Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Survivors: Where Are They Now?

While there’s no denying countless individuals were sadly killed in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US towards the end of World War I, thousands actually survived. These “hibakushas” reportedly outlasted being within a few kilometers of the hypocenters and radiation explosion simply through sheer luck, pain, perseverance, or being in their mother’s bellies. Their exact number is close to 110,000 (alive out of the estimated original 650,000) at the moment, yet if we’re being honest, only a limited few are publicly known owing to significant projects such as Netflix’s ‘Turning Point: The Bomb and The Cold War.’

Howard Kakita is Settled in Los Angeles, California

It was 1938 when Howard was born to his Japanese immigrant parents in East Los Angeles, just for them to take him to visit their shared homeland as well as his grandparents in 1940. However, while his parents and younger brother came back to the United States soon after to take care of the family business, he and an older brother, Kenny, stayed back for a while, unaware a war would soon break out. It turns out they were 0.8 miles from the Hiroshima hypocenter on August 6, 1945, while his family was incarcerated in Japan, and thankfully, by some miracle, they all survived before reuniting in 1948. Howard then pursued a career in computer engineering before retiring from Xerox for good in 2012, and has since joined the American Society Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors (ASA) to actively share his experiences while also spending quality time with his loved ones.

Keiko Ogura is a Renowned Activist, Interpreter, and Storyteller

According to reports, Keiko was merely 8 when she was exposed to horrible radiation by being 2.4km away from the hypocenter where the US dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Nevertheless, she recovered before going on to graduate from Hiroshima Jogakuin University in 1959, tied the knot with the love of her life, Kaoru Ogura, in 1962, before following in his footsteps following his death in 1979. He was the Director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum as well as a secretary general of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, and she soon established the Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace. This Japanese native has since also published the Hiroshima Handbook, Hiroshima Peace Park Guide, Hip’s Hiroshima Guide, and One Day in Hiroshima, all the while also being the official teller of Hiroshima A-bomb experience in English, as appointed by the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation in 2011.

Kunihiko IIda is Still in Hiroshima

Although Kunihiko lost his father in the war of Okinawa and suffered greatly from the Hiroshima bombing since his family home was merely 900 meters from the hypocenter, he has done wonders in life. The blast did rob him of his mother and sister, too, as they later died of necrosis while he was recovering from severe burns, just to continue grappling for a while. However, he soon turned his world upside down to enjoy a long career as an engineer prior to retiring in his 70s to enjoy a stable life alongside his family. But then he became determined to share his story and delivered as many as 20 speeches a month while also learning English on the side. Though now, he does struggle a little as an 81-year-old, especially because he’s now sadly battling tumors in the thyroid and brain along with other health issues.

Teruko Yahata is Now Sharing Her Story With The World

Teruko was eight when she witnessed the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima from her home in Koi-hon-machi, a mere 2.5km from the hypocenter, alongside her paternal great-grandmother, grandmother, parents, older sister, plus two younger brothers. Thankfully, they all survived, but the trauma from the experience itself was enough to turn their world upside down, especially as their school subsequently turned into a cremation site too. Therefore, in 2013, she started traveling the world to tell her story, just to later learn English to do so in her own words, and go as far as to attend the G7 to share her story with the sole aim of raising awareness about the tragedy of nuclear bombs.

Kingo Kawahara is a Proud Family Man

At the age of 19, Kingo was a train conductor for Japan’s National Railway at the time of the atomic bombings, following which he helped carry the wounded on a freight train running on the Geibi Line despite suffering sevee burns to his head and back himself. Though the scars from his burns lingered for more than a decade, the scars of his trauma, as well as its ensuing bullying, lasted longer, and that’s the fact this 97-year-old struggles to talk about to this day. However, he is now glad to have lived a good life, especially as he’s enjoying getting to embrace everything as a retiree alongside his wife, with whom he shares many children as well as at least seven grandchildren plus two great-grandchildren.

Masaaki Takano is Still be based near Hiroshima

On August 6, 1945, Masaaki was on his way from school when he got caught in the black rain of radioactive energy and ash following the bombing, leading him to develop severe illnesses. He even contracted cancer and cataracts in the later years because of the same, yet neither he nor those who suffered similar fates as him were recognized as A-bomb survivors for the longest time, and they even suffered verbal abuse owing to the same. He was thus one of the lead plaintiffs in the local black rain case to get the much-needed help he, as well as fellow survivors, deserved, and now, at the age of 85, he continues to be a voice for those like him while also spending quality time with loved ones.

Sadao Hirano is an Activist

Image Credit: CNN Türk

At the age of 12, Sadao lost both her parents as well as her little sister on the morning of August 6, 1945, while suffering some severe injuries herself despite being 3.5 km away from the hypocenter. She’s hence one of the few individuals to know the pain of survival first-hand, but she has since taken the same and tried to transform it into something emotionally beautiful by ensuring the world knows the importance of peace. Like many of her fellow survivors, she has actually spent the last few years traveling and giving speeches across the globe, especially at the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Museum, in an attempt to make a difference.

Toshiko Tanaka is a Professional Craft Artist

Image Credit: Toshiko Tanaka/Refinery29

Toshiko was walking to school at nearly seven years old when the atomic bomb dropped 2.3 km away from her, making her fall right under the nuclear cloud and sustain various injuries. With charred skin, burned hair, high fever, plus many more complications, she fell into a coma for a week only to gradually begin healing as best as she could thanks to the care, love, and kindness of her mother as well as fellow loved ones. However, it wasn’t until this professional craft artist was nearly 70 that she could bring herself to talk about the past openly, but once she did, she began to feel a sense of responsibility and has thus since been traveling across the globe to raise awareness about the horrors of nuclear weapons plus bring about peace.

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