When I did a semester in Japan, a school trip was organised to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and to hear from elderly survivor speak about her experience.
The museum documents artifacts, testimonies, photos and videos contributed by some of the survivors. It was a very sombre and moving experience looking at the personal artifacts, serving as a stark reminder of the destructive effects of nuclear warfare and how such an event should never happen in the world again.
It was a very solemn experience hearing the elderly survivor speak about what she went through on that fateful day. Some wounds may never be healed by time and what happened that day was still clearly etched in her mind as she recounted them with clarity. Prior to this, I thought that most elderly survivors would refrain from talking about the experience for fear of the pain and mental trauma it would evoke. However, she was very open in her sharing and even answered the questions that we had for her. In fact, many of the atomic bomb survivors are overcoming the social stigma to speak out about their experiences to advocate for peace and the elimination of nuclear warfare. A few of them go to the Genbaku Dome every day bringing along photos and newspapers clippings to share their experience with both local and foreign visitors.
There is an urgency in documenting and passing them their stories to the next generation. The bombing appears to be fading from the minds of the general public as a NHK survey found that majority of Japanese do not remember the date of the bombing. There is also the reality that these survivors are in their old age, hence the next generation will need to step in to preserve these stories.