The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Hiroshima survivor tells U.N. chief of horrors

- By Madoka Mamezuka

HIROSHIMA — An 83-year-old man who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima met with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday at the city’s annual Peace Memorial Ceremony — the rst time for a U.N. chief to attend the event in 12 years.

Sharing the horrors of the weaponry that had claimed his family’s lives, Shingo Naito said he had decided to “convey the enormity of the atomic bomb” due to his fury over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Naito — the third son of ve siblings — was just 6 years old when the United States bombed the city 77 years ago.

All seven members of his family had travelled back to Hiroshima from their evacuation locations to bid farewell to Naito’s 45-year-old father, who was leaving on a business trip to Manchuria, now northeast China.

The family dined together in the evening, and the bomb exploded the following morning.

Naito had been crouching near the entrance to an air-raid shelter in his yard and was blown into the dugout. He was unscathed, but he found his father standing in the yard, charred. “Oh, Shingo, you were safe,” his father said in

a weak voice. Naito then saw his mother emerge from their collapsed house holding his blood-covered 4-year-old brother and 2-year-old sister.

On the way to the Imperial Japanese Army air eld in the city, Naito could not hold his father’s hand, as it was so badly burned. By the time they arrived at the air eld, the bodies of his brother and sister were cold. Four days later, his father suddenly awoke, stood up, screamed, then fell dead.

Naito’s 13-year-old and 9-year-old brothers were at school or elsewhere and died when the bomb exploded.

His mother passed at the age of 47, when Naito was 14. e doctor told him she had expired from overwork.

Naito was subsequent­ly taken in by a relative and got a job at a power company a er high school. He married at 28 and was blessed with three daughters.

Naito said he would become too tearful to speak when recalling the bombing and declined requests to share his experience­s with anyone. However, a er reaching his 80s, he heard news reports about survivors growing old, which moved him.

“I was the only [member of my family] to survive to this age,” he recalled thinking. “e incident might fade if I remain quiet.” Two years ago, he agreed to speak as an A-bomb survivor a er he and others were solicited by Hiroshima City.

He began writing a dra earlier this year but repeatedly grew discourage­d. At the time, Russia had just invaded Ukraine and had hinted at the use of nuclear weapons.

“I couldn’t just stand by and watch the world go to pot,” Naito said. “I felt I had to speak up.”

Driven by a sense of impending crisis, he started writing about his experience­s in April.

On Saturday — the 77th anniversar­y of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima — Naito met Guterres along with four other A-bomb survivors.

He told the U.N. chief of his experience­s and urged him not to let the issue fade. For his part, Guterres urged Naito to continue telling the world about his story.

“It was encouragin­g to meet the head of the United Nations,” Naito said after the meeting. “I want to pass on the horrors of war to the next generation.” (Aug. 9)

 ?? ?? A-bomb survivor Shingo Naito, right, meets with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, far left, on Saturday in Naka Ward, Hiroshima.
A-bomb survivor Shingo Naito, right, meets with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, far left, on Saturday in Naka Ward, Hiroshima.

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