As an American, I can only read with horror Terao-san's account of the nightmare of Hiroshima. And as an American, I bear part of my country's collective guilt over what we inflicted on that terrible, terrible day in 1945.
I had the great honor of living in Japan, from 1957-1960, when I was a small boy. My memories of those times, although dim, still remain with me. I recall with pleasure the happiness of those days, and the graciousness with which the Japanese people treated a young boy from a foreign land.
I also had the honor of ascending Fujiyama; I stayed in a mountain lodge on the sacred mountain, and reached the summit the next morning.
My fervent hope and plea is that never, never again will the world go to war with itself as it has so many times before, and that my Japanese brothers and sisters will lead the rest of us in ridding the planet once and for all time of the obscenity of nuclear weapons.
(Mr.) Robin Sheppard
Napa, California, USA
The response from the editor. 20 January.1997
Dear Robin Sheppard,
Thank you for your message.
I was deeply moved by reading your favor for Japan, love to your mother country, and your strong will to materialize the world peace.
The message that began "As an American" deeply penetrated my heart. "As a Japanese", I can't but examine our own mistakes not only we made in the past but also we are still making today.
In human society, our culture has already fully matured and science has been in progress to wide extent. But we can't still eliminate the war in which man hates and kills each other. This is a big contradiction. Whenever I hear Mr.Terao's cry of heart, I come to the belief that we have to ponder over the problem not as "a constituent of a nation" but as "an individual."
When I read back the Terao Memoir, I realized anew that there is no piece of word either "America" or "Japan." He talked quietly only about his nightmare which he wanted to erase from his memory.
He summed up his account just saying "NEVER AGAIN SUCH A THING." He never used words like "nuclear weapon" or "war" but merely expressed "such a thing." I believe this simple expression can't come from any other place than his own bitter experience that scared his soul so deeply.
Mr. Terao directed his words toward neither government nor society but toward the deepest bottom of the heart each of us. I understand what he hoped through his bitter confess was to appeal his faith that real peace was born and grew from there.
A small milestone was set by an elder who confessed his actual experience of the A-bomb, who saw a hell on earth, and who suffered fifty years with mental scar and unrest of radioactivity that might have damaged himself and his descendants. I would like to develop this tiny movement to bring his cry into the heart of all the people around the world. This is why I prepared this site.
I am happy if you help our site hereinafter and stay in touch with me as well.
The editor of "The personal account of A-bomb survival"
It may be somewhat hard for me, who knows nothing about the war, to thoroughly understand the Terao Memoir.
Still I have to learn the tragedy of actual war in order to lay deep in my mind that we should never wage war or allow it to exist. Also I must feel the pain and resentment of the victims to comfort their souls at all.
I think that during the war, people were inspired to hate their enemy and justify the actions of their mother land. Or they even assisted in promoting the war. Who was to blame? I have long been wondering about it.
I understand that those people who fought the war at the front, and those who were forced to manufacture the weapons behind the scenes, had no choice then. Even the supreme leaders might have gone mad at that time. We have to hate war itself rather than somebody involved in it.
We were born in a peaceful time. We tend to look at war as something cool and exciting.
I often find myself indulged in simulated video war games or watching war movies for fun. This is probably because I don't know at all the actual tragedy of real war.
I understand, no doubt, that the war victims must feel very sad to see us behaving like this.
With the help of all the people who courageously spoke out like the late Mr. Terao, I must carve their teachings deep into my heart, so as not to repeat the mistake. Finally, I made up my mind to hand down the Memoir to the next generation by myself.
Dear Mr. Terao, please watch us in heaven.
I don't like to hate a country itself or the people living in it. What I do hate are deeds like the "A-bombing" and "War." (I feel those words may not be appropriate but I don't know a better way to express my feelings.)
I say"No" to the "A-bomb" and to "War." This in not because I am a Japanese but because I am a human being. If we can consider the matter from a different point of view, apart from our mother country, or if we can think of it from a larger scale, not dividing the globe by borders, we will probably be able to create a "better" world.
But it is not right to turn my back to what my country, Japan, did in the past. In my school days, I was taught much about how my country "suffered" from other countries. But I don't have any memory that I have read in the textbook about what we "did" to other nations. What we did I heard on my own after I grew up.
We learn "history" for the future, to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Each of us should help create a peaceful world. This should be our answer to the late Mr. Terao, to those who were exposed to the A-bomb, to the victims of the war.
I read the "the comment from the editor" by Mr. Matsumura.
Many Japanese, in trying to gain a complete picture of historical events, have learned about Japan's war crimes during the Imperialist time period. These Japanese often feel a strong sense of guilt for the mistakes of their parents and grandparents. It is natural that they would feel shame and regret for any association with cruel deeds or bad judgement, but I hope that the post-war Japanese do not feel personal responsibility for the actions of their ancestors.
It is true that many Asians, particularly Chineses and Koreans, are still angry with statements and policies of the Japanese government. Perhaps some of their feelings about the government are justified - but to direct their anger at peaceful and compassionate people in Japan is a sad mistake.
I cannot speak for everyone else in the world, but I think I can say that most Americans have no ill-will (dislike) toward today's Japanese because of mistakes made by older generations. All races are guilty of violence and bad judgement; the important thing is to recognize and avoid such acts in the future.
Even the Japanese war veterans and military sympathizers (supporters) who are still alive deserve our tolerance and understanding. In most cases, their own feelings of guilt, shame, and humiliation must surely be punishment enough - sometimes, perhaps, even too much. We might all consider what we ourselves would have done if we had been in their shoes. If we were born into their family and their government situation, would we have behaved differently at all? The same kind of understanding might be extended to the U.S. government officials who chose to drop atomic weapons on Japanese cities. In their view (perhaps a misguided one), they were acting to prevent a greater loss of life. We can only hope to know better in the future.
Our mistakes are the result of ignorance and weakness, of not knowing the correct action to take, or not having the inner strength to do what we know is right. If we hope to avoid the mistakes which result in war, we must properly educate and train our children, ourselves, and ultimately, everyone in the world. As Mr. Matsumura has recommended, we must learn how to consider all the possible views of each important decision that we make. We must then have the strength and determination to pursue the best course of action. In a truly civilized world, there is no reason for war - it is our responsibility to achieve that kind of civilization.
I have just read the Terao Memoir. I am now at a loss for words to express my feelings.
When I was an elementary school boy, I read a comic titled "Bare footed Gen." That was my first encounter with the A-bomb. I also made a family trip to Hiroshima and visited the A-bomb museum. I felt horror from the bottom of my heart. As the late Mr.Terao and other readers say, I also claim "Such a thing should not be repeated."
As you may know, there are many sophisticated video games, which you may call "Virtual reality" or something similar. Silly enough to say, those who want to make a war, do it only in the virtual world on a computer screen, and you'll be satisfied.
Above all, I want to say "Don't make a war under any circumstances."
I just read the memoirs and was quite touched. To me it is inconceivable as to how life was at that terrible time. I will never be able to understand the emotions and anxieties experienced by so many people. I only hope that in our lifetime that the hate and prejudices that so many people feel disappears and compassion can become part of our daily lives.
We all are responsible citizens of the world and it is our duty to make sure that our children never have to experince anything half as devastating. I thank you for sharing these journals with the world. It was avery courageous thing to do. I willgo to sleep tonight with many disturbing but necessary thoughts.
I am a high school student from Fresno, California, USA named Darren Solano. I would just like to tell you that my parents, being Filipino, have told me some things about the unfortunate tragedy that occurred in your nation. But now, I have seen the whole story. I cannot articulate how shocked I am at this event and why it had to happen. But I feel that what you have done will help all of humanity to never contemplate using the atomic bomb ever again.
You may post my message on your page. And again, thank you for creating this page to inform all of world about this tragic massacre. I personally believe that the United States, even in the actions of war should have not followed through with their plans of destruction. Be sure to continue your wonderful work and I will do my best to inform people about your web page.
Mr. Terao moved me
My name is Hiromi Hirano. I am a teacher of Japanese in a junior high school in Inazawa city Aichi prefecture.
I was really moved by reading the experience of Mr. Terao and many messages sent to the memoir from good-willed readers.
I myself grew up hearing the war experiences of my parents. I strongly remember the shock I got at A-bomb memorial hall of Hiroshima when I visited it on my high school's excursion. I also read "Bare footed Gen" and "Atomic-bomb Orphans."
After I became a teacher, I regularly give lectures to my students under the theme of "peace" every July. This year, I made my first grade students listen to a tape titled "The Monument" prepared by Hiroshima TV. Every time I listen to the tape, my eyes are flooded with tears. All my students also listen it eagerly.
The elder generation sometimes complains of present-day trends of the youngsters. But my students could completely understand the meaning of the tape. On the street, people talk in loud voices about a cold-blooded murder case committed by a mere 14-year-old boy in Kobe city. Some attribute the case to the education system of Japan. Youngsters' hearts are, however, still healthy and pure - not only yesterday but also today. The record of war experience described in the memoir should be handed down to the next generation in a right way in order to cultivate the open minds of them.
I am still a beginner of the Internet but I really feel I am happy to be involved in it. May I introduce the memoir to the students in my class after tomorrow? I would be happy if you could suggest to me any other useful information. Thank you again.
Hiromi Hirano Aichi JAPAN, 22 july,1997
This is Hirano, who sent you an e-mail the other day. I thank you again for your information on peace education. I am sorry to be late, I have been very busy with semester-end desk work. Here is my report on the class. I taught four classes of the first grade of our junior high school, totaling 154 students.
In the first period, I make my students listen to a documentary tape on the atomic bomb titled "The monument." In the second period, each student is asked to give their impressions in short, and set an individual subject to study. In the third and fourth periods, they collect materials and write the reports. In the fifth and sixth periods, they read the summaries and finally write their impressions.
There were many subjects:
1. To write letters to the characters in the tape of "The monument."
2. To write impressions on "peace."
3. To read aloud "The monument" with ideas.
4. To study about the background of "The monument."
5. To study about other related themes such as atomic bombs, the Pacific war, and lives under the war.
All the students eagerly researched the data and making reports by referring to the data in the school library, bringing books from their homes, and asking their families about their experiences of the war.
Some of the students even accessed the Internet home page of Hiroshima. They summed up the study results on Japanese vellums or in printings. After all of them reported their findings, I introduced the Terao memoir.
Here are some samples of impressions of the students:
I finally understood the pains of the dead and the survivors. What a terrible bomb it was. Just a single blast thoroughly wiped out all of Hiroshima city. I can't imagine the destructive power of an H-bomb which is said to have 700 times that of an A-bomb. Why do people produce such terrible weapons? They are exploded under the name of "experiments" but what does it mean anyway? Mankind claims not to destroy the earth, but they destroy it by his own hand. I wonder why? (S.S male)
I felt as follows by hearing the reports and teacher's lecture:
First of all I understood that an A-bomb was really devastating and horrible. The teacher told me the chilly story of the Terao memoir. Within seconds the landscape changed, he even witnessed the shock wave of the blast coming toward him destroying houses on the way.... Those people who evaporated in a second and those who survived with deep scars in their hearts, both of them were really miserable.
Why didn't Mr. Terao talk about his experience for decades? I guess it was because he didn't want to remember the terrible scene which couldn't be imagined by other people.
Never repeat such a miserable war. Nuclear weapons should be eliminated by any means, to create a peaceful world. (M.N female)
All the messages of the students appealed for world peace. I will continue this kind of peace education from now on.
I must admit, that in many debates in school, I have supported the American decision to use the Atomic Bomb. My grandfather, who was in China during the war, often told me stories of the atrocities commited by the Japanese soldiers and how great America was. As a very impressionable child, I emulated his hatred for the Japanese people.
As I mature, I have learned that matters are never right and wrong, there are always grey areas. Recently I have become very interested in the history of WWII. I began to read more and more about the decision to drop the bomb, and alternatives to that decision.
Tonight, I came upon the late Mr. Terao's memoirs. The Bombing had never really been real in my mind, to me, it was just another statistic, a date to be memorized for the next history test. After reading the memoirs, this horrible event has become real in my mind, just as the holocaust did after I had seen Schindler's List. I now regret defending America's decision with such zeal in a debate in school. And I regret thinking of the Japanese people as a race of demons when I was a small boy. I think of everything I had said and thought, and I see the victims of the bombing in my head, and my heart fills with remorse and regret.
Even though we would all like to forget the bombing, the war, all war, we must continue to educate the youth of the world in these matters. And it must involve a better method than today's overly verbose textbooks. Otherwise, the next generation will all think of these horrific events as just another statistic, and these foolist acts by humanity will be repeated. Thank you for taking a step in educating those of us that do not remember.
Ho Ying Fan, a 16 year old Chinese American immigrant.
My name is Ikuko Tsuchiya. I am just a beginner on the Internet.
I am in the first grade of Osaka municipal high school Senri. As homework for the summer, I was asked to make a report on the A-bomb by gathering data under the theme of "Thinking about 52 years after World War 2." I was looking for data and finally came to your home page.
I must confess that I have been intentionally averting my eyes from the books and information on the war until today. To tell the truth, the war records were so terrible they deterred me from looking it in the eye. But the memoir taught me that there are many people who are still suffering from memories they want to erase.
I feel really sad to know that there are still wars in the world even in this moment. I believe those people (including me) who turn their eyes away from the horror of an A-bomb should learn more about it in order to not repeat the mistakes.
The 6th of August comes soon indeed....... I will read through a book on the war during the summer holidays. Thank you again.
I learned the existence of the Memoir through a local paper yesterday.
I am not sure how I should express my impressions of the memoir. Please excuse me for sending my unpolished message.
I haven't experienced any war. I heard about the war only in the peace class in my school days. As most teachers themselves had no experience of the war, I couldn't grasp the reality of it. I remember that the movies of the war which were shown to the class, didn't include very cruel scenes. I feel I have heard the real voice of the war for the first time by reading the Memoir.
I think it required from Mr. Terao unthinkable courage to release his sad and hard experience on the web. I greatly appreciate him for doing so.
The memoir taught many things about real war for us who don't have any experience of it.
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