LIFE AND DEATH UNDER THE MIYUKIBASHI
“I Would Die Here” On The Ground
There is a famous picture taken by Yoshito Matsushige, from the Chugoku Shinbun(a Japanese newspaper company based on Hiroshima.) three hours after the atomic bombing. Many people in this picture, including me. The station made a shadow; it smelled like dead bodies there. I thought “Oh my god, I can’t escape here”. So I sat down at the foot of the bridge.
(This is the Miyuki bridge about three hours after the atomic bombing. The encircled person is Mr. Tsuboi)
The inside of the picture became black, as you can see because it was burning up. A lot of houses were burned and destroyed.
There was no treatment, so I thought “I was sure to die." I only had on short pants. The school certificate I always kept in my pocket was also burned, so there was nothing to identify me. Then, I sat on the ground and I wrote “Tsuboi will die here."
The military came and began a rescue operation. Watching the rescue, I thought “Please take me there, too." But I couldn’t cry out loud by myself.
Because it was a minitruck, if 10 people had got on the back, it would be full. The truck shuttled the people. But one soldier said, “Only young men can ride on this truck. The others cannot.” Not allowing women and children to ride meant not helping them. Old men must not ride, either. Because the military thought they couldn’t go to war, as the guns are too heavy for them to use.
(In these two pictures on the left, Mr. Tsuboi was sitting like a student on the far left)
A Girl Who Escaped in the Direction of the Fire
An elementary school girl put her foot on the truck’s tires. She was trying to ride on the truck. Then, a soldier saw what she was doing and got angry. He said, “Hey, Hey!" Upon hearing his sharp voice, she fell off. I was just watching it. I wanted to say, “Why don’t you let her ride on the truck? If I had said it, the soldier would have said “You’re an unpatriotic person. Are you against the military?“
Then I would be shot. It was that kind of era. Instead, I thought “ That’s too bad". Then, the girl ran away quickly. She escaped in the direction of the burning fire. At that time, I shouted as loudly as possible, “If you have to run away, run to the place without fire!” I didn’t know if she had heard it or not. Even adults would die. If it was only a child, it couldn’t live.
I regret that I couldn’t help her. It makes me suffer even now. It wasn’t just that I have a strong hate against the atomic bomb. But also the fact that I left everyone lived there to died.
Then, the vigilante corps came. And they said “Hey, what are you doing, young man? Just get out of here.” I said, “I can’t walk anymore." Then, one of the men replied,"Okay, I’ll help you.”
I was naked. The sun was shining. He went somewhere and took his shirt off, perhaps. That’s what I reckoned. Then, he offered me his shirt to wear.
After that, he said “Hey! Get on!” He put me in the truck. Even in the truck, it was very hot. Then young people made shade for me. The truck ride was bumpy, so they should have been sitting, but they were standing to block the sun. They were also injured, and they didn’t know when they might fall off the truck. They also said to me, “Never give up." I thought, “Thank you, thank you." many times.
A Reunion With My Classmates
Then, I was carried to the port(Hiroshima Port). When I arrived there, there were already many corpses. Then, I met one of my classmates. He said, ”Oh! Tsuboi! You’re alive! How good of you to come!” There is an island called Ninoshima, which is located about 4 kilometers away to the south. There were army facilities in Ninoshima, so a temporary hospital was built. My classmate said, “Tsuboi! Let’s go to Ninoshima! Let’s go!” “Let’s go! Let’s go together!”
I didn’t know wheather my eyes were opened or closed, because my face became swollen. So I said, “Oh, thank you”. But, I couldn’t live any longer, so I decided. ”You shouldn’t go there with me, so you should stay alive by yourself! Fight!!” I refused his offer like this. Then, he said. “Tsuboi! What are you saying! Hey! We’re friends, right? I can’t leave without you! So, Tsuboi! Ride on my back.” So he put me on his back. He tried hard to help me.
When I saw him, he was burned seriously. His body wasn’t that big and sound. He was wailing carrying me on his back. I I couldn’t remember whether I was walking or not. Someone helped me. So, I am alive now. We went down to the pier. I saw some people fall into the water when trying frantically to get on to the ship. At that time, there was no one to help. Drowning or dying, it doesn’t really matter.
They Said, “You Will Die Tonight.”
(Mr. Tsuboi tells about his experience to high school students)
On the island, a military medic said to everyone, “You are in this building” and “You are in that building”. I was in Building 10. People who might die in a day are sent to Building 10. I’m told it’s no longer tonight. Three days later, many people had to leave that building. I said “Why!! We escaped to here!” They said, “Because you are not military. This is a military facility. Unless you are a soldier, get out of here”.
Even though they were desperate to be alive after suffering from atomic bombing. The soldiers thought that we might die in a few days.
There were many soldiers but they didn’t have much time to carry injured people. Also, there was no medicine. I didn’t remember I had eaten food though. I was left alone.
As if to say, “If you’re going to die, then just die".
I was still conscious after 7 days since coming to Ninoshima. The war ended on August 15th. Japan had lost. I didn’t know when the war was over. Everyone must have been happy, and said, “The war has ended!" Finally, we can live peacefully!” But I didn’t know that.
I woke up on September 26th. I was at my house at that time. In my house, my mother said to me “Did you realize, Sunao, that the war is already over?” I said to her, “What!!” Then I fought with my mother. I said to her, “The war is over? Japan lost the war!? What are you talking about!? Mother, please take me to the battleground”. I was a candidate of special attack corps. I was faithful and I was an aggressive boy, so I could fight in the war. If the war hadn’t ended this early, I wouldn’t be here. I went to war as a member of the special attack corps. So I fought with my parents and said, “What are you saying! What!? Japan lost!? Did you get a leaflet? That was just American propaganda! Don’t be fooled!" My parents were also angry at me.
Although a bit off topic, I heard this from my mother.
When I was in the first aid station, my mother went there to look for me. In the last room in the hospital, I raised my hand unconsciously. I was like, “Here I am!" I didn’t remember that moment though. The next summer finally, I as finally able to walk in my house while holding on to things. I couldn’t remember how many days went by, but I came to be able to walk around by crawling.