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The horror of Hiroshima after the atomic bombing (Japanese)

(Japanese) When I entered into the city of Hiroshima, there were just bodies wrapped in cloth all over the streets. In the river, there still were floating corpses. Yes. That was… (inaudible). Because the area was completely flattened out, we all at first thought that maybe this was due to a huge earthquake, and not the effects of a bombing. But then, after a while, we realized it wasn’t from an earthquake. What could it be? Then, of course, the next day we found out about this thing called the atom bomb.

Yes, we walked and walked, for half a day we walked to the other side of a Hiroshima (train) station. Hmm, the name of the station… is recorded somewhere here, but yes, we walked there. So we’re at this station in Hiroshima—I still remember this. Was it about sundown? We finally stopped to eat some nigiri-meshi (rice balls), and I think it was either a little bit cloudy or raining… For some reason, something, I’m not sure, it was a feeling beyond any man’s imagination—I was overcome with this complete sorrow that I could not even begin to put into words.

So I really experienced the truly horrifying effects of an atomic bomb, and I do tell others that nuclear weapons should never, ever be used again. The experience that my heart went through was just… 

Later on, I returned to my convoy and we found out that the atomic bomb had been dropped on August 6th. We had gone through the city just 36 hours after it. So I avoided direct impact, but of course, the radiation took its toll on my body, and I have this condition called pulmonary emphysema—I lose my breath quite easily now. The doctor tells me that it’s probably due to the effects of radiation poisoning...


atomic bomb Hiroshima (city) Hiroshima Prefecture Japan World War II

Date: June 17, 2008

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Yoko Nishimura

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Henry Eiichi Suto was born on February 5, 1928 in Minot, North Dakota to Issei parents. After the death of his father and younger sister, his mother returned to Japan with Henry and his brother. Henry was 7 years old and since he knew little Japanese, he worked hard to learn and try to fit in with his classmates. When he was approached by his teacher to sign up for the Japanese Army at the age of 17, he accepted—knowing he wouldn’t be able to afford to go to college. After basic training, he was 1 of 34 selected to train under a special unit, which he later found out was a “suicide” unit to man a one-man torpedo boat. He was in this unit when Hiroshima was bombed and was one of the first soldiers to arrive with aid, thirty-six hours after the bombing.

When the war ended, he returned to the United States and lived with an uncle after his mother passed away. He enrolled in Belmont High School, but 3 months later was drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in the Korean War. He was trained to become an interpreter and was taught the Korean language at Camp Palmer. He was to go to the front lines in Korea to interrogate, but while on their stopover in Japan, he was asked to stay to serve as an interpreter there instead.

He returned to the U.S. after being discharged from the army and went to Los Angeles City College where he majored in foreign trade. He found a job at the Otagiri Company and worked there till his retirement in 1993.

He passed away on October 17, 2008 at the age of 80. (January 30, 2009)

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