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The Hollywood Reporter
BAREFOOT GEN (Hadashi no Gen)
Written by Keiji Nakazawa
DEATH IN LIFE: SURVIVORS OF HIROSHIMA
Written by Robert Jay Lifton
by John Hersey
Written by Kenzaburo Oe,
Translated by David L. Swain & Toshi Yonezawa
SHOCKWAVE: COUNTDOWN TO HIROSHIMA
Written by Stephen Walker
BAREFOOT GEN (1992)
Directed by More Masaki
DAY AFTER TRINITY (1981)
Directed by Jon Else
KUROI AME (Black Rain, 1989)
Directed by Shohei Imamura
THE MUSHROOM CLUB (2005)
Directed by Steven Okazaki
WHY THE BOMB WAS DROPPED(1995)
Directed by Gerald Thomas
Organizations Committed to
WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN features the following 14 atomic bomb survivors, many of whom have never spoken publicly before, and four Americans intimately involved in the bombings.
KIYOKO IMORI was 11 years old at the time. She and her best friend had just arrived at school and were changing their shoes in a below ground concrete structure when the bomb exploded over Hiroshima. When they emerged, the school was gone and their 620 classmates were dead. They jumped into the nearby river to escape the fires that engulfed the city. Although they shared the exact same experience, Imori survived, but her friend died a week later from radiation exposure.
SHIGEKO SASAMORI was 13 years old. She shielded her eyes to look at the B-29 flying over Hiroshima, then the blast knocked her unconscious. She woke up dazed and badly burned. She found her way to a schoolyard and lay down under a tree. Unrecognizable because of her burns, she repeated her name and address over and over until her father finally found her. She came to the United States in 1955 watomicith a group of young women known as the Hiroshima Maidens and underwent numerous plastic surgery operations.
KEIJI NAKAZAWA, 6 years old at the time, lost his father, sister and younger brother in the Hiroshima bombing. In shock, his pregnant mother gave birth to a baby girl on the day of the bombing. The infant, named Tomoko, died four months later. Later, Nakazawa told his family's story in the epic comic book series Barefoot Gen (Hadashi no Gen), one of the most powerful literary explorations of the atomic bombing.
YASUYO TANAKA and CHIEMI OKA were 9 and 10 years old, living in a Catholic orphanage. Close friends, devoted Catholics, they found each other after the blast, faced extraordinary hardship together, but managed to survive. The orphanage housed more than 20 infants, all of whom perished. In 1945, Nagasaki had the largest Catholic population in Asia and some believed that the city would not bombed by the Americans because of this.
SAKUE SHIMOHIRA was 10 years old. She lost her mother and brother in the Nagasaki bombing. Later, her sister committed suicide by stepping in front of a train. For 10 years, Shimohira lived with a dozen other homeless survivors in a small shack in the middle of the devastated landscape, sometimes surviving by eating grass and garbage. She recalls returning to the place where her sister died, planning to kill herself too. At the last minute, she jumped aside as the train approached. "I realized there are two kinds of courage: the courage to die and the courage to live," she says. "I decided I wanted to live."
KATSUJI YOSHIDA, 13 at the time, remembers feeling the force of the Nagasaki blast and flying more than 100 feet through the air. One side of his face was horribly burned and disfigured. Even in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, survivors with external scars experienced cruel treatment from other more fortunate survivors. Yoshida initially retreated into the shadows, refusing to go out in public. But soon, with his mother's love and encouragement, he worked up the courage to step outside and, today, he is a leading figure in the peace movement.
SUNAO TSUBOI was a 20-year-old university student in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped. He notes that the art and literature students were drafted into the army first, before science majors like him. But he says he was ready to go to war, to die for his country, "to fall like petals from a flower, that was our destiny."
SHUNTARO HIDA, a 28-year-old military doctor at the time, was a safe distance from the Hiroshima bomb. He began treating people immediately after the bombing. Later, patients who should have been getting better began dying. He says, "We didn't know what it was. For a doctor, that's frightening to not know what you're treating."
SATORU FUKAHORI, 11 years old at the time, said that even as children in Nagasaki, they knew Japan was losing the war. "Any fool could see it," he says. "We had nothing. We needed everything." He says that people who were exposed to the bomb became "untouchables."
PAN YEON KIM was 8 years old. Her family, like many poor Koreans at the time, immigrated to Japan, to avoid starvation. After the Hiroshima bombing, Koreans survivors faced further prejudice and additional hardship, so her family returned to Korea. She has struggled with the Japanese government to obtain medical benefits.
SENJI YAMAGUCHI was 14 years old when the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. He was unconscious for 40 days. During his long hospitalization, he started a survivors' organization to lobby the Japanese government to provide care to victims of the bombing.
SUMITERU TANIGUCHI, then a 16-year-old mail carrier in Nagasaki, was about to deliver a letter when the bomb was dropped. He was badly burned on the face, arms and back. Strangely, the wounds on his back never healed and he lives with perpetual pain. He says, "I've shown you my wounds, because I want you to know this can't happen again."
MORRIS JEPPSON, 23 at the time, was the weapon test officer on the Enola Gay mission to Hiroshima. His job was to arm the bomb in flight, making him the last person to touch the bomb before its detonation. Today he says, "I see the risk of radioactive war as being quite a real possibility."
LAWRENCE JOHNSTON, a 21-year-old civilian scientist working at Los Alamos, worked on the team that developed the detonators for the Fat Man bomb. He believes he is the only person to witness all three of the first atomic explosions: Trinity, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He says, "We've opened Pandora's box and the genie can't be stuffed back in the bottle."
HAROLD AGNEW, 24 at the time, worked on the Manhattan Project in Chicago and Los Alamos. He flew as a scientific observer on the Hiroshima mission, capturing the unforgettable image of the rising mushroom cloud with a home movie camera.
THEODORE "DUTCH" VAN KIRK, 24 years old then, was the navigator aboard the Enola Gay for the Hiroshima mission. Captain Paul Tibbets told him that the bomb they were about to drop would probably shorten or end the war. Although he believes that dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the right thing to do, he also says "There is no time I think a bomb should have been used since World War II. None whatsoever."