Keeping a Record of Classmates
Courtesy of Chieko Seki
Chieko Seki (then, 13) was a second-year student at Second Hiroshima Prefectural Girls High School, which was located in Ujina. On the day of the bombing, she felt unwell and stayed home in Ujina-machi, where she was exposed to the atomic bomb. Her 39 classmates and three teachers experienced the atomic bombing as they were demolishing buildings in Zakoba-cho (now, Kokutaiji-machi 1-chome, Naka-ku). Only one classmate survived. Chieko has never been able to get rid of her feelings of guilt that she survived by not going to school that day.
In 1976, Chieko participated in a bereaved families’ gathering and heard the sad and painful stories they had to tell. She decided to compile the A-bomb records of her classmates. She tracked back over the lives of all 38 classmates and in 1985, published ‘Second Grade, West Class, Second Hiroshima Prefectural Girls High School.’ She continues to talk about her own experience and her classmates’ deaths even today.
‘Second Hiroshima Prefectural Girls High School 2nd Year West Class – Classmates who died from the atomic bomb’
(Chieko Seki, Chikumashobo Ltd., 1985)
Eight years were spent collecting records after the atomic bombing.
A-bomb Experience Told after 24 Years
Masao Maruyama (then, 31) was an assistant professor at the Faculty of Law of Tokyo Imperial University. In April 1945, he was re-conscripted and assigned to the Information Group, Staff Section at Army Marine Headquarters. Maruyama experienced the bombing during the morning assembly in a courtyard in front of the headquarters. He escaped injury because he was shielded by a tall control tower. On the 9th, together with the press group members, Maruyama set out to Ote-machi, Aioi Bridge, Hiroshima Castle, Hatchobori, and Sentei (now, Shukkeien Garden) for investigation.
After being demobilized, he returned to the University. In 1946, Maruyama made his debut in the world of scholars and journalists with a work entitled The Logic and Psychology of Ultranationalism. Subsequently, he became one of Japan’s leading political scientists, exercising influence in various arenas. In August 1969, 24 years after the atomic bombing, Maruyama disclosed his photographic records of the bombing in the Chugoku Shimbun newspaper, speaking of his A-bomb experience for the first time. Referring to the reality that A-bomb survivors are suffering and dying from the aftereffects of the atomic bomb even today, 24 years after the event, he said “[Hiroshima] is not a page in the horrific records of the War, … Hiroshima is a reality that is occurring each day. It is challenging us with new issues each and every day.” After that, he never spoke again about his A-bomb experience, maintaining that he was a bystander close to the scene rather than someone who lived in Hiroshima. He never applied for an Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Certificate. He died in 1996.