Published on Saturday, August 5, 2000 in The Japan Times
A-Bomb Survivor Tells Of Torments, Appeals For Peace
A survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima this week told of the torments she suffered as a result of the bomb and issued an appeal for peace ahead of the 55th anniversary of the attack Sunday.

Seiko Ikeda, executive vice president of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan how she survived the attack by the "devil's weapon" and called for world peace.

The atomic bomb attack ultimately claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people, the vast majority of whom were civilians.

Ikeda, who suffered serious burns after the bomb hit, said she can remember the scene 55 years ago "more clearly than a dream she had this morning." She was 12 years old and 1.5 km from ground zero.

"No artist could correctly depict the color of blood and the victims' screams seen and heard under the mushroom cloud," she said, adding that the city of Hiroshima, with its population of 350,000, was instantly reduced to ashes and that bodies were piled up in the city "like roasted fish."

Ikeda received medical treatment at the time and was reunited with her father later on Aug. 6. But she hovered between life and death immediately after the bombing -- her skin had peeled off and she suffered symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea and high fever.

Even after her condition improved, Ikeda suffered mental agonies over her disfigured face, which had become covered with thick scars, and she thought about committing suicide.

But with support from her family, she gained the strength to live and underwent as many as 15 operations to restructure her face.

"Even today, people die from the aftereffects of the atomic bombing. The threat of death always haunts me," said Ikeda, who is now a grandmother of five children, none of whom suffered any birth defects.

Ikeda said she does not hate the United States for dropping the bomb but rather detests war, which she says destroys humanity. As a Japanese, she said, she feels remorse for the pains inflicted by Japan on other people of Asia before and during the war.

Ikeda, who has been engaged in peace activities for about 45 years, has traveled overseas to spread her peace message. Among the countries she has visited are the U.S., China, India and Pakistan, all of which possess nuclear weapons.

She said victims of radiation exposure can be found not only in Hiroshima and Nagasaki but elsewhere, such as the former Soviet nuclear test site Semipalatinsk in Kazakstan. She calls for global action to bring about peace.

Copyright 2000 The Japan Times