Hibakusha: A-bomb sufferers’ group official regrets praising Obama speech via The Mainichi

The secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, who praised the speech given by United States President Barack Obama during his visit to Hiroshima, says he regretted doing so after learning the content of the speech in more detail.


“Death did not ‘fall from the sky.’ This is making the death abstract. This is absolutely unacceptable,” Tanaka thought. While on board the train he opened his laptop and began to write his “Essay of Regret.” As he typed, erased and retyped, he says, “I began to get angry and stopped midway.”

“They ‘created’ the death. As a sign of apology, I want them to eliminate nuclear weapons,” he says.

Within the Essay of Regret, Tanaka blamed himself. At the press conference, he had, without thinking back well on the speech’s contents, praised the speech’s proactive tone. While he also expressed his dissatisfaction with its lack of any concrete description of the path forward to ending nuclear weapons, he still regrets what he said and feels he must take strong responsibility for his words then.

Tanaka was 13 years old when the Nagasaki atomic bomb hit. He was at his home some 3.2 kilometers from the hypocenter. A glass door dislodged by the blast and other debris fell on him, but he was miraculously unhurt. When he returned to the blasted area three days later to check on his relatives, he found charred corpses strewn around the area.

“There was (the corpse of) somebody with maggots growing,” he recalls. The bomb stole the lives of five of his relatives, including an aunt.


Tanaka says, “It does not mean that we just want him to say ‘I apologize.’ We want him to stand at the forefront of the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons from the world.”

He adds, “Seventy-one years ago, death did not ‘fall from the sky’ like some natural phenomenon. They ‘created’ it when they dropped the atomic bomb. They created a hell that mustn’t exist in our world.” (By Sachi Fukushima, City News Department, Tokyo Head Office)

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