Pope hears of Hiroshima ‘scene of hell’

The Citizen (KZN) - - World -

– Sur­vivors of the nu­clear at­tack on Hiroshima told Pope Fran­cis yes­ter­day of the “scene of hell” after the bomb­ing, as the pon­tiff hit out against the use of the weapons.

The pope be­gan his four-day trip to Ja­pan with stops in Na­gasaki and Hiroshima, where he paid tribute to those af­fected by the two bombs dropped by US forces in 1945, at the end of World War II.

In Hiroshima, Fran­cis met sev­eral sur­vivors of the at­tack, who echoed his calls for the world never to for­get the atroc­ity of the bomb­ings.

Yoshiko Ka­ji­moto was 14 years old when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Au­gust 6, 1945, killing at least 140 000 peo­ple.

“When I went out­side, all the sur­round­ing build­ings were de­stroyed. It was dark as evening and smelled like rot­ten fish,” she told the pope at the Peace Me­mo­rial. Her eyes closed tight and her voice trem­bling oc­ca­sion­ally, she de­scribed peo­ple “walk­ing side by side like ghosts, peo­ple whose whole body was so burnt that I could not tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween men and women”.

“No one in this world can imag­ine such a scene of hell,” she added, re­call­ing the days of white smoke that hung above the city as the vic­tims were cre­mated.

Ka­ji­moto found her fa­ther three days after the at­tack, but he died 18 months later from ra­di­a­tion poi­son­ing.

She told Fran­cis her mother suf­fered ill­nesses from the atomic bomb for 20 years and de­scribed her own bat­tles with stom­ach can­cer and leukaemia.

“I work hard to bear wit­ness that we must not use such ter­ri­ble atomic bombs again, nor let any­one in the world en­dure such suf­fer­ing,” she said.

In a speech at the Hiroshima peace me­mo­rial, the pope said he was hum­bled by the “strength and dig­nity” of the sur­vivors.

“With deep con­vic­tion I wish once more to de­clare that the use of atomic en­ergy for pur­poses of war is to­day, more than ever, a crime not only against the dig­nity of hu­man be­ings, but against any pos­si­ble fu­ture for our com­mon home,” he said.

As sur­vivors of the bomb at­tacks age, many fear that their mes­sage of nu­clear abo­li­tion will be forgotten. They are hope­ful the pope will bring re­newed at­ten­tion to the move­ment.

Tes­ti­mony from another sur­vivor Koji Hosokawa, who was un­able to make the cer­e­mony, was read out to the pope. “I think ev­ery­one should re­alise that the atomic bombs were dropped, not on Hiroshima and Na­gasaki, but on all hu­man­ity,” ac­cord­ing to Hosokawa’s mes­sage.

“Although there is lit­tle time left for me, I be­lieve that pass­ing on the ex­pe­ri­ence of Hiroshima to the next gen­er­a­tion is the fi­nal mis­sion as­signed to us A-bomb sur­vivors.” – AFP

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