The Yomiuri Shimbun Fukuo Dogochi, a 90-year-old survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, does not have confidence in his health, as his strength weakened following gallstone surgery last year.
“I thought I’d decline to work as a storyteller anymore,” said Dogochi, who lives in Akiota, Hiroshima Prefecture.
Despite not feeling well, Dogochi shared his memories with about 40 junior high school students in May this year. “It happened when I was around your age,” Dogochi said as he started his account. He told how he was exposed to radiation when he entered the devastated city of Hiroshima six days after the atomic bomb dropped.
The young Dogochi saw smoke rising from a wooden utility poll, which looked like a candle. He also saw many injured people lined up at a station. The students listened to him attentively during his hour-long account.
Several days after talking to the students, Dogochi vomited blood when he coughed. He reflected in that moment how unfair his fate was: In his younger days, he was ordered to fight against even bombs with a bamboo pike, and he was ultimately exposed to radiation.
Dogochi felt once again that it was his duty to tell others about his life until his last moment.
The incident in which he vomited blood made Dogochi think more seriously about how to pass his experiences on to younger generations. He aims to nurture his “successors” by establishing by the end of the year a group of children of atomic bombing survivors who are willing to work as storytellers.
“I’m wondering how much today’s children can understand those years,” Dogochi said. “Even so, we have to keep talking about them.”