A-bomb survivor shares her experience

Fifty-one years after Suzuko Numata lost her left leg to the American atomic bomb in Hiroshima, she no longer thinks of herself as a victim.
“I always think of the innocent children and adults who lost their lives, so I am not going to talk about my own victimization,” said Numata.
Numata, 74, recounted her experience at Hiroshima through a translator on Tuesday night at the St. Paul Student Center Theater before approximately 150 people.
Numata was less than 1 kilometer from the hypocenter of the atomic blast on August 6, 1946. Fortunately, she was within the reinforced concrete confines of the communications center where she worked.
“There was a beautiful flash of white, yellow, green and orange light,” recalled Numata, “and the flash became terrible heat, burning all living things. I was blown by a terrible blast under all kinds of debris.”
Numata regained consciousness to the sound of her uninjured father helping people out of the smoke-filled building. With her leg crushed by rubble and her ankle nearly severed, Numata was borne away on the back of an uninjured co-worker.
She described their flight as “being chased by fire, with voices of the helplessly burned all around calling for help and water.”
Because military medics could not safely enter the area of the blast, her leg was left untreated for three days and became rotten. When medics finally arrived, the leg was sawed off without anesthesia.
“All around did people hear me screaming … that is all that kept me from death at that time.”
Now she walks on her own with crutches. But even after her physical recovery, Numata was filled with sadness.
She described the time after her fiancee disappeared from the war front. She g in Japan. For three years she was depressed and suicidal.
“Little by little, I began to open up my mind,” said Numata, “and became a teacher for 29 years. I (thought) back to that time when I was a high school student without a clear thought or idea about war.
“I cooperated with the war effort and never had any doubt that Japan would win the aggressive war. I now regret that cooperation.”
Gradually, Numata learned about the pain and suffering of the victims of Japan’s aggression.
“Japan’s government started the war,” said Numata, “and therefore should take responsibility for that mistake.”
Numata speaks to students about her Hiroshima experience throughout Asia, the United States and Europe. Numata said she feels that it is her mission as a survivor to expose the truth about the use of nuclear weapons.
“Nuclear weapons and human beings cannot co-exist,” Numata said, “but for now are forced to live together. A-bomb survivors know the horror of nuclear weapons.”
Peace is not possible as long as discrimination continues, Numata added. “Human beings create discriminations,” she concluded. “If we receive hatred and then return hatred, we cannot create peace. The origin of peace is to feel other people’s pains.”