"Thinking about Peace"
by Sunao Tsuboi
Chairperson of the Board, Hiroshima Prefecture Confederation
of Atomic Bomb Sufferers Organizations
Atomic Bombing Experience
On August 6, around 67 years ago, I experienced the atomic bombing as a 20-year-old student on
the street near the city hall, approximately one kilometer from the epicenter.
Feeling a piercing silver-white flash of light, I was thrown about ten meters and passed out. After
a while I regained consciousness. My clothes were half burned, and I had burns all over my face
and my entire body. My earlobes were hanging off in shreds and my lips had swelled up. Trying to
put out the fire on my clothes, and semi-naked, I continued to wander around the streets of the
city that had been transformed into a sea of fire, with no idea where to flee.
The atomic bomb brought me to the brink of death, and I have absolutely no recollection of the
war ending. It was not until summer in the following year that I was able to get up from my hospital
bed and somehow manage to walk weakly. After that I was hospitalized twelve times and fell into a
critical condition three times, but I managed to escape death.
I currently suffer from chronic aplastic anemia, have experienced cancer twice, and am also
threatened with angina. As a result I need to receive an intravenous drip once every two weeks.
And the emotional anxiety and pain is not limited just to me. I cannot help but worry about the
effects on my children and grandchildren. I feel the deepest indignation at the destruction that the
atomic bomb inflicted on peoples' bodies, emotions and livelihoods.
Nuclear weapon abolition activities
As one of the survivors of the atomic bombing, I continue with efforts to achieve our earnest wish
to abolish nuclear weapons, using as a base my atomic bombing experience.
Despite my old age, I force myself to go to elementary, junior and senior high schools to give talks
on my atomic bombing experience, to spread information on the reality of the damage from the
bomb. I also continue to call for peace by participating in peace rallies held all over Japan.
In terms of overseas peace activities, I have visited various countries in Europe, Africa, the
Middle East, South East and North East Asia (including North Korea), and America. I have been to
America eight times.
At the NPT Review Conference in May 2010, I travelled to America as part of a group of fifty
atomic bomb survivors. We participated in Atomic Bombing Exhibitions and survivors' testimonial
activities held by the United Nations, and appealed for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the
creation of a world free of war.
In March 2011 I went to Beijing to participate in peace exchange activities conducted with the
Chinese People's Association for Peace and Disarmament. This was my twenty-first overseas
exchange session, and I am proud to say that it was meaningful.
I learned of the Great East Japan Earthquake when I was in Beijing. I felt surprise, nervousness,
and emotional pain at natural and man-made disasters. I felt particular anxiety about the accident
at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
To use nuclear power for peaceful purposes,
naturally the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) needs to be strengthened. But in
addition, I strongly feel that the world needs to
think deeply about shifting from material
affluence to spiritual affluence. The
international community should look for a path
that is not reliant on nuclear power.
It is pleasing to see that the forum for
discussions on measures to resolve nuclear
issues is starting to move from dialogue
between America and Russia alone to
discussions among the various bodies of the
Discussion with Hiroshima Mayor Matsui (front
right) on the Fukushima nuclear issue (June 30, 2011)
We atomic bomb survivors are getting older and growing weaker from illness. However, we have
gone beyond feelings of bitterness or hatred or revenge. We are resolutely walking the path of
appealing for the abolition of nuclear weapons, the urgent and crucial issue that must be resolved
for the happiness of humankind and peace in the world.
Humans are not stupid. If all tribes and races, beyond national borders, can collect as "humans",
forge an harmonious political and economic framework, find hope in education and religion, and build
a dignified culture, true peace will be guaranteed.
It is not possible to avoid war with emotional dialogue. The promise of peace will come through
dialogue that is conducted with reason and wisdom.
I intend to continue these efforts with my colleagues until the day comes when I can see for
myself that the last nuclear weapon has been abolished.
Whatever happens, at whatever time, we will never give up.
Never give up!
Profile: Sunao Tsuboi
Born 1925. Experienced the atomic bombing as a twenty-year-old student of the former Hiroshima
Prefecture Engineering Technical College (currently the Engineering Faculty of Hiroshima
University). Formerly a teacher, after retiring as principal of Hiroshima Municipal Jonan Junior High
School in 1986, he joined the atomic bomb survivors' movement, appealing for the abolition of
nuclear weapons and world peace by giving atomic bombing testimonies in Japan and overseas.
Representative member of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations,
Chairperson of the Board of Hiroshima Prefecture Confederation of Atomic Bomb Sufferers
Organizations, and a Councilor of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. Awarded the Kiyoshi
Tanimoto Peace Prize in 2011.