Nagasaki second-generation hibakusha, Kazumi Niwa

Uploaded by SGIVideosOnline on 11.07.2011

I am one of four sisters, but all of us were born very prematurely
and suffered from numerous illnesses which we continue to live with today.
[Hibakusha] often suffer from various ailments,
the aftereffects of the A-bombings such as leukemia
however, they often avoid speaking to anyone about their illnesses
because they do not want people to know.
I know personally of someone who, when they were about to get married,
told their fiancé that they were a second-generation [hibakusha]
only to be asked to break off the engagement.
I first learned that my mother was a [hibakusha]
when I was a 17-year-old high school student.
I had a friend staying over the night and it was the first time that my mother
told me that she was a [hibakusha]
and about how much she had suffered as a result. It came as a great shock to me.
My mother had a thick scar on her arm called a "keloid" and when I was little
I would ask her how she had gotten it
but she would only tell me that it was from a burn she had gotten a long time ago.
I feel bad that I probed her about it at the time.
After hearing from her that she was a [hibakusha]
I came to realize, in retrospect, that my mother was suffering
from both the physical wounds and the psychological trauma of being a [hibakusha].
When we were young, my older sister would often get nosebleeds
and I'd get fevers or feel feverish.
If we told our mother, her face would turn pale and she'd say,
"That's why I told you to go to bed early."
I think that deep in my mother's heart the last thing she wanted to believe
was that her children's ailments were attributed to her being a [hibakusha].
I think she was filled with a lot of complex emotions,
such as resentment, grief and anger about her exposure to the A-bomb.
I understand now that this was the reason why, if we told her we did not feel well,
she would respond angrily with "Hurry up and go to sleep."
I remember as a child being filled with dread every time I came home.
My mother would always be lying down in the back room
and I was afraid that if I slid open the doors to her room I would find her dead.
Though I was very young, I have vivid memories of finding my mother
having fainted in the bathroom or in the shower.
When I was getting married, my mother worried about my weak constitution
and feared that I might not be able to bear children,
and so she decided to tell my husband the truth
about me being a second-generation [hibakusha].
Fortunately, my husband was understanding and it did not particularly bother him
and we got married.
I was haunted by the fear of whether or not
I would be able to bear strong, healthy children.
Finally, I became pregnant and gave birth to a healthy boy,
but he was born with weak hip joints.
One day when he was in elementary school he was jumping rope
and the following day he became unable to walk and had to crawl on all fours.
When he was examined at the hospital
it was found that he had weak hip joints just like me,
and we were told that if he overexerted himself it would strain him too much.
I realized his condition was similar to mine.
When I was pregnant with my second son I was repeatedly admitted to hospital
and thought for sure that I would lose the baby because I bled so many times.
I was in the hospital often during my pregnancy.
It took a long time until I was finally able to give birth to my son
and he did not cry when he was born.
It was suspected that he might have leukemia.
My mother, who had encouraged me to stay strong up to that point
felt devastated to realize that her exposure to the atomic bomb had affected
not only her daughters but her grandchildren, who were third-generation [hibakusha], as well.
She was filled with rage and hatred toward the atomic bomb.
For the first time, I saw my mother, who was strong and dauntless, break down and cry.
Finally, my son was diagnosed with biliary astresia,
a disease in which the bile duct to the liver is blocked.
It was said that even if he had surgery it was very unlikely he would recover
because it was a rare and intractable disease that affected 1 in 10,000 people.
Miraculously, he recovered without any sign of damage to his mental faculties
and is now fine and living out his youth with joy and vitality.
On September 27, 1984, a "Peace Conference for Women Against War"
was held at the Kyoto International Conference Hall
attended by women from 27 countries.
I was asked to give a speech at the conference
representing second-generation [hibakusha] from Nagasaki.
I wanted to express that it was women who must help create a world without war.
In particular, I wanted to share about my mother's sufferings,
her exposure to the A-bomb as an innocent young woman
and the subsequent hardships she endured
including discrimination she encountered as a [hibakusha].
Because of her exposure to the A-bomb
my mother was stigmatized and looked down upon.
For the sake of my mother and for all other [hibakusha]
I spoke passionately to the representatives in attendance from all around the world.
Even though I was born as a second-generation [hibakusha]
I no longer view this as something negative
because I believe that it has given me a mission to convey to the world
through my personal experience and my life
how much suffering the atomic bomb caused us
and the extent to which it continues to inflict damage on generations of people.
I will continue to speak out in this way. This is how I choose to live my life.