President Obama visited Hiroshima on Friday. It was the first visit by a sitting American president to the city in the 71 years since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city, killing over 140,000 civilians.
Amongst a delegation of survivors is Toshiharu Kano, an American citizen who had not been to Hiroshima since 1961, which is when his family returned to the U.S.
Kano, who goes by Tosh, had actually yet to enter the world on August 6, 1945. His mother was only 12 weeks pregnant and was one of the very few who escaped from the one-mile radius of the blast’s epicenter with his sister Yorie, who was three and a half.
Surviving the bombing has been a lifelong struggle for his family. His mother and sister were burned, witnessing extreme horror as they fled. His older brother died two months after the explosion. His father was involved in the clean-up — moving thousands of burned bodies out of the flattened city — and he told Kano that the work was so overwhelming, he didn’t fully understand what had happened until three weeks later.
His parents, born in Hawaii Territory, had their citizenship revoked for 15 years. His grandfather lost his land in Hawaii to be interned in Wyoming for three years. Kano and his sister have dealt with lifelong illnesses from radiation exposure.
As there were for past American presidents, there have been calls for Obama to apologize on behalf of the country for the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Kano does not see that as a constructive part of healing. To cope with the trauma, he focuses on forgiveness, peace, and ending the use of nuclear weapons.
“I don’t expect him to apologize because it was a war,” he said. “Physical and emotional scars remain forever and ever. So we cannot afford to use this type of weapon against each other. That is my message to the world: That for survivors, it’s going to be so difficult to survive day to day.”
Hear his full story at the link above.
Content note: This is an emotional personal testimony that includes graphic descriptions of injuries and human remains.
Tosh Kano, his mother was 12 weeks pregnant with him at the time of the bombing; he and his sister are the only living survivors who were within a half mile radius of the blast’s epicenter. Tosh has not been back to Hiroshima since 1961 but travelled there with his sister for the President’s visit.