all, I suppose that everyone wants a fine family where parents and kids can live life without worry. But it’s not good to have these globally catastrophic atomic bombs, so I think we should be very concerned about what these weapons are built to do.
Atomic bombs built after Hiroshima’s make that bomb look very small by comparison. If bombs 20 times larger are dropped, their harmful effects will be immeasurable, including very widespread dangers from radioactivity. Insist that your children and grandchildren must prevent this from happening. I truly hope you’ll do so. Anyway, humans must not have such a devastating weapon, which spreads harmful radioactivity in the world.
Translation: Sakamoto Kishio and his 2020 seminar students of Kyoto University of Foreign Studies.
Supervision of translations: Stewart Wachs, Sakamoto Kishio.
Translation coordination: NET-GTAS (Network of Translators for the Globalization of the Testimonies of Atomic Bomb Survivors).

*Many more memoirs can be viewed at both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Memorial Halls.
*These contents are updated periodically.
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