ÂŠ 2013 Hiromi Suzumura
All rights reserved by Hiromi Suzumura No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission. Digital edition published by The Asahi Shimbun 5-3-2 Tsukiji, Chuo Ward, Tokyo 104-8011, Japan
Dedicated to the Atomic Bomb Victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki
"Atomic Bomb Victims on Ninoshima -- Diary of a Young Surgeon," written by Mitsuru SUZUMURA, was originally published in 1986 in Japanese. His son, Hiromi SUZUMURA, has translated it into English.
Ninoshima Island is in the Seto Inland Sea, about three kilometers south of Hiroshima Port. The island served as a quarantine center for the
Imperial Japanese Army from 1895 until the end ofWorld War II. After the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the quarantine center on the island was used as an emergency field hospital to treat victims of the bombing.
Chapter One 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Explosion Purpura Death of a Surgeon Morbid Anatomy The Second Bomb on Nagasaki
5 13 22 30 38
Chapter Two 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.
War Defeat A Diseased Comrade Medical Home Visit Epidemic Prevention Peach Color RoofTile Otagawa River Goodbye Hiroshima
47 55 64 73 82 90 98
For “Diary of a Young Surgeon”
Illustrations by the Author (Positions ofillustrations may be rearranged)
Introduction Upon the English release of“Atomic Bomb Victims on Ninoshima -- Diary ofa Young Surgeon” by Hiromi Suzumura
In my memories of my junior high school days, my father, the author of this book, used to disappear at the beginning ofAugust every year and did not come back home for few days. My mother did not talk too much about his absence from home. “Almost 13 years after the war, I have lived, trying to forget what I have experienced in Hiroshima,” he writes in the preface of this book. He finally published this book on December 15, 1986, putting down his own experiences and his thoughts, writing, “Human beings are apt to commit the same mistake when they forget it.” In this way, he kept this thought within his mind and frequented Hiroshima not only to reminisce about the past but also to meet people and to collect information. He lived his life with clear determination to publish this book. When it was published, I was engaged in a busy professional life in a private company. He often said to me, “I would be happy if you translated my book into English or French when you have more time in the future.” He passed away in March 1989. In August 2009, having retired from my professional life, I finally visited Hiroshima with his last work in my hand. Ninoshima Island, viewed
My father, Mitsuru Suzumura. This photo was taken in around 1 943, when he went to the war front after graduating university.
from Ujina port, was unexpectedly dead ahead. The next morning, after having arrived on the island, I stood on the beach at a quarter past eight, where he saw the explosion 55 years ago. The weather was fine but humid as on the morning he describes at the start of this book. But no bombs exploded. Then I retraced his footsteps around the city of Hiroshima. I could find some places where the atmosphere depicted in his book still remained. I am satisfied to have felt such atmosphere, which helped me to understand his work better. When he took up his pen to write this book, my father, who was a young intern medical officer in Hiroshima, as well as working as a practicing doctor and industrial physician, had became active after the war in creating haiku and oil paintings. Such a background likely influences his work; not only the scientific descriptions a physician would use are present, but also the lyrical realism which reflects a haiku poet and a painter are there in his writing. Even in the midst of the unprecedented disaster in human history that was Hiroshima, he writes his text with a cool touch, somehow possibly not being swept away by passion. I felt it a foolhardy attempt for me, as a non-native, to translate his work into English. However, as my translation work continued, I have been thrilled by the “magical sense” that came as I replaced the Japanese text with English. I believe that this “magical sense” allowed me to continue the exhaustive work of translation. It has been my principal motivation that the book may be read by non-Japanese speakers. On one occasion, I asked my father to compare the war destruction in Europe and Japan. He said, “Yes, heavy air raids killed more people in Europe than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the fundamental difference between the two cases is that the atomic bomb still today causes victims to suffer from not only radiation damage and the fear of the death in their lifetime but also from the fear of its heredity in their children.” I remember his detached tone in which he talked to his sons. Needless to say, nuclear power constantly raises various issues today on our planet that could determine its future. I believe that we still live in a world where the experience of the atomic bomb cannot be trivialized as a mere personal historical event but should be legitimized as universal issue for our planet. I hope readers may agree that such experience will not end as an old local story in Hiroshima and Nagasaki but will be continuously and widely talked about…until they become “real ancient history.”
At the end of my remarks, I extend the most warm thanks to Mr. Mungo Dobble, a young Canadian writer who helped greatly to verify if my English text was understandable to English-speaking readers.
In August 2009, I, Hiromi Suzumura, visited Ninoshima Island. I stood on the same beach at quarter past eight where my father saw the explosion 55 years ago. The weather was fine but humid as on the morning he describes at the start of this book. But no bombs exploded.
Preface On August 6, 1945, on Hiroshima City, and only two days later on Nagasaki City, atomic bombs were dropped. I, the writer, was on Ninoshima Island, three kiromaters south from Hiroshima City. I saw the burst with my own eyes and was knocked down by the fire wind of the blast a few seconds later. From that moment on, I spent about a month running about the city engaged in rescues and epidemic prevention. At the beginning of September, released from military obligation, I returned to my surgical post at the Railroad Hospital in Nagoya. However, I came down suddenly with a high fever. The fever lasted for consecutive days at 40 to 42 degrees. I totally thought I was affected by the atomic-bomb disease, which I observed in Hiroshima and gave up surviving. Nevertheless, I was able to recover from the fever in about two months time. Following this, I served in the clinic of the National Railroad Plant in Nagoya, and at the Tuberculosis Clinic in Usu, Hokkaido, until later retiring from the National Railroad. I spent the next six years as a private practitioner in Teradomari, in Niigata Prefecture, a small town near my hometown. In 1957, I returned to the medical faculty of Nagoya University, my alma mater. For almost thirteen years after the war, I worked very hard and tried not to remember what I had seen and heard in Hiroshima. Today, fortunately my three sons have grown up in a satisfactory way and I have eight grandchildren. People who were in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during war time are reluctant to talk about their experiences. And yet they donâ€™t deny they have a wish to be heard by someone. Over forty years after that day, they have accumulated the emptiness that comes with the fact that no talk could lead to a correct understanding of what really happened and finally realized that there was no alternative but to shut their mouths. However, it has happened to me that I, even with a person I had just met for the first time, have fallen into a long conversation when we recognized we had been in the same city at that time. It has happened to me several times in the forty years after the war. Many who shared the same experiences are getting on in their old age and will vanish by and by. 9
When we forget our history, we are apt to make the same mistake
It is far beyond my capacity to control what will happen to our children and grandchildren after I fade away from the world. It will be the result of the choices taken by their generation. Nevertheless I cannot help but talk about my experience to my beloved children and grandchildren, and so I decided to take up my pen.
written by Mitsuru SUZUMURA
This photo was taken around 1 986, when he was finishing this book.
Chapter One 1. Explosion August 6th1945, in the morning, on a small empty on the southern coast of Ninoshima Island, around 3 kilometers from Ujina Port, Hiroshima City, around 20 soldiers have gathered. They look like ordinary young men, hard to tell apart from dock workers or sailors, except that they wear khaki short sleeve shirts and shorts, lapel badges showing soldier ranks, and stuck on the end of a safety-pin have a piece of cloth with the symbol of the army’s troop ship sewn on it. A fine green line added to the edge of their badges of rank signifies that they belong to a special troop composed of noncommissioned officers and soldiers from the sanitation department. World War II is already about to end. The war situation around Japan shows desperate aspects everywhere. Japanese politicians, nevertheless, are trying to continue the hopeless war by exhausting any means. The result of the war is clear to everyone’s eyes. Just one week before, a rumor went around through a signal corps petty officer that Japan had proposed its surrender to the Allied forces through the meditation of the Soviet Union, with whom Japan signed the Treaty of Mutual Nonaggression. Everybody in the unit came to know it. Akikofuji, an earthenware mortar type mountain, 278 meters high in the middle of the island, can be seen from everywhere in Hiroshima. The first quarantine station set up in Japan is located on the vast ground of the southern slope of the mountain. It was set up originally to prevent soldiers from bringing the epidemics back into in the country when they came back from the fronts abroad. It has been under the control of the Army and has functioned for a long time since Japan-Sino War and JapanRusso War. As the war becomes worse, the number of vessels coming back from abroad has decreased drastically. Southern origin A type paratyphoid virus has begun to spread among the vessel corps operating along the sea line of the archipelago. In June 1945, four quarantine squads are newly formed involving existing experts who conduct bacteria tests in the quarantine and the quarantine team from vessel corps. They operate independently. On the Island, No.3 and No.4 squad are stationed. On that morning, No.4 quarantine squad members led by Lieutenant Muramoto have just gathered in a small open space on the seashore of the Island and are communicating the information for the day’s duties, quickly coordinating among themselves. Then the morning assembly is to start. The officer on duty this day is Toru Fujimura, a non-commissioned 12
officer of the sanitary division. He is waiting, sweated through, though it doesn’t take long for the members to complete their necessary communications. It is a hot morning. Sergeant Major Kasuya, stands at the right edge of the line of the soldiers, reports to Fujimura that everything is in order and gives a salute. Upon receipt of his salute, Fujimura is about to call Lieutenant Muramoto to his office nearby and he takes his first step forward to do so. Just at that moment, he sees a colossal pillar of fire, larger than anything he has ever seen in his life, towering over the right slope of Mt. Akikofuji. The pillar of fire turns into a huge oval fireball and spreads right and left, then immediately turns into a grayish cloud. From every part of the cloud, gleaming in various colors, many small clouds are born one after another, and then grow instantly into a massive bank of cloud, dominating the sky. Above in the sky, a faint scarlet colored ring of light is born. It expands and flickers away in the open sky, like a wake on a still water surface produced by a small pebble thrown in. One…two…when he counts three, the firstborn ring reaches above his head. Dhaan! a dull sound thunders. A hot air passees over with the noise of kicking up sand. As soon as they feel the heat, the men automatically drop down flat on the earth. “ Evacuation!” Fujimura bolts. Others follow him. They hurry into the cave, being dug behind the office. “ Don’t go in too far. The cave may not resist if there’s an induced explosion,” Fujimura warns. He wonders if the ammunition dump, supposedly located on the northern slope ofAkikofuji has been blown up. However, he also thinks that he should have felt more rumbling of earth if the island’s ammo dump had exploded. Soldiers who have evacuated into the bottom of the cave are hugging the ground toward the exit and gather around Fujimura, sitting there. No sound is heard. In front of the cave, there are single story wooden offices. Their whole construction is faintly covered with dust. A transom window of the north-facing room has been blown out. Next to that room, separated by the corridor, there is another office which Lieutenant Muramoto, their commander, should be in. No sound is heard from his office either. Silent moments pass for some minutes. A soldier appears at the corner of the office building, running toward the cave, calling Fujimura. He is the orderly man from the head office. “ An air raid has attacked the city. Enormous damage has been reported. A rescue squad should be ready immediately for the operation. The 13
departure timing is to be advised later.“ “ You’ve heard. Rescue squad, Prepare yourselves immediately for the rescue operation. Others, follow me.” So crying, Fujimura begins to rush. Almost all major cities in Japan have previously been violently attacked by air-raids, which have caused tremendous damage to the country. However, Hiroshima, a traditional military hub from the old days, has curiously had no air-raid-like attack. It is, nevertheless, foreseen that a rescue squad is to dispatch from the island to Hiroshima if a major air-raid attacks the city. The location to set up the infirmary is more or less designated. The members of the squad, Fujimura, and 13 non-commissioned officers and soldiers, are also nominated. The equipment is also stored in one of the rooms in the office building. The 13 members of the rescue squad, completing the necessary preparation, put the equipment in a small landing boat called “Kohatsu”, and wait for the departure order. The morning lull, unique to the Seto Inland Sea, is about over. It’s slightly windy but the scorching sunshine of mid-summer is burning the 13 young men. The grayish gigantic bank of cloud, soaring in the sky, beyond Akikofuji, has been growing further in its volume for some time. Inky black smoke spouts out at random from the surface of the bank of cloud, which indicates that large scale fires are developing under it . The bank is slowly deforming toward the west. There is no way to look under the cloud. “ It must be raining hard under the cloud. You will get instantly inky black. Be sure we have the portable tent.” “ Yes sir, we have enough of them,” One of the soldiers confirms to Fujimura. Fujimura remembers that he encountered such heavy rain, maybe around Nada city, on the way from Ashiya for the air raid rescue in Suma . The portable tent they have is a square one, 2 meters by 2 meters, with 20cm metal eyelets, on two of its edges and strings on the other two edges so that it may serve for personal rain apparel, or as a tent for a group by knotting strings and metal eyelets in a different way. Fortunately Fujimura and his squad have not been drenched by the rain in Hiroshima. It was horrific rain, completely different from any that he knew. “ Carry a gas mask,” a new order comes. Without knowing what is happening, the squad returns to their barracks. The order also says: “ Officer Fujimura, Lieutenant Muramoto is calling you. He is at the treatment center.” A boy, 15 to 16 years of age, is sitting with his upper body naked on the operation bed. 14
Lieutenant Muramoto gives a short glance at Fujimura and keeps on staring at boy’s neck. “ Fuji, what do you make of this?” He asks Fujimura. The boy is suffering from first degree burn injuries on his right lower arm, from right of his head to shoulder, right upper arm, right side of his chest and dorsal. It looks more like a strong sunburn than a fire injury. Fujimura recognizes the mother accompanying the boy. She gets along well with everybody in the sanitary station and often shows up here herself. She used to bring patients she knew to the treatment center on Fujimura's duty days and leave watermelons on the veranda of the officers' barrack as a sign of gratitude. They call her “Aunt Watermelon”. “ It’s a nice surprise, Aunt Water Melon has a such nice son.” “ Thank you. His dad is requisitioned and now serving in Kure. He is the only one I can rely on. Kindly take care of him well.” So she is smiling. It was the space between cheek and neck that Muramoto was staring at. Three creases possibly produced by twisting the neck are observable The skin hidden by the creases remains a thinly pure white. “ It looks like sunburn, but burned instantaneously. Maybe it’s a heat ray, what do you think?” “ You’ve experienced several air raids. Have you ever seen such an injury?” “ No, never. It’s the first time.” The burn injury on his shoulder is evaluated as second degree. The first aid-men confirming the nod yes of Muramoto, apply mercurochrome on that part and zinc oxide oil on the other areas. The right half of the upper body turns pure white and the part where mercurochrome is applied turns pink. The boy was rowing a boat on the strait between Ujina port and Ninoshima, and seemed to be burned by the same fire Fujimura and the others have seen. He tumbled into his home without looking back and was brought to Muramoto’s office through a narrow mountain crossing on the Island. Fujimura runs back to the pier, saying “ Hurry up” in his mind without knowing why. If the boy who was out on the straits has been inflicted with such a burn injury, wherever the fireball was produced, people nearby should be in an incredible situation. When he reaches the pier, another male orderly rushes in as if he’s chasing after Fujimura. “ Our unit should receive, by order, about 600 severe patients. Fujimura non commissioned officer, is nominated as a head of the medical ward for the incoming patients. Open the medical ward in the sanitary center immediately and take command of your rescue squad.” 15
The patients should now be at Ushina. Around thirty minutes are left before they arrive here....... Discharging all the equipment from the boat, running to the sanitary center dead ahead, opening its every door; doors that have beenclosed for over a month. A rfesh breeze comes through. Fujimura, standing at the entrance of the large premises, watches the smart movements of soldiers preparing the rescue ward. About a month ago, a medium-sized transport ship arrived at the island. Fujimura then had his first experience of quarantine inspection at Ninoshima Island, having heard many times in the past of the unique operation here. Once the transport ship has cast its anchor in the calm cove in front of the sanitary station, the soldiers barged onto the sanitary pier and lined up in the open space between the main office and the sanitary station. The first step soldiers put in their home country after returning from fighting abroad is on the white sand here. They are guided to the station in groups of 10, stand naked on the drain boards, linedup on the spacious floor, and put their equipment and clothes in the red and the white sacks prepared in front of them respectively. These sacks are carried by the moving basket running along side of the floor grates and are put in the big sanitary machines lined-up along the wall. The soldiers are then guided to the bathroom, soaked in a sanitary bath of corrosive sublimate for a few minutes, and then lounge in a the large communal bathtub and wash out the grime of the war field. After the bath, the men receive a piece of loincloth just covering their genitals and line up for an inspection in the large room. Army medics, quarantine officers, inspect their faces and upper bodies.Then at the word of command, very unique here, â€œLoincloth, to the right!, they receive the venereal disease check. They squat, then, down on all fours. Direct feces sampling is carried out. End of quarantine. Soldiers can relax now in the big room, wearing a bathrobe with the design unique to the quarantine station, and are served hot sweet adzuki bean soup by young women of Ninoshima Island. In the meantime, the disinfection of their equipment is completed. Soldiers are transported to Hiroshima city by another boat and enjoy there the first evening in their homeland. However, the situation can get more serious if a possibly infected soldier is found during the quarantine inspection. Anyone suspected of being infected is immediately isolated in the quarantine station hospital and all others in the same boat are stuck in the barrack of the island for 10 to 14 days. The quarantine station has to feed and house over one thousand 16
soldiers for such periods. The island is always equipped with enough to handle such cases. As the war situation gets more and more severe, the regional head quarters in Hiroshima has taken various measures, assuming that the enemy will land on Shikoku Island (facing the Pacific Ocean). One of the measures is to use Ninoshima Island as a logistic hospital. A big basement is under construction by the specialists. Stockpiling of sanitary materials and equipment is also under way. It is, therefore, natural that the vessel control headquarters at Ujina Port has selected Ninoshima Island as an immediate receiving facility for a large number of victims from the air-raid. Many drain boards are lined-up on the spacious floor of the sanitary station in order to execute the first stage of inspection. The hygiene products for immediate use and some medicines are expeditiously arranged. Stationery is also put on the table. The number of patients is first reported to be 600, then increases to 1500 and then 3000. From the reception desk at the front gate of the sanitary station, Fujimura sees the hospital at the right edge and the lined huts to the left on the slope covered by the pine trees. Soldiers are running right to left, and report to Fujimura continuously. “Number xx medical ward has been completed. The head is the second lieutenant YY.” “Number zz medical ward has been completed. The head is the noncommissioned officer WW.” The head of the field hospital or logistic hospital is supposed to, first, receive the patients, next, give them expedient treatment, see how it works, and then send them to the ward where the head staff person is the best for their particular treatments. Such job is normally entrusted to an experienced doctor who can properly execute various expedient treatments and knows well the competence of the head of each ward. Such job is beyond the capacity of a mere non-commissioned officer. If this job would have been for 600 patients as initially reported, Fujimura could have managed such a job. But it will be far beyond his capacity if the number increases to 3000. Fujimura anticipated that Adjutant Captain Amano or Lieutenant Muramoto would take on such responsibility and that he would be a head of one of the wards, which is the ordinary rule. However the actual situation has now developed far beyond such existing rules. For some time now, the sounds of coastal vessels have been drifting up. They are familiar sounds from the boats circulating in the bay. This morning, however, the sound of a hot bulb engine with its typical bursting resonance comes up from every direction of the sea surrounding this island. 17
It seems that vessels are rushing to Ujina port at their full throttle from every corners of the bay of Hiroshima. The 13 military men, stood on the shore, after having prepared for the reception of the patients at the ward have now a clear image that a great number of vessels are rallying behind Mt. Akikofuji , the direction of Ujina port at Hiroshima. After a while, they hear the growing sound of the engines closing in beyond the eastern side of the island. They become convinced that many vessels, at their full speed, are rushing toward the seashore in front of them, via the eastern edge of the island turning from the north. Now some vessels, turning from the tip of the eastern cap, appear, scrambling to the pier of the sanitary station, splitting the waves. The first four vessels arrive at the pier. A glaring in black, a nonsterish mass heaps up on the deck. It moves onto the pier, then moves toward Fujimura and his team, like a mass of heavy oil, an inky black mass, exposed to the summer sunshine. It is a mass of people, nearly naked, wholly burned beyond recognition, wholly swollen up. Medics around Fujimura rush towards the charred crowd. The charred flow moves in a lump in a wide row when it reaches the open space from the pier. Their eyelids and lips are swollen up in black; teardrops and drool are tinted with fresh blood. The victims all look up at the sky, apparently due to the pain of their swollen necks. They also droop their arms down from the elbow, stretching their upper arms on either side. The skins between their forearms and underarms are sorely burned, denuded, and sag down like bloody rags. A victim loses his balance, falling down over a neighbor, who holds his arm. Charred up skins falling off from both victims. Blood gushes out. Many fall down before reaching the reception. Medics rush to the victims and bring them to the ward. Many of them die in pain. Fujimura instructs his medics, coming to assist , to note on a slip of paper at least the name, the age, and the address of victims before they die and put it on any part on the victimsâ€™ bodies. But more die before such action. The hot bulb engines from numbers of vessels racing desperately to the pier are roaring like a hell, where woeful cries of the victims faltering around in unbearable pain are almost drowned out. The dreadful scene continues. Victims are approaching toward Fujimura, the only one in the white coat, taking each wobbly step with their feet swollen up by edema. Those who get near Fujimura fall down, lay down on their faces, and collapse downward. Medics around him carry victims on their backs, get their arms them around and put them on the stretchers. 18
A medic helps a victim to stand up. The part of charred skin touched by his hand peels off like stretching a thin shirt. Blood gushes out. Medic releases his hand in surprise. Victim flops down like a big wet rag, then stops breathing. The medics, however, rapidly get the knack of handling the victims and carry them one by one onto the drain boards spread in the spacious sanitary station. What in the world has happened!They had absolutely no margin in their minds to think about it. The only thing that occupied their minds was to just accommodate at least places to lay down for the black charred people, on the verge of death, pouring in in waves. “ Soldier, I’ve got a terrible sore throat. Give me water, please.” Many say so. The eyes of medics ask Fujimura, “ Can I give them water?” Fujimura nods silently “ Yes, you can.” It is believed in these days that giving water to people in their last throes accelerate death. Fujimura i cautiously instructs the medics to move around busily. “ Quiet patients are at risk to die first. Attention: Let noisy patients wait.” Despite this, they are obliged to turn to the patients who complain about their pains the most clamorously. “Noisy” patients become in the end “Quiet” patients and die one by one. Sharp calls from medics come from every corner of the vast disinfecting station; “Surgeon!” Each time Fujimura moves on towards the call and confirms the death of the patient, giving a short look at the clinical record scribbled down in pencil on the coarse paper, put behind the head of the victim. He looks at his wristwatch and instructs the medic to write down the time on the clinical record paper. “ Burn injury of the third degree on whole body. Time of the death x hours/x minutes You’ve got the name of the patient, haven’t you?” So he confirms with his medic and motions him towards the exit of the quarantine station, open to the seashore, from where a cool breeze is coming in. The dead bodies carried out from the station have been laid down in lines in the shadowed area of the building. As time goes by, however, the lines of the dead spread out into the sunny space of the early afternoon, then approaching. An officer comes into the station with around 20 stalwart soldiers. He is the antiaircraft artillery platoon leader on the mountain, and acquainted with Fujimura and the others. “It’s really awful here. Listen, your skipper has ordered us not to 19
shoot an enemy even if they come over. We are jobless now. Can we assist you?” He doesn’t show his usual smile. “ Thanks. Could you bring the patients, from those who are still noisy, to the hospital ?“ “ OK, Hey guys, hop toit !” At the same time, many boy soldiers arrive and begin to transport the victims waiting in the open space one by one into the quarantine station. Their base is located over the small cape to the west of the Station. They are the members of the suicide corps, training every day on the small one man boat. Fujimura visits these corps for their medical check twice a week. They are mostly 14-15 years old. In the evening another corps of boy soldiers from the navy joins from Edajima Island. Thanks to their contributions, the capacity of the transportation in the island is at last, assured. “A-ge, Yoisho.” “Lift up. Alley oop.” Their calls are heard here and there on the island throughout the night.
2. Purpura It is already past 2 pm. Victims with similar symptoms continue to arrive at the pier, though not at the same frequency as in the beginning. Fujimura’s ward has already become filled beyond capacity with victims within the first 30 minutes of the first arrival and has lost the capability to receive anyone else. Those victims still arriving at the piers are guided toward the disinfection station. Medics register their names and other personal information, then , one by one, they are brought to the medical wards behind the pine trees. Those who have died already in the boat are abandoned on the beach near the disinfection station. Once it has overflown with victims waiting for treatment, the open space between the administration building and the disinfection station is left oddly quiet for a while; no injured fall down; no medics run around. Sergeant major Kasuya approaches Fujimura and says in a low voice, “ Please come with me.” Fujimura feels something emphatic in his voice. In front of the administration building he recognizes a tall lieutenant colonel. Both his eyes are blinded by his blood flowing out from his head. A corporal firmly upholding the left arm of the tall lieutenant colonel, says to Fujimura, “Surgeon, this person is an exceptional person, though I can’t disclose his name to you. Kindly let us see the commanding officer. I will tell him everything there.” The corporal, very bright looking, shows a desperate look in his face. “ OK, understood. Sergeant major Kasuya, guide them to the administration office.” So instructs Fujimura. Just as he’s leaving the place, the lieutenant colonel, with his other arm supported by Kasuya, , stops, getting his arms free from two men, as if something has just struck him, turns his blinded eyes towards Fujimura, and makes a deep bow of respect to him. “Please take care of yourself,” Fujimura calls to him, knowing that his salute is not visible to the man. It is his first and last experience in his military life to receive such respect as a doctor from his superiors. A first lieutenant speaks to Fujimura while he lets his platoon of boy soldiers take a short rest under a shaded area beside the administration 21
office. He is the instructor of that party. “What hell has happened.” Bottling up such feelings, they exchange few words. Then he walks away. From the sanitary station to the ward behind the pine trees, the march of the boy soldiers continues endlessly like that of ants. Once it stops for any reason, the open space becomes quickly flooded over by the moribund victims. Soon after 3 PM, Fujimura gets the order. “You are the head of the 13th medical wards.” He is told that apparently no one will take over his post,though he has to carry out a transfer procedure to his successor for the reception ward. The same order has been given to Superior Private YoshidaOther noncoms also receive their respective orders. The team including Fujimura in the reception ward is broken apart by this order. They do not know who will replace the team. It is forbidden in the army at that time to ask to know anything further than the orders given. One has to react immediately to the order. On the way to the 13th ward barracks, with Superior Private Yoshida, Fujimura is convinced that the administration office has abandoned the function of the reception ward. Later, Second Lieutenant Egami, in the same unit, tells him of the situation after their departure from the reception ward. No one knows the exact number, but thousands of victims transferred there toward the evening were left abandoned in the open space in front of the sanitary station and had to spend the whole night there without any medical care. The Second Lieutenant, with no support from either noncoms or medics, struggled the whole night to take care of the heavily injured victims; mainly students of female volunteer corps gathered on the open space in front of the ward, thanks to the help of housewives belonging to the women’s association of neighboring islands. The building designated as the 13th medical ward is one of the quarantine center huts; long, flat, rugged structured buildings. There are two large boarded rooms, equivalent to two school classrooms, at both west and east ends. There are also four small rooms across the short corridor in the middle of the building. Usually soldiers bunk on the floor boards in the large rooms at the both ends. These four rooms are used for administration or as the living quarter of non-coms. The structures of the huts are not much different from each other. When Fujimura and his team arrive at the 13th wards, around 150 patients have laid down on the boards of the room of the east end and around 50 are in the room at the west end. Boy soldiers continuously bring patients. 22
Fujimura looks around and notes that one third of them are wholly burned black, and others are heavily burned, and lacerated or stabbed by broken pieces of glass. Fujimura’s team, in charge of the 13th ward is composed of two noncoms from the veterinary section; Medic Superior Private Yoshida, and two young typists from the administration office; a total of 6 persons. Super Private Yoshida is the only medic and the others are kind of nonprofessionals. “ Super Private Yoshida shall take care, alone, of the patients in the east end and decide for yourself which mild injuries to treat. You two noncoms shall help Fujimura. Our two typists shall attend the patients.” So Fujimura gives the orders to his people. Who brought them here? Fujimura finds the leather slippers he wears for daily use at the clinic of the administration office. He puts them on, taking off his moist socks. Soon he feels itchy on both feet and finds many fleas biting into his feet and sucking frantically his blood. “ Oh, it’s awful. Bring a disinfectant spray.” The other 5 members also find lots of fleas on their feet, take off their socks and sweep them away. The odor of cresol spreads out in the room where the smell of blood and burned skins of patients overflows. Fujimura has no idea if the cresol will keep such numbers of fleas away. Anyway, no other idea comes up in his mind. “ Ah, what a pleasant odor!” Suddenly the beautiful voice of a young woman rings out from the north-west corner of the room. He looks toward the voice but he cannot identify at all whose voice it was. He only sees many victims wholly burned black, nearly impossible to identify whether man or woman, laid down on the floorboard. It occurs to him that a voice can remain young and beautiful even if she has turned into such a shape. A non-com who had gone to collect medicine and hygiene materials returns with one big wooden box with full of gauze, bandages, etc., and another wooden box of medicine. “There are no medical instruments available. They’ve all been taken out. They say that we should manage with those in our own rucksacks ” Every kind of material is in shortage all over the country. They will have to do their best with those available on the spot. A washbowl is filled with weakened rivanol and another washbowl with cresol. One of the non-coms has skillfully made up a long pair of tweezers from a stalk of bamboo. Fujimura starts treatment with patients who have been wholly burned, laid down in the north-east corner of the room. They are the group with the 23
least hope to survive. The Army’s traditional treatment is to apply mercurochrome on the damaged skin area and to plaster zinc oil on the other burned area. He thinks that such treatment would lead a patient to die before he finishes plastering zinc oil on the whole area. Fujimura moistens a large piece of gauze with rivanol and applies it on the burned area, wrinkling up the gauze. Two years ago he received basic surgical training for 6 months at his university; where before graduation they were rigidly cautioned not to touch the affected area with bare hands. He, however, has not recognized at all that he just broke such caution. He washes the affected area with gauze dipped in washbowl filled with cresol, pulls exfoliated black skin off, then washes his hands and covers the affected area with rivanol gauze. He conducts such procedure with his bare hands spontaneously. The cresol in the washbowl immediately turns a dirty reddish black and has to be replaced repeatedly. The Sergeant from the veterinary section hands rivanol gauze to Fujimura using his long tweezers made out of bamboo stalk. The other corporal from the veterinary section, bandages as instructed by Fujimura. The white bandage becomes stained yellow from rivanol and the color of burned skin oozing out together with rivanol. After the experience of giving this kind of treatment to several patients, the two veterinary section non-coms are now able to carry out the treatment as Fujimura has instructed them, passing the gauze with rivanol to him, and bandaging, not too tight, not too loose, so that injured area may be aired properly. Superior Private Yoshida quickly gets the hang of Fujimura’s method. Several patients are judged by him as mild cases injured by pieces of glass scattered by blast wind. He carefully washes injured areas, patiently removes pieces of glass , disinfects the wound area, and finishes his treatment with a snug-fitting bandage. His patients, their spirits raised up help attend to others around them. He, in the meantime, goes around to see other patients, not yet cared by Fujimura and listens to their pleas, encouraging them and administering them treatment authorized by medics. Surgeon.” Fujimura urges himself towards the voice, low but sharp, ofYoshida, confirms the death of the injured person on whom he is looking down at, then dictates his remarks in the clinical diary. The dead person is carried out of the patient’s room by Yoshida and the two veterinary section non-coms and is left on the sandy soil between the wards. Then it is soon carried away by boy soldiers. Although it has taken a fairly long time to put the inside of the medical ward in a certain type of order, it is still in an extreme mess. Most patients are so severely injured that nobody has ever seen 24
anything like it before. Unlike the situation in other disasters where some are injured and others are left able to attend them, this time no one has escaped injury. h Thus, the two female typists, start working in a different field. “I am thirsty. Mr. Soldier, give me water.” This is the most frequent plea from patients. There are not so many who complain of regional pain or suffering. It is obviously of no use to ask about it. They would only reply “It’s painful and I’m suffering everywhere!” The two typists are circulating among those patients, taking care of them in a gentle manner. They will continue to work in such way until the next morning without rest. Yoshida, who had gone to take care of the patients in the room of east end, comes back with two girls and two boys. “A big guy next to them has become excited without any reason at all. They got quite scared.” Yoshida let them rest, after receiving Fujimura’s permission,on a small floorboard spared for a pathway. Two girls are both suffering from leg injuries. After having a short rest, they begin to assist the two typists and attend to patients, hobbling on their legs. The two young women look beautiful. Fujimura and his team appreciate their assistances, calling the taller one "Miss Nagai," and the smaller, slightly chubby one, “Miss Yokoi"... The two boys are young brothers of Miss Yokoi and are elementary school pupils. Fujimura uses the boxes which carried medicine and hygiene materials as a desk and chair in the corridor. Occasionally he has a vacant moment, blank minded, sitting on the box, waiting for his next patients. When his eyes happen by chance to meet those of two girls, together or one by one, they each give him a gentle smile as if they too waited for such a moment. Their sweet smiles raise the fighting spirit in his mind and body which shrunk back several times. The condition of most patients is hopeless, with no chance of survival. Facing these patients he has not yet gained enough experience to act casually, bottling up such deadly feelings. The two girls watch Fujimura anxiously as he sits on the wooden box, while waiting for his next patients, resting himself briefly. When they catch his eyes by chance, they exchange smiles with him. The two girls seem to try to encourage him; as if by common consent they had consulted each other preliminarily. Young Fujimura is really encouraged by the two girls many times. Such is also the case with the non commissioned officers, who seem 25
pleased to let the girls join the medical team, take care of them and to have their assistance for nursing. Some time after sunset, Sergeant Kasuya comes back to the medical ward with other soldiers on duty to deliver frozen mandarin oranges in a two-wheeled cart. It’s a big wooden fisherman’s box full of mandarin oranges and crushed ice. It seems they have been preserved under the soil on an island nearby. The amount is more than enough, with some left over after having distributed them to all the patients. A happy atmosphere spontaneously prevails in the whole ward. Even dying patients, almost immobilized, struggle to sip the sweet and somewhat bitter juice of the stale mandarin oranges. “ The Lieutenant colonel we met earlier, it is said that he is from imperial family, from Korean royal family and apparently seriously injured.” So Kasuya whispers to Fujimura. “ Aha, it’s surprising to know such a person was in Hiroshima city. He’s got a quite a starchy image.” Fujimura replied modestly, remembering the tall Lieutenant Colonel who gave him a bow, turning his eyes blinded by fresh blood flowing down from his forehead. “Could be late,but I will bring rice balls later.” So Kasuya whispers to him and disappears in the shadow of dusk. He looks exhausted. On the beach near the shoreline, great numbers of dead bodies are being burned. As evening comes down, the fire is apparently extinguished so as not to show a target to enemy aircraft. However, the smell of burning corpses densely hangs over the whole island in the hot humid evening calm, typical to the Seto Inland Sea. The long afterglow of the summer sunset is fading out. The island is being enveloped in a gathering gloom. Candles are delivered to each ward and are lighted. For the ward Fujimura is in charge of, big rooms at the east and west end have one candle each. Each of three working groups has one candle to facilitate their movements in the ward. From the window of his ward, Fujimura sees candlelight in the neighboring wards, waving in the evening dust. The chaos of agonized shrieks is calming down at last and a certain serenity begins to hover over the site. However, many people are dying, while there are few who can take care of them. “Age Yoisho, Lift up, Alley oop.” The calls of boy soldiers carrying dead bodies are heard ceaselessly in the open space between wards. 26
“ Surgeon, please come with me,” says Yoshida who is taking care of the east room, in a low voice. “Not so heavily injured. Is it anything contagious?” He asks Fujimura, moving a candlelight toward the dead body, still warm. Dark red spots of internal bleeding appear! wholly from face to head, seeming to quickly turn into purple. “Fever?” “ Not yet measured, but the patient asked for water earlier. I’d guess, from having touched the forehead, over 38 degrees.” Fujimura stands up, nodding, without a word. He recognizes that there are no means available right now to fight against any new situation even if it is judged as a sort of epidemic. Fujimura returns to the big room at the west end, putting aside his temptation to see other patients nearby, being lit by dim candle light, if they have the same internal spots. “ What is the disease name to be designated on the paper?” Yoshida, who follows Fujimura, asks him. “ Dengeki-yo,,,, purpura,, write it down so.” “ ‘Dengeki ‘comes from ‘Blitzkrieg’, doesn’t ’t it? How about Yo?” “ Yo” is the Japanese kanji for “appearance”, or “mister,” like “Mr.Yoshida”, Superior Private.” Yoshida gives a faint smile to Fujimura. Adolf Hitler, originator of the sudden attack, or “Blitzkrieg,” has just died this spring. After the news, many islands in the Pacific seized by the Japanese army are almost taken back by the US army. Their attack on the Japanese mainland is considered only a matter of time. The s ”Blitzkrieg”sudden attack, which lead to victories for Japan at the earlier stage of the war is today talked about as a bad joke. Fujimura suddenly remembers that he has seen the name of such a disease in a book entitled Practice of Internal Medicine, read frequently among surgeons and medics in the army. The clock shows it is about 9 PM. Kasuya, as promised, delivers rice balls. They are balls made from white rice, which is difficult to get, even in the army, considered comparatively well-off in its food supplies. A pickled plum is usually inside the rice ball, but the pits in these havebeen removed. Fujimura estimates that about 6000 patients have been received on this island form the beginning until 3PM. He and his team have heard the noise of boats for a long time since.. The number of patients would be far beyond his estimate. It wouldn’t be an easy job to deliver even only one piece of rice ball to each of them. But it turns out in reality the rice balls are delivered! Food is getting extremely scarce due to the long lasting war, though no deaths from starvation have been reported. It should be recognized, however, that almost all of the population must be close to starvation. 27
Even one piece of a rice ball, must be very precious . Although some patients are incapable of even holding them in their hands, again a happy atmosphere prevails in the whole ward. One rice ball and one piece of pickle are put on the wooden apple box for Fujimura. He has had nothing to eat since the morning. He has no appetite. When he nevertheless, forces himself to accept them and extends his hands to the food, he has lost any courage to touch it with. He finds his hands deeply stained yellow, black and dark red. As she delivers the food to Fujimura, Miss Nagai sees his hands, pushes the rice ball into his mouth. When he finishes eating it, she, saying “Ahhhn”, throws a piece of pickle into his mouth. Fujimura thinks, biting a pickle, that she, looking at him, is “a beautiful girl”. It’s past 11 PM, and Fujimura and his team have completed treatment on patients in the big room at the west end. Although the treatment is far from satisfactory, their main concern is that all patients are at least examined. The same number of patients are placed in the big room at the east end. Since Yoshida has completed his treatment of mild injuries, Fujimura and his team can skip several patients. He and the two veterinary nomcoms proceed with stopgap measures for patients one by one with practiced hands. Some complain of pains from wounds due to their dried up surfaces, after daytime treatment. The bandages are covered with gauze fully steeped in diluted rivanol to moisten the wounds. Many patients seem to have a fever. In this way, at least one of three team members alternates between rooms in east and west. But treatment by the team seems to go smoother than in the beginning. “Arrgh, mom, my back really hurts.” In the dark room, a boy whose voice is just about breaking, raves from time to time. The boy at that time does not say such infantile words. But as he is getting disoriented, and he calls out for his mother complaining of his pain. When Fujimura got into the military, he recognized for the first time that even a soldier over 20 years old called for his mother just before he died. Around 3 AM, suddenly, an air-raid alert is announced. Since electricity has been cut off on the whole island tonight, any alert prior to this air-raid alert has not been passed on, even if it has been released. Towards the end of war, the main cities of the country are attacked by air-raids or naval gunfire. When a large formation approaches the mainland, it can generally be predicted whether it will head to the Kyushu or Kanto region. However, a sudden air-raid alert means that the enemy is approaching in a small formation and they are already close to the area. Candlelights in all wards are immediately blown out. Everything is sunk in the dark. 28
Fujimura gathers 5 members of his team in a small room in the center of the ward and tells them to take a break. Their eyesight adjusts easier than usual to the dark since they have kept on working under candlelights. Fujimura wears the combat helmet which he took in the morning when he first went to the aid of victims, instructs his 5 team members to take a rest, moves to the room at the west end and sits down on at his usual place on the wooden apple box and wooden orange box. He has kept on working very hard for 12 hours since he arrived at this ward at 3 PM. He is, however, now accustomed to sit down here in a vacant manner. A large window on the westside opens to a faintly lit night sky. Groans and murmurs of voices of over 150 patients lying under the window are drifting. Fujimura is conscious of enemy airplanes approaching in the night sky of Hiroshima. From his cumulative experiences in Japanâ€™s Hanshin Region, he believes that one or two airplanes are on the way to scout the bombed site as a primary objective and also to bring a sense of fear to the people there. On such occasions, he always inevitably remembers the dead bodies of the mother and her baby which he saw in the early morning of February this year. Two formations of B29s dropped bombs and firebombs around the port of Kobe in the afternoon of that day, inflicting considerable damage to the area. That night, while everybody, exhausted, fell into a deep sleep, only one airplane came back and dropped two bombs on its return southwards through the Kii Straits. The next morning Fujimura had left the army post before 6 AM to go to headquarters in Nishinomiya. He took an alleyway shortcut to the tramway stop at Wadamisaki. He found a young mother dead on her stomach with her baby on her back. A bomb fragment penetrating the lower back of the baby seemed to pierce her chest region. Profuse bleeding was observed in the alley around her chest. The cheeks of the baby and young mother slightly turned away were frosted in pure white. He was forced to step over the legs of the young mother to get through the alley. Since then, he always remembers that scene whenever he is on stand by during an air-alert in similar circumstances. He thinks that if it is inevitable, he prefers to die, with one blow, as they did. Young men in Japan believe that they will surely die in the near future. For their own security, they are not allowed to make any choices by themselves. The roar of B29s approaching from the west is reaching ears. The plane does not seem to take the usual course to Hiroshima via Itsukushima Island but instead is approaching over this island. When the roar reaches overhead, patients in the ward at the west end have started making noise. In the room where Fujimura stays, he feels people suddenly stand up. 29
A man shouts. Triggered by his scream, patients having held their breaths in the darkness stand up all at once and begin to crush into two exits at center of the room, screaming in panic. “Gya-ha,” a nameless cry seems to be squeezed out of an immobilized patient who has been trampled down by others. “ Don’t panic! The enemy isn’t attacking us. Don’t panic!” Fujimura shouts, standing up at the exit. No- one listens to him. Some dark figures shove him away. They fall down,! flopping over him. He resists against heavy pressure. The chin strap of his combat helmet grips his throat. He yanks it off desperately. Figures over his upper body get out of his way , then again others flop over him. His combat helmet is kicked away by them, then rolls over on the floor. He hears its metallic noise on the floor, disappearing out onto the sand out of the exit. He is rapidly losing his consciousness.
3. Death of a Surgeon All the people on the earth are unable to move, being bound hand and foot. Everybody gazes at a single point in the sky. There, strongly shines an object, like a huge reddish burning planet. Its brightness glows more and more with a terrible speed. A huge fierce red celestial object seems to approach to our planet. Tremendous numbers of people are petrified as if they are stuck on the earth. It seems that they look over at the object and shout in a large mouth, but it’s impossible to clarify what they say. The red planet is getting closer and closer with a tremendous speed, like a red fire ball it approaches without any sound. “Woo-h!”with an involuntary cry, Fujimura wakes up. His ears catch various murmuring noises coming from the real world. They are more or less gentle noises. He has fallen asleep flat on his back between the apple and orange boxes used as his desk and chair. A candle is placed near his face and lighted. He imagines that candle light got in through his eyes, reflected on the retina, and gave him such a strange dream. “ No, please don’t move. Anywhere painful?” The sergeant from the veterinary section asks, looking down at him. Fujimura tries to move his body slowly between the two wooden boxes, then stands up. He feels pain on his whole body, like the pains of a bruise, which does not seem serious. The sky from the window begins to faintly lighten. He has slept deeply for about an hour. The sergeant takes him, when he stands up, to one of the small rooms in the center of ward. “ First, please check them.” Six dead bodies are laid down, people who died while he was sleeping. They are all severely charred. He remembers he heard, in the darkness, before fainting, some tremendous screams, “Gya-ha!”. He, however, having no means to ascertain who died around 3 AM when he fainted, instructs the sergeant to write down the time of the death while he visually confirms their deaths. To ascertain the time of death? Nothing would change. Fujimura makes a quick survey around the two big rooms, then goes outside to the ward. No boy soldier is there. They have worked hard during the night to gather and transport dead bodies scattered on the sandy space between the wards in the sparse pine grove. Wispy morning haze penetrates towards the pine grove from the sea surface but the sky overhead has no cloud like yesterday. It will be hot 31
There is a well, one of the few on the island, in the center of the 4 wards. He pumps it, anticipating it has dried up. But water comes up after a few pumps. He receives it in his hands, rinses his mouth and washes his face. The two typists are in line behind him and get water after a few pumps. “ Salute, An order has come from Headquarters. We will go back. Thank you for your care. Salute. “ Those in the line, give him a military salute. “ Thank you. You did your very best.” Holding down his emotion to tap their shoulders, he pulls out a filthy towel from the pocket of his trousers and wipes his face. “ Messengers never come at this time.It should be considerate of Sergeant to let the typists go. so he thinks in his mind. After having seen 6 dead bodies just a little while ago, he vividly feels something warm overflow in his frozen mind The backs of the figures of the two girls vanish away. He again pumps the well and gulps down water until it ends. Water from the well contains plenty of mineral components. The persistent odor of blood lingers in his mouth. A big guy comes dashing out from big room at east end of the ward, babbling unknown phrases and then disappears. He has got second degree burn injuries of on his head and shoulder. He has, however, never accepted treatment, shouting something unknown. Some patients have not come back since the air-raid mess in the night. Some new patients come in. It takes a little bit of time before order is restored. Fujimura and his team re-starts treatment for the patients. Soon they go through all the patients. A midsummer day has begun again. The typists have been back and have regained the posts they are responsible for. One typist has brought back a washed white coat and short sleeve shirt for military use. Fujimura has been forced to abandon his white coat since yesterday. His remaining short sleeve shirt is also awfully dirty. Lowering her eyes down to put his badge of rank on the white coat with safety pins, the girl reports to him that she took care of a girl called Yokoi san who was menstruating. She also reports to him in a low voice that there could be others who have unexpected menstruations or abortions. “ Thank you. But it is almost impossible, you see, to take any measures under the present circumstances. Take care of them, meanwhile, as much as you can.” She nods silently to his words. Fujimura, since his university days, was resigned to being called up by the army soon and to end up being killed in the war. He had little motivation to study gynecology or obstetrics. 32
While yesterday he saw the girl called Yokoi san, had a nosebleed, he has no particular medical knowledge to guess the reasons for her symptoms further. “ Leave to women what concerns women. There’s no other way.” So he says to himself. He has absolutely no knowledge nor insightful capability as a physician to ascertain such small symptoms as important ones. As the sun gets higher, the numbers of visitors to the medical wards increase. Last night and yesterday, it was just people received in the ward who walked around and tried to find their relatives or friends. Since this morning however, it is apparent that more and more people are travelling to the island to look for relatives. They hasten to get into the ward and ask in a loud voice: “ Is XX person ofYY town here?” They look busily around the ward, which is like an exhibition hall of dolls gathered up with burn scars. They leave for next ward. Among the victims received in Fujimura’s ward are junior high school students of an early grade. They are all suffering from severe burn injuries. Those students in later grades, from the 3rd grade up, have all been called up to the work at the munition factories and are forced to work regardless of day or night. Many cities all over the country are air-raided one by one. Houses made of paper and wood are burned away right and left, causing tremendous damage to the country. Policy makers, getting irritated, have decided to mobilize the remaining students in early grades: the first and second grade. They have cleared residents out from the closely-spaced wooden houses, and destroyed them. ! The houses in delineated areas are demolished to assure a fire control area like the one in mountain forest. Every morning boys gather in the center of the city and are divided into groups. A group of boys attaches thick ropes to a wooden house and pulls it down cheering “ Wasshoi, Wasshoi!”, like a tug-of-war at a school athletic meet. The lumber from collapsed houses is carried out with bare hands by the boys and piled up at a predefined place. In the morning ofAugust 6, the bomb blast and huge fireball that Fujimura saw from a distance rolled up those boys, shirtless, as they had just started the job. The majority of the boys were killed on the spot. Some survivors reached Ninoshima Island at last. Dozens of boys were received by his ward. In the darkness beyond candle light they just kept on calling their moms, weeping, gradually losing their senses, lingering between life and death, then died alone. 33
In the morning, when many people come to the island, worrying about their family, two boys are still alive in his ward. It is one of those two who can reunite with his family first. The boy, with his upper body charred up, reacts to the calls of his parents in a sheep voice. Four people rush toward him. The father stares, for a while, at the mother who keens helplessly, holding her son tight, cruelly injured, halffainting. “ I don’t think we can do anything good for our son. Nevertheless, I wish my son may pass away in peace at our home.” He says this to Fujimura in a really calm tone and asks him to release his son. Fujimura nods silently. The father hoists his son, half-passed out, on his back and stands up, encouraging his wife to follow him. “ It’s good for you, boy. At last you get to see your mom who you’ve called for all night long.” Other patients around congratulate the boy with his eyes closed, collapsing limply on his father’s back. The Four family members leave the place, repeating their gratitude. “ The father wishes his son to die in peace at home. But can resist until he gets home?” Fujimura is afraid of just this, seeing the backs of the 5 figures trail off. After a while, the other boy is discovered by his mother and elder sister. They ask Fujimura if they can stay at the ward for a few days. Their house burned down and they have no place to return to. During the morning, some patients are able to leave the ward together with family members who found them. There are some other families who stay in the ward as is the case with the boy’s mother and sister. They assist with the care of other patients around. The ward begins to gradually gain a more peaceful atmosphere. On the other hand, however, there is no end to the patients who, one after another, take their last breaths after exhaustive struggles with heavy burn injuries from the previous day. Dead bodies are carried out of the wards and are laid down under the pine trees. Boy soldiers who have re-started their work carry them away. “A-ge.Yoisho, Lift up, Alley oop.” These calls sound until the very last of the night, continue since early morning and never end. As the sun comes up, enemy scout planes visit frequently. They fly coming and going up in the sky relentlessly. Until about one week ago, Kure military port, beyond Eda Island, south of this island, was attacked for days by ship-based aircrafts. It was impossible to view Kure port from Ninoshima Island due to Eda Island lying in between. But the soldiers on Ninoshima saw many aircrafts dive-bombing 34
repeatedly through heavy anti-craft fire from the ground. Antiaircraft guns on the mountain side around Hiroshima bay also fought back each time forming a firing network. After a few days, the attack just stopped. Enemy airplanes were hardly seen in the sky. Today, a few faster scout aircrafts come and go cautiously, high above Hiroshima and Ninoshima Island. Recognizing that anti-craft fire remains silent, they gradually circle in at low altitude and sometimes fly just over the row of boy soldiers carrying out dead bodies. In the end, an awfully slow twin-boom airplane, called P- something, joins the group. Its crew is taking photographs in a relaxed manner. Such movements can been seen quite clearly from the ground. In the afternoon, a part of an inspection team dispatched by Imperial Head Quarters arrives at the Island. A branch captain and a technical second lieutenant come to the Fujimura’s ward. They tell him that they need to interview patients in detail about how they were injured by the bombing. This interview should have been done by him. He instantly accepts their request. The Branch captain seems to be well-versed in these kinds of hearing, not so much the technical second lieutenant. “ I was distracted sitting on a cane chair on the veranda. Yes sir, on the veranda on the first floor, facing the river. I heard my mom doing something downstairs. suddenly I felt a strong light flash around. My body seemed to be blown away. Then, I just found myself sitting in the river. Water, I remember, was around my chest level. Our house, neighboring houses, were all knocked down. Fire bursts out here and there. Before I returned to the riverbank, a sea of fire overwhelmed everything. Yes sir, I can’t say from where, but fire came from every direction all at once. I walked down the river together with the people around. When I got to a place not yet on fire, I climbed up to the riverbank and kept on walking. I arrived at Ujina port and then here, this island. Many people died on my way.” The Branch Captain is a man of few-words. The girl replies to him in a small voice. They call her Miss Nagai. “ I took a tram from Ujina. I sat on the west side of tram. Passengers were packed closely together in front. The tram suddenly stopped. A blast and fire came from the front. People standing in the front fell down on top of me. I was heavily burned, as you see, above my breast, but my injuries were not as bad as they could have been thanks to people standing in front of me ,who protected me. People at front of the tram were all killed. Others tried to get off the tram from the rear exit. Yes sir, all of them were burned heavily. Fire came from the north. We ran toward Ujina port. Many people collapsed on the road. Some were alive but most of those in the center of the road appeared to be dead. And also Captain, there was one dead person near the tram stop, bare-naked. Its clothes were all off. It had shit all over the 35
What a terrible smell! I’m sorry to speak about a dead person. In such a way. Even if the body was dead, its shit, I really saw, was still alive.” The Captain, nodding “uh-huh”, writes down the middle aged guy’s story in his notebook. “I had something to do and left home. I was walking north. Suddenly a reddish or purplish fire, bursting into the road in front, was rushing toward me. Woah! I panicked and dropped to the road. But my head and clothes were burned. I immediately put out the fire with water from the fire protection pool nearby.” This woman, who seems to be over 30 years old, has burned injuries on her head, shoulder and back. The burns on her shoulders and upper back under her red and white plaid blouse are specific: They mirror the pattern of blouse, with third degree burns under the red part and first degree burns under white part. Overhearing snippets of these interviews, Fujimura and his team carry on the treatment accordingly. During last night, many patients took their last breaths. Since this morning, some patients have left the ward with relatives who came to find them. The number of patients has decreased significantly. Instead the numbers of relatives who are staying to take care of patients has increased and makes up for the decrease in people. In contrast to yesterday, treatments are carried out at a good pace. They now have time to administer injections and take care of patients. . When Fujimura has idle time, the Technical Second Lieutenant comes and speaks to him. “ Opinions are divided on whether the number of B29s that attacked Hiroshima were one or two. Surgeon, what did you find out?” “Well, I heard only the noise of the attack and I didn’t see the shape of plane. A fairly high altitude, I heard a noise in the direction of Hiroshima from west. I imagined it was only one plane.” “ Goddamn it ! It dropped only one, a massive blackish bomb that seemed to have turned hard.” “ Did only one kill thousands?” “ No. Not thousands but tens of thousands.” “??” “Probably it was an atomic bomb. Yes, for sure.” “Really? The country that gets an atomic bomb has the world under its control. No war eternally ever after. It’s called a doomsday device. Was it that atomic bomb?” “Yes. We figured out the theory of how make it, probably about one year earlier than our enemies. But enormous facilities and electricity are required to build it. That’s why no permission has been issued. The enemy did it! It’s too bad!” the second lieutenant, who appears quite brilliant, says , greatly frustrated. 36
Fujimura is regularly told: “The mission of the surgeon is to survive until the last soldier is killed and to ascertain his death.” He thinks that he should be clearly aware that the moment is approaching as a reality. He returns to his work treating patients. The second lieutenant stays beside him for a while and seems to want to discuss more with him, but soon leaves, giving up his desire. “Nothing may change even if I get to know more.” Fujimura murmurs so in his mind. In the evening, an instruction says that dinner will be ready in the building’s office and that the soldiers may go for it one at a time when it is possible. Fujimura leaves the ward before sunset. During the stages, dead bodies are burnt in a big fire-pit normally used for burning war horses. Later, dead bodies are piled up so numerous that the soldiers knock down the stable of the horse quarantine station, pile up scrap wood on the horse grounds and cremate the dead bodies. In the dusk of evening, in a corner of the island, two pillars of fire and smoke flare high up in the sky. A line of boy soldiers carrying dead bodies continues from the west gate of the quarantine station to the gate of the horse quarantine station, passing the path along the beach. In the same lane, there is the lodging for non-coms with a long veranda and four big tatami rooms. Separate doors that protect against the weather can be used on rainy or windy days. Duringthe summer season, only shoji, paper doors, separate the rooms from the long veranda. The shoji is usually left open. Fujimura nearly gasps in surprise when he opens the shoji casually. The inside of the 18 tatami mat sized room is very hot. Dozen of young women lie on futon mats, laid out as beds around the room. Some of them have even blankets. Except for a few, most are without injury. The difference between these women and the thousands of victims in the ward is night and day. Thinking this, he opens his officer baggage which has been put in the back of the room. He finds that its inside is a rummaged mess, with under-wear, reference books, note books torn away. He gets mad instantly and looks back around the women laying down lazily. They all feign ignorance. “They had to scramble to get away here, having lost everything,” he rethinks, deciding not to complain about anything and to leave the room. A woman, apparently the eldest among them , sits on her futon and says to Fujimura in a defiant manner, “This room is for the families of officers only.” Her aggressive tone says, how it comes a guy like you intrudes in our room. 37
“If you are the family of an officer, you wouldn’t touch others’ belongings, regardless of your difficulties. On top of that, you wouldn’t tear up army documents to blow your nose.” He freezes instantly and bluntly tells her so. “Sorry, Surgeon, I will be more careful.” Quickly catching sight of his badge of ranki mark as turns around, she apologizes to him. But her attitude remains unchanged, implying that he should leave here as soon as possible. When he gets out to the veranda, he leaves two shojis open and compares inside to outside, where the line of boy soldiers carrying dead bodies always continues. Behind him, before he gets his shoes on, sitting on the edge of veranda, the shoji doors are shut in a rough way with a sharp clap. Standing up, he compares the miserable dead bodies carried in and the women lying around flabbily behind the shoji doors. “ Well, the difference should be only if it breathes or not.” He again rethinks and starts walking. Ahead if him, black smoke burning dead bodies keeps on rising more closely. Its distinctive smell hangs over heavily in the stagnating air of the evening calm. Short stone steps from the lodging for non-coms’ west end lead to a rocky hill top. There are three ridges of smaller buildings on top of the hill, one of which, facing the garden is, being used as the assembly house of the officers. Major surgeon Hirota, who is also the commanding officer of Fujimura’s unit, sits on a garden rock near the top of the steps. He is in a formal uniform. Fujimura salutes and attempts to say a word to the Major surgeon, who stops Fujimura, raising his right hand, and directs him toward the administration office. “Go there.” Seeing his unusual attitude, Fujimura understands, “The royal family member who arrived here yesterday is still alive.” The figure of the Major, becoming the color of the sunset, with black smoke rising up nearby on his back, lets Fujimura foresee a symbol of the Japanese army that should turn to ruin sometime soon. In the administration office room, the woman who takes care of their meals at the officers’ assembly house prepares his dinner. Maybe because of timing. Fujimura is only one who is eating a diner. She tells him that Second Lieutenant Egami of the same unit went to the city since this afternoon. He asks three refills of hot miso soup, but it is too much for him to eat grilled fish. Its smell reminds him of everything that has happened since yesterday morning. After dinner, Fujimura returns to the ward with a sense of fulfillment. 38
Behind him, flames leap out of the scrap wood fire light up the pine trees. However, it evokes no sentimental feeling in his mind. Electricity has been restored during the daytime. Although dusky lamps illuminate each ward, no light leaks outside the ward due to air raid alertness. Nevertheless, people gather here and there to enjoy the cool evening breeze or to cook meager meal. One patient died during Fujimura’s less than one hour absence. It was the big guy who was in the room at the east end and had had difficulty speaking. Yoshida guides him to the dead body and reports to him after. “Just before he died, he became quiet suddenly and could speak without difficulty. The patient,, who was a surgeon in the city, told me his story: `Up to now, he said, I didn’t want to have your treatment, because it was so unhygienic. I shouted and lingered around. It was to find anyone who was one of my colleagues. I owe you very much. Now I have suddenly recovered enough to speak, when I have spoken so badly. But it doesn’t mean that I am recovering from my disease. On the contrary, it’s evident that I am close to the end. Not only myself but other people here will die from symptoms that none have ever seen nor have heard. When I die, I wish surgeons to do an autopsy on my body and to look for countermeasures against the disease. This is my will, which I entrust to you. Please don’t forget to report it to the surgeon.` Well then, he let me to care of him, seemed to be reassured, and fell into a doze. I found him dead when I come back from my tour,” Yoshida reports to Fujimura emotionally. Fujimura, having no words, writes down remarks in a clinical diary, stamps the death certificate and hands it to Yoshida. He gives a brief account of the death to Kasuya, who has just appeared, instructs him to help Yoshida carry the dead body, and receives an order from the adjutant. The Two men disappear in the evening dust, carrying the heavy weight of thebig dead body on a stretcher. A desk and a chair for Fujimura have been brought to the room where his team members took a rest when the air-raid alert was issued before dawn today. Batches of unfiled clinical diaries scribbled down in pencil and death certificates of those who died in his ward since last night are piled up on the desk left unwanted, under a lamp covered by black cloth. He reflects in detail on the words the senior surgeon left to Yoshida, confronted by these papers. His reflection is suspended when the sergeant of veterinary sergeant comes to his desk. “A patient in the big room in the west wing is breathing strangely. 39
Please come and see.â€? He follows sergeant.
4. Morbid Anatomy The patient whom the veterinary sergeant asks Fujimura to see is one who has had a high fever since this afternoon and burn injuries on the head and both forearms. When he checked the patient in the daytime the patient had an inflammation. White filthy coverture caked in the bottom of the throat. Fever at 38 degrees. He couldn’t find any other particular symptoms. Now, the fever marks over 40 degrees. The inflammation is getting worse. Respiration is getting constricted. Consciousness has completely deteriorated. Red dot hemorrhage appears thickly on the breast and abdominal region. The patient’s respiratory sounds are mixed with rasps in all phases. It seems that pneumonia is rapidly diffusing. He finds a sterile syringe of 100cc brought from the veterinary section by the sergeant. He carefully injects carbohydrate solution into the patient, who ceases breathing before he finishes the injection. As soon as the breathing ceases, the color of dot-patterned hemorrhage turns in a moment from dark red to purple. Fujimura confirms the time of death and lets sergeant record pneumonia as the cause of death. He remembers the conversation with Yoshida last night when Yoshida, without thinking he told him about disease named “Sudden Attack or Blitzkrieg Purpura”. He thinks that the cause of this death could be same as the case last night. He has, however, advised the sergeant that it was pneumonia, prioritizing his findings in the patient’s breast region. He has never seen a patient with purpura.(serious internal bleeding) If he had seen even one case, he would have immediately consulted a textbook . After graduation from the medical faculty, 6 months were reserved for surgical training and another 6 months were for training as a soldier. His duty as an army surgeon started one year ago. Most of the time was spent on the prevention ofA type paratyphoid and rescue training for air-raids. In the army hospital of a certain scale there are always one or two army surgeons of an associate professor level. Fujimurais ranked as a Noncommissioned officer but receives due respect from his colleagues and advises them, though in a modest manner, when they need it. But ordinary field units have no such advisor. Most units know only how to command the lower rank by the higher rank and there is no appreciable difference in medical knowledge among them and few occasions to teach or to be taught. Even if someone asks another for advice during a difficult case, the best they can do is to worry about it together. 41
Fujimura has no knowledge or means to treat patients like the two who had acute symptoms of high fever and purple spots. Apart from those two dead, there are now few patients who get stomatitis and fever. He seems to have lost his courage to find any measure to treat such cases from the beginning. He knows however that injecting carbohydrate solution or Ringers solution is effective for severe burn patients. It is an unique treatment that he can afford and continue to do. The volume of blood transfusions at that time, even in big surgical operations, was at maximum 600 cc. It was conducted with a syringe connected to a rubber tube by a T-shape stopcock. It took time. When it was needed, a hypodermic injection from an irrigator was given to the front thigh. A fully swollen part of thigh caused by the injection was massaged, and covered by a hot towel, taking sufficient time, so that transfused blood could be integrated into a vein in the end. Fujimura and his unit have neither blood nor instruments for transfusion. Moreover, they have no know-how to implement transfusion to under skin suffered from burned injury. Even if they can do, they hardly find an assistant who takes care of massage for long time. He takes a 100 cc syringe and keeps on injecting as much carbohydrate and Ringer solution as is available into the elbow veins of patients. One injection takes about 30 minutes. WIthin two days the number of patients has decreased by half. But he thinks he can only complete injections for 10 patients or so even by the next morning. He fixes, with his left hand, the syringe needle inserted into the elbow vein and depresses slowly, with his right hand, the pump of syringe. It requires patience and persistence. Fujimura continues to impose it on himself as if he is being cursed by the gods for his inability. Otherwise he has no means to combat against his sense of incompetence as a physician, lacking experience. In the evening, pills called “Kohajyos”, or “Redwaves” are delivered by the Medical Department. Six pills for two days are packed in thick low quality paper tinted in black, like a film package. He is aware of the general rule for trial doses of new medicine to have two separate groups, one to be dosed, the other not to be dosed. He unpacks all and delivers one pill each to the heavily injured patients. He remembers what he saw yesterday morning, a huge light scarlet ripple, expanding slowly, flickering away to the bright blue sky on top of the bank of cloud. He imagines the scarlet ripple doubling it with the mysterious name of the medicine, “Redwave”. He hardly anticipates, however, that any positive effect will appear on many heavy injured patients from a single dose of a pill. No positive effects:the result of the injection he has spent many hours 42
administering turns out to be nearly the same as the pills. Some had already died while he spent 30 minutes on the transfusion of 100 cc of the solution to others. Or some patients get new fevera. Some cases prove that patients visibly get well just after the transfusion. But many again becomedelirious, doze off and die like a light flickering out. “Use what you have, God will bless it” A young man, his heart seems to be governed by a sort of resigned feeling as time passes by. Each time he feels so, he knows all he can do is just stir up the fighting spirits as the sportsman does, and face, by himself, the difficulties continuously attacking him, using the means available on the spot. The next morning, again, many people come arrive on the island looking for their families and relatives. A middle-aged man, who introduces himself as a school inspector from Hiroshima Prefecture, visits the ward. He says that he makes the rounds to check the death situation for junior high school students. Fujimura guides him, visibly very serious, to his office, and shows him the stack of coarse papers piled up on his desk. “The records are not at all perfect. Please feel free to check them.” He returns to the ward again. The school inspector checks the records for half an hour and then returns to the ward. He sits down beside a boy, the sole survivor in the ward, and speaks to him for a while. Fujimura just passes by him as he crouches down beside the boy, holding his hands against his face. His shoulders are trembling. “What’s the matter with you? Are you all right?” The school inspector is sobbing, his shoulders trembling. “ Yes, I’m all right.” He pauses. “ I kind of almost kill all those boys.” Fujimura is shocked that the educator is still tempted to think as he does. “ It is absolutely not you who killed your boys. You, also, and I, may be killed soon. It’s better to think differently. Don’t you think you shouldn’t blame yourself too much?” The old school inspector, stands up, nodding at the words of Fujimura, as young as his son, and trudges toward the next ward. The third day. A visitor appears on the island at last looking for the girl whom Fujimura and his team call Miss Nagai. The person who finds her is a short young man of about the same age as her. He stays beside her until evening and returns to the city. Early the next morning, he comes back to her. They seem to fully enjoy their conversation. When she gets tired, she lies down. They lie down, holding each other for hours. No one dares to talk to them, hugging each other in front of so many 43
people in the ward. The young man is, for sure, to be chased into the war and to meet his end in the suicide charge. The girl also has a fragile life tomorrow judging from her symptoms. People around wish them to spend their very limited time as they wish. People, with such feelings, dare not look at them. “Miss Nagai, hey, your little darling has gone home?” Some non-coms say this to her by chance when they find out the young man disappeared, but they never go further to ask who he is or to joke about them. In the evening of the third day, the girl they call Yokoi san is taken away with her brothers by her relative. Fujimura has heard only her message; “Many thanks to the surgeon.” He is not sure if he was absent for a mission or for other treatment when she left. “Professor Tsuzuki and his party have arrived and will conduct an autopsy at headquarters. Any medic who is available must observe it.” A male orderly from HQ announces in the ward. “I think Professor Tsuzuki teaches at Chiba University. Is he transferred to Tokyo University?” “No, I don’t know for sure.” “It’s OK. He said it would start at one o’clock, right?” Fujimura hastens to eat his lunch due to his work at the ward running long. When he enters the room, he sees about 20 medics around the large autopsy table from the war-horse sanitary station. It looks like that many of the people gathered here are strangers to him . “Oh, here you are now. Explain the symptoms to the professor, immediately,” Captain Amano, an adjutant, quickly noticing Fujimura enter the room, says to him. Medics around the autopsy table spare a space for him and someone hands the clinical diary over to him. It is written on the cheap pulpy paper in pencil and was brought here with the dead body. “The patient is a surgeon in the city,,,,,,,” He starts to explain, in the kind of tone as if he is in a practical training session atuniversity, all he knows about the symptoms. “ Really? Aphasia was produced? But it was slightly relieved before the death, wasn’t it?” The professor, who keeps on casting, above his mask, a sharp look at him, eases off slightly at that moment. He then gives some instruction by eye contact to one of his assistants on his right rear side. The assistant, nodding back silently to acknowledge the instruction of the professor, takes a big knife, removes the bandage around the head of the corpse, cuts open the burned skin of the head in a single stroke, and starts cutting skull bone with an electric saw horizontally above the ear line. 44
In the meantime, Fujimura darts his eyes to the incision line of the breast cut up in a median line, then to the abdominal region. Dark red petechial hemorrhagic lesions are clearly noticeable on the thick light yellow subcutaneous fat layer of the abdominal wall appearing on the incision line. Similar blood spots are fully observable on the dark red surface of liver when it is taken out, and on its right sharp cut surface. Soon the skull bone is cut out horizontally and removed as if a pot is taken away. A big pale yellow brain appears. Identical, clear red petechial hemorrhagic lesions (blood spots) are noticed everywhere on the surface of the soft brain, which can be observed through translucent hard brain membrane. The whole brain is carefully removed from the skull and is respectfuly wrapped in grease paper, prepared in advance for this. The professor gives an instruction in a low voice. The other assistant takes out the tibia and hands it over to him. He cuts it carefully lengthwise with the electric saw. Bone marrow exposed looks bilious ash gray and has again numerous clear red blood spots just as do all other parts of the body. The professor shows the cut face of tibia to all persons present. “It’s poliomyelitis. Hematopoietic function has been totally destroyed.” He explains to them in a voice like a whisper. “Ho !” All present heave voiceless sighs. “You will be advised of the details of the findings after this meeting with the professor. Break-up!” Captain Amano, the adjutant, tells all, in a groaning tone. Nearly 20 medics leave autopsy room, pretending their spirits are high, shielding their devastated morale. Without a word, Fujimura breaks up the others and heads to the ward, passing pine tree lane. A mid summer sunbeam through leaves reflects on clear white sands. It sharply irritates his eyes, suffering from lack of sleep. It sometimes causes a loss of sight, or feeling faint. Bright red petechial hemorrhagic lesions that appeared on the whole surface of pale yellow brain fill up his sight and disappear. “To kill a man, it’s enough to fire only one small bullet like a bean behind his ear. Bright red blood spots appeared on the every part of body,,, How does it come to be that a man has to be killed by such an extreme manne Young Fujimura questions himself deep inside, feeling the strong rush of emotion, exploding from the deep bottom of his heart. “How it is possible to get such perfect means for murder? Furthermore, it’s a man, a similar figure like me, who has made it.” He thinks further. 45
He cannot avoid feeling that the symptom complex they have treated desperately since August 6 should be related with radiation. The physics lectures in his high school days which he followed less than ardently recall to him that radioactive metals represented by radium metamorphose in many years into non-radioactive metals , like lead. A physical energy in radium is unharnessed as a small amount of invisible radiation and sensitizes film for photographs wrapped in black paper. Radiation which diffuses radioactive metals is composed of three kinds. α, β, γ ray and αray penetrate least; β ray and γ ray penetrates a human body like an X ray. Radium changes into zinc for a long time and loses its radioactivity. If this change can be drastically accelerated by applying a certain force, it can radiate a huge energy. Known asC a radium bomb, it would generate heat, power and strong radiation. Fujimura vaguely remembers such knowledge. He was informed just after entering the army that Doctor Nishina and his team were developing their studies on a weapon, called an atomic bomb, which emits violent heat, force and lethal rays by colliding neutrons against nucleus. It is said among soldiers that the countries are under fierce competition to develop this weapon and that the country who gets it first will conquer the world and no other country will never be tempted by war, which means that the atomic bomb is the terminal weapon. He extends his thoughts: The second lieutenant engineer told him that the bomb dropped in the morning of 6 August could be an atomic bomb such as the soldiers said themselves was the terminal weapon. If what the second lieutenant told him is true, needless to say for Japan, an immediate enemy, but even Britain and France, members of the allied forces, will grovel at the feet ofAmerica to be itsslave. The world will relapse to the era of the ancient Roman Empire, which conducted tyranny as they wished. In those days, a young physician freshly graduated from the medical faculty had only this level of knowledge. It is obviously the autopsy findings of Professor Tsuzuki and his team that indicates to him a certain relation between the symptom of all his patients and radiation from the atomic bomb. He remembers that the first burn injury he saw seemed to be somehow different from those that he saw in the past. He becomes more and more convinced so, when he recalls that the patients who came to see him one after another died one after another. Usually burned skin peels off due to a blister from fluid generated between epidermis (the outermost layer of skin on the human body) and dermis (the area between the outermost layer and lower skin layers such as the cutaneous region). He definitely observed some blisters of this nature among his patients. But most of the cases showed hydrops formed under the entire skin. The whole body of the patient became swollen up thickly. When the skin 46
peeled off, not only the epidermis but also the dermis, almost all layers of skin peeled down. Blood spouted out instantly. When he inspected a patients’ burn, he found it spread widely on the whole body and judged at once, “they will not survive.” He hesitated to put zinc oil on the wounded part, which was a conventional treatment in that period. He simply thought that the swollen up parts should have contact with air as much as possible. He had witnessed, at the military medical college in Beijing, open treatment practiced for the wounded part of femoral complex fracture. It proved that a large wound could be sooner cured by assuring its contact with air. For burn injuries, he applied gauze with diluted rivanol solution. Such sheet of gauze was spread wide and had several layers, loosely bandaged, so as not to fall down, but to have air in between. When the gauze on the wound dried up, it was moistened with rivanol solution again. These methods made it possible to change gauzes speedily and gave far less pain to the patients. “Something is different from usual burn injuries.” So he felt. , Nevertheless, he had to continue his treatment, exercising his ingenuity. Patients died almost certainly in proportion to the size of their burn injury area. Even though the invasion depth is less important thanβray and γray, he treated the wound as if it were an αray in principle which had invaded the body deeper than an ordinary heat ray, applying traditional concepts for burned injuries. In the end, his whatever ingenuity he exercised turned out to be of no use. Fujimura doesn’t need to be reminded what happened with his patients during the first evening. He desperately named the disease Dengeki-yo purpura,(blitzkrieg) for the patients with no significant external injury, but attacked by high fever in a short period of time. Two days after he had simply wrote “pneumonia” as the cause of death for the patient who died from oral ulcers, followed by high fever and breathing difficulty. Everything has been identified at the autopsy where he assisted a little while ago. He sits behind the desk with his chin in hand in his small office and looks at the heap of death certificates on the desk. In the column of cause of death, the phrase, “Burn injury at 3rd degree on whole body” is printed by mimeograph, prepared in a rush. The name of the disease should now be modified to “Acute radiation injury.” Fujimura, however, says to himself, “ What’s the difference?. It’s only the guy who’s alive who can argue the names of death for those who died.” He believes that one of those names will soon be put on his dead body. It’s nonsense to argue now. He remembers a book that he got in his student days, ”Madame Curie, a biography” by Eve Curie. He read with deep emotion how Madame Curie 47
died, being invaded slowly by terminal chronic radiation injury. He was also touched by the passion of the author, who kept on writing with unshakeable pride, of her parents having dedicated their whole lives for the research of radioactive metals. He read it several times. But he cannot remember at all the part of the book where she detailed the disease of her mother. He struggles to recall the content of the book and finally remembers the story where they alternate between hope and despair by the fluctuation of numbers of white blood cells in peripheral blood. “Poliomyelitis, isn’t it? Hematopoietic function has completely failed.” So said Professor Tsuzuki a little while ago. Fujimura comes up with an idea to count the number of blood cells. He did it more often enough during his surgery training course. He instructs Yoshida to find a melangeur, an instrument to extract a blood sample somewhere. Yoshida finds the necessary tools through a Non-com in the 3rd quarantine group. He brings back a flat case with a mixer and a calculation tray , necessary for the calculation of blood cells, a small surgical knife and calculator. According to the Non.com, “Hayem’s solution could still be good for use, but Turk’s solution could be a little bit old. It is forbidden to take out the microscope. You can use it in the laboratory. He says so.” Fujimura, in haste, cuts a little of the earlobe of the female patient, suffering from fever due to stomatis or oral ulcer, and soaks blood oozing from the earlobe up to the middle line of the melangeur for white blood cells. Then he soaks up Turk’s solution in the melangeur to fill it and shakes it up sharply. He leaves the ward, shaking the melangeur, pinched with his thumb and fourth finger, jamming the vacuum hole with rubber tube. He remembers that two years ago he walked back and forth to the laboratory from the surgery ward to the laboratory, shaking a melangeur through the long corridor in the university. He renews his thought that those days will never come back. He used to step out from a patient’s room, with the melangeur being shook up in his right hand, thinking back on what patients appealed to him. They complained about the flatulence after the surgical operation for appendicitis or abdominal pain due to hard feces. He used to walk through long corridor recalling if his own treatment orders to the nurse were appropriate,,, During the collection of her blood, she tells him that she finds her hair falls out when she wakes up in the morning. She then pulls apart her bangs. 5~6 strands of hair fall out in gobs, apparently without any significant force put on them. It seems as if the strands of hair fall out without any resistance. She just acts so casual and doesn’t say another word. He leaves the ward, having simply listened to her. He walks towards the laboratory on the sandy lane shadowed sparsely by pine trees, shaking the right hand which holds the melangeur pinched 48
with his thumb and fourth finger. He recalls vividly the strands of her hair falling out, whirling between her thin fingers as if they are alive and dancing in the air. The laboratory, normally busy with the activities of First lieutenant Sugata and Second lieutenant Egami, specialists for bacteriology, as well as the experienced non-coms, remains calm since the mess on August 6th which has called them away for the rescue. He shakes the melangeur once, clears out the first drop, then puts the solutionbetween the deck glass and blood cell calculation board after checking it, confirming that transparent purple has tinted to light red. He focuses the view of the microscope on the lines engraved on the calculation board. He cannot find a single figure of white blood cells normally scattered on the board, tinted in deep purple. In vain, he changes the focal depth in various ways. Next, he futilely cleans the deck glass and calculation tray. None of such cells can be identified. Having heard that the Turkâ€™s solution could be old, he makes the third trial, though he is about ready to give up. He identifies then, the blood cell clearly tinted as usual. But the number of the blood cell is so small. He counts only a few. He repeats measurement 9 times. According to standard procedure he excludes the first two and last two times, and he counts only19 blood cells in total, ie an average less than 4 cells. The numbers of white blood cells in one cubic millimeter is counted by doubling this figure, then multiplying by 100. 800 cells, the result of measurement for this case, is one tenth of the normal case, a really incredible figure. Fujimura, not inherently good at thinking, gives up calculating blood cells at this stage and decides not to think any more. A drastic decrease of white blood cells from about 7000 to one tenth simply means death. It is beyond his imagination that the medical science of the period could find any other means than blood transfusion to save the patient.
5. The Second Bomb on Nagasaki The next day is also fine and hot. The number of patients in Fujimura’s ward drops drastically for a period of time. The number dead bodies taken out from the ward seems to be decreasing as fewer patients have burns covering large surface. Instead, gradually the number of deaths increases for the patients whose get hair is falling out, have a fever, manifest a serious oral ulcer followed by bleeding, and then acutely lose their physical strength. The female patient whose white blood cells were measured yesterday starts vomiting up blood in the afternoon and is choked to death by her last large volume bleeding. She had no strength to disgorge her blood. Fujimura inspects her body which is laying on its back. He turns her over and finds dark red eruptions of blood into the skin all over her back. He cannot control the shivering sensation spontaneously swelling up within himself. He brutally erases the printed disease name “Burn injury at 3rd degree on whole body” and writes down without any hesitation “Acute radiation injury.” He is stuck alone in his small office, too stunned to say a word for awhile. Without needing to count on his fingers, he is more or less sure that several among a hundred of his patients have already got fever. He has no idea how much this number is going to increase. He finds it of no use just thinking about it and cannot but restart preparing the intravenous injection of the carbohydrate solution. In the evening, about 20 of the medical officers are called at the officer’s assembly house. General Manager Major Hirota, who attended the meeting at the Vessel Surgeon Division in the Ujina Head Quarters is going to make a report of the meeting. Fujimura does not know more than half of the medical officers in the house. They are most probably from the Vessel Hygiene unit. He begins to listen to Major Hirota, anyway. It is reaffirmed that the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on the 6th of August was the atomic bomb the Technical Second Lieutenant told Fujimura about. “ In the day, at 8:15 AM, a bomb dropped from extremely high in the sky exploded at about 600 meter’s high, above the Gokoku shrine. Instantly, the area within a 2 kilometer radius was all aflame. The heat in the center of the explosion is said to have been about 3000 degrees centigrade and people around appeared to be evaporated instantly and burned away. People directly bombed within the 2 kilometer radius were killed on the spot or heavily burned and died in one or two days, depending on the 50
size of the injury. Next to the heat, the destructive power which caused human damage was extremely huge. Its power is supposed to be equivalent to a ten thousand ton TNT bomb. The symptoms now in grave question have, as you imagine, originated from the radioactive ray The amount of radioactive ray from the atomic fission is supposed to be equivalent to the amount generated by one ton of radium in just a moment, instead of over a long time period. It is known that these radioactive rays decay inversely to square distance and also decay as days pass by. However, the decay time varies depending on the radioactive materials as described on the half-life timetable. Further, as a separate issue, it is also known that radioactive materials absorbed in a human body transfer radioactivity to various metals in the body. It is possible, for example, that carbon or calcium diffuse radioactive rays as a result. It will be a future issue. Please, now, tell us what you have seen in these days and what views you have. General Manager Major Hirota opens a free discussion. “At first, hair falls out.” “Falling out in gobs.” “Then oral ulcers with a false membrane. I thought it was diphtheria. But the color of the false membrane was different.” “Then, fever, followed by bleeding.” “Well, most of the pregnant women, they had miscarriages, didn’t they?” “No. There were a few, but most babies were born safely.” “So? Are the babies doing well?” “Well it’s not sure yet.” “The oral ulcer is caused by the decrease of white bloods cell, isn’t it? Has someone counted them?” “I am not certain of the result because the solution we used could be old, but I guess there were only 1500 cells.” “How about red blood cells?” “Certainly fewer, but not as terrible as the case of white blood cells.” “And, it decreases, for sure.” “Is there any effective treatment?” “ I can’t think of anything but blood transfusion.” “I have a child patient from this island who continues blood transfusion everyday with 100cc of blood offered by neighbors. So far, so good.” “This means, if there are sufficient blood suppliers, there are cases where we can save lives, doesn’t it?” “But if there is a question of secondary radiation, problems are yet to 51
come.” “At the army medical division, they say a large dose of vitamin C may be effective.” “There are still vitamins available. Let’s try it.” Other opinions and ideas are presented. The pharmaceutical division reports on the availability of hygiene products, chemicals and drugs. None of the measures discussed seem to give hope to overcome the current situation. For example, even if they say they have the stock of the injection solution of vitamin C, the total volume available would be some boxes of a hundred ampules with 2cc solution. It is hardly possible to expect any significant effect from such injections. Early the next morning, Private First Class Hanai shows up at Fujimura’s ward. He takes care of him well since they are from neighboring prefectures. “Surgeon, I have met a person who knows your father. He is first lieutenant of the branch and is suffering from a crush injury to his lower legs.” “Where is he?” “In the cave, inside.” “OK I will visit him later. By the way, what is your duty?” “I am with the Captain at Ward No.26.” “Where was it set up?” “In the stable, in the west end.” “In the stable? It’s terrible.” “Well, far cleaner than here.” Hanai goes away, laughing cheerfully. A little before noon, Fujimura sees the First Lieutenant who knows his father. Near the exit of the cave, dug on the slant of west side of Mt.Akikofuji in the center of the island, the First Lieutenant sits down with his back on the wall of the cave and stretches out his legs. His crush injuries to his lower legs are heavily suppurated and infested with maggots. He says no other part is injured. He mentions the name of one of Fujimira’s relatives, a person whom Fujimura has never met, through whom the First Lieutenant got to know Fujimura’s father. The first lieutenant, called up by the army a second time, met Fujimura’s father before he left his home for Hiroshima. His father asked him to meet his son, posted on the island. “I was asked by your father to meet you. But I was assigned to the unit after it was newly organized and have been too busy to visit here. Now I end up seeing you in such bad shape.” He strains his cheek in a self-mocking manner. 52
“Your legs are injured so seriously that I am afraid both of them may have to be cut off. You’d better move immediately to the ward.” “Thank you, but I feel safer here. Meals are served regularly three times a day. Treatment is also provided. I’d like to stay here. I’d appreciate it if you come to see me from time to time.” He doesn’t listen to Fujimura. Fujimura sees, in the cave, many patients sitting down vacantly with their backs against the wall. This line of patients continues deeper in the cave, with no sunshine getting through. All the patients, having lost all their belongings, are injured and in really miserable shape. Surveillance aircraft fly over several times today. The people in the cave seem to believe that the place they occupy is the safest place. They dare not take any more risks. So he thinks. He forgets about the First Lieutenant after he leaves him on that day. After the war,the movie “The Orphans of the Atomic Bomb” l recall him ofthe First Lieutenant, when he saw it. In the movie, the homeless waifs in Hiroshima went across to Ninoshima island and dug up human bones, having sneaked into the cave. The place looked like the one where that First Lieutenant cowered against the wall. Years later, Fujimura found himself in a sober mood, brought on by the fact that he had completely forgotten the First Lieutenant. Among the US soldiers stationed in Hiroshima after the war ended, it grew popular to bring a human bone dug up from the ruins of Hiroshima back to their home country. The jawbone had a particularly good price. It was understandable that the orphans just abandoned in the ruins went to Ninoshima Island to dig for such human bones. He was disgusted to imagine that such souvenirs in the corner of cabinets in their homes kept on releasing small quantities of radiation. Fujimura gets out of the cave, leaving the first lieutenant there and goes down the slope. He heads to No. 26 medical ward. He finds the ward on the surface more or less same as his ward but the floor is totally paved by cement like the stable. It has been cleaned up from wall to wall, without any dust left. Some of thewooden panels of the wall facing the sea have each been removed, allowing cool sea wind to blow between them. Where did they get them? New thick Goza mats for one square Ken (have been put on the floor. They are lined up, widely spaced and are allocated one for each family. He hasn’t seen First Lieutenant Muramoto in the last 5 days. not the kind of guy to take on too many tasks at one time. You know me, Fuji, don’t you?” “Yes sir, I know. Instead, someone gets stuck holding the bag, doesn’t he?” “Kasuya told me. You had over 600 patients at a time?” 53
“Certainly not. Maximum half of that.” “By the way Fuji, have you read it?” It is today’s newspaper that Muramoto throws on the desk. It is a single page of the newspaper. Fujimura has never read the newspaper since he was called up as a soldier. All the articles are forged by lies and simply raise, by force, the tension of his mental depression. Today, however, his stare is frozen on the newspaper. “Specialty Bomb Dropped on Nagasaki.” “Soviet Union Enters War.” His eyes are grabbed by the huge headlines of the newspaper. Muramoto calmly speaks to Fujimura, who is hastening to read the articles. “You’ve heard that Japan has requested the Soviet Union to propose its surrender to the Allied Forces , haven’t you? That the Soviet Union has invaded Manchuria, crushing the request of Japan in their hands.” “The Kwantung army, the proud elite force, has all been sent to the southern front from Busan and most of them drowned in Bashi Channel. So then, the armed divisions of the Soviet Union, after passing the border, are speeding towards a desolated wilderness, aren’t they?” “Maybe so. Their advance will meet the American army. Americans are slow-movers. The two parties may collide somewhere in Korea. There, US-Soviet war will break out.” “Twe may get involved in the war, being split in half, won’t we?” “Yeah, according to the order the relation with of Mao Tsu-tung or Chiang Kaishek. What a disgusting story!”A howl breaks loose from all over the short body of First Lieutenant Muramoto. Who brought it here? Fujimura, sitting on the opposite side of the round table, not matching at all with the atmosphere, thinks about different things. The atomic bomb is considered as doomsday weapon. If it is so, it would be good enough to show its effect in Hiroshima worldwidey Why did they have to drop two bombs consecutively? Maybe the atomic bomb cannot be the terminal weapon it is said to be.--- So he begins to doubt. On the other hand, he recalls vividly various phenomena he has seen with his own eyes since the 6th ofAugust. He thinks it’s impossible to change his recognition that the atomic bomb is the perfect weapon of mass murder, having never been imagined by mankind. America dropped the first one in the morning of the 6th ofAugust and gave Hiroshima the most extensive and severe damage that mankind has ever had. With only two days’ interval they dared to commit exactly the same mass murder in Nagasaki. 54
Fujimura will never understand the idea why America had to be in such a hurry as to drop two atomic bombs consecutively. He, as his nature, does not stick to thinking about one thing in one way or another and stops thinking any more when he does not find the answer after a short while. Nevertheless he finally draws out two inferences. The first one concerns the three powers of the atomic bomb: Extensive and devastating physically destructive force, Violent heat. Radiation that inflicts a detriment influence on the living body. The first two items could be well known to the Americans. However he doubts that they have not foreseen properly the third power, the effect of radiation. Reflecting on it now, on the first or the second day after being injured by the bomb, we could only guess at what was happening. Still no one could know that the future impact would be on our patients. It was only around the third days when we began to suspect the radiation damage. His thoughts drift: The enemy would have tested the bomb somewhere before they dropped the first one on Hiroshima, though the testing site went undetected. They must have been amazed by its power of destruction. Maybe, however, they might not have recognized clearly the radiation damage which would appear only several days after the injury. If they knew about it, they would have foreseen that Japan would understand the real horror they faced and would be obliged to surrender in one week or so. Nevertheless, the second one was dropped on Nagasaki only two days after the first one. They should have recognized, in theory, that the bomb would emit radiation, but they mightnot have sensed its real horror. Fujimura cannot imagine differently. His second inference kk reasons that America, being cautious about the Soviet Union, dropped one on Kyushu, which will be in their path. If it is the case, he thinks, Japanese may not die any more even if they become slaves. He dwells on this. “Soon, the patients in this island will be transferred to Kaida city, and we will have another duty.” “What kind of duty?” “Do what we can do, it’s epidemic prevention, isn’t it?” “Yeah, that’s right.” In the afternoon, he is transferred to the 23rd ward. He senses, as Muramoto told him, that the order is to stand by for the next duty. The 5 members of his unit have got their respective orders. Although he is to leave the wards where he has struggled desperately for about 6 days, he moves away to the 23rd ward without emotional attachment, as is the case without any information who will succeed him. “It is said that Marine Medical Corp will succeed your duty,” a messenger just tells him . 55
The head of the 23rd hospital ward is First Lieutenant Sugata. The 23rd hospital ward sits back from the site of the Quarantine Center, built on the highland, one of the three wards linedup and down on the slope behind the attached laboratory. More patients than Fujimura was in charge of before are still kept in this ward. But the members on duty are mainly from the squad of First Lieutenant Sugata, No.3 Quarantine Squad, such as Non-Coms and soldiers. They are real experts. Patients rooms arein good order. Fujimura has known these men from before he was posted in this quarantine center. When he was with another unit, having deployed to Nishinomiya and Kobe, A type typhus was broke out frequently almost beyond the control of his unit. He was helped by the squad of First Lieutenant Sugata several times. They also seem to be aware that Fujimura is in the transit on his way to another duty. They welcome him with smiles. “Sir, please take a good rest here. We can manage almost everything.” “Where is the First Lieutenant?” he asks one of sergeants. “As usual, over there, after all he is an eager researcher.” He points to the roof of the laboratory, seen through the window. “Unbeleivable, in the midst of this mess, what he is studying?” “Well, he asked me to search fort a fertilized egg. So it could be the culture of a kind of virus that he is keen on now,” he says in an emotionless tone. The Non-Coms of this squad are all first class hygienic experts. “Salute!” Suddenly, a voice comes from the entrance. All stand up like springoperated dolls. It is Major Takasaka, adjutant of the Vessel Medical unit who is striding in, with his tall boots making noise on the floor. The major, approaching Fujimura without a word, suddenly slaps him across the face. “You! You’ve brought everything here, haven’t you! You didn’t think of your successors and how they would be able to work, did you?” The major shouts abruptly. “Medicine, hygienic materials, washing bowls, two long forceps, hand-made out of bamboo I have left everything there.” “How about other tools?” “One 2cc syringe and surgical knives are from the Army Medic Pack. I cannot give them to anybody even if I die.” The major looks around inside the room in evident frustration and strides out. “Incredible, he tries to get on the hospital boat bringing nothing but 56
clothes on his bare back,” “Do you expect old nurse welcomes you with smile? Stupid!” Non-coms curse him, behind his back, loudly enough to be heard. It was just one month ago when the Vessel Medical Unit, headed by Major-Colonel Ota landed on this island. Army medics are trained in a respective vessel medical unit when they are posted to a vessel medical corps. Major-colonel Ota and Major Takasaka have been warmly welcomed on the island since they, as well as Major Hirota, the skipper of the unit of Fujimura and his colleagues, are their instructors. There is another story going around that Hirota’s Unit has yielded the main office of the quarantine center to the newcomer and moved to the office of the stable. The Medics are working under a mentoring relationship and accepted it with less resistance. However, the non-coms of the two units are overtly hostile to each other, holding a grudge against such an arrangement. There is also a fundamental difference on the medical care arrangements between the two units explaining why they cursed Major previously. In addition, all the facilities and the materials of the quarantine center are administrated by Fujimura’s unit. He can sort of understand the explosion of frustration by Major Takasaka. Fujimura imagines: He may reckons that this release of frustration against him may be heard about by Major Hirota, an the equal in the hierarchy. Fujimura, stroking his face, slapped for the first time in a year, says: “It’s good to say old nurse.Old Nurse.” He jokes, and leaves thenon-coms, still arguing among themselves. No.13 ward remains as it was when he was in charge. Three to four patients who suffer from oral ulcers seem to have no significant changes. An intern officer crouches on the stairs three steps high at the exit of the big room in the west end. Fujimura looks down at the intern officer’s back. Feeling its obstinacy, he swallows his words to him and gets out of the ward. It seems that he has been crouching on the stairs, sulking, for more than two hours. If that man started doing what he was supposed to, he could have addressed his problems and asked Sergeant Major Kasuya or other NonComs, circulating for the necessary materials within the space of one or two hours To keep on sitting in a sulk is no different than being asleep. The man’s back tempts him to say, like the other Non-Com said, “Idiot!” Fujimura sees Miss Nagai at the end of the West building. She seems to anticipate him passing by. “Mr. Surgeon, Thank you very much for you care. I would like to leave here by the evening. Is it OK?” “Yes, I think it’s OK. But you told me that your house had burned down. Do you have any place to stay?” “Yes sir, I am told that the annex of the house of my boyfriend’s sister 57
in the back of Ibi town is available for us.” “That means, you are going to marry with him, aren’t you? Congratulation!” She nods modestly, her pale face turning slightly to pink. The Non-Coms in the 23rd ward know that Fujimura has not slept well since the 6th ofAugust and prepare a jury-rigged bed for him. After lights out time at 9 o’clock, one of the Corporals guides him to the room where the bed is. “Sorry, it’s not so clean, but it’s pretty calm here.” It is a small narrow room, like a mezzanine in the warehouse of bedding nd bedclothes, connected to the laboratory, where a narrow bed for a soldier stands alone in the center. There are no sheets or pillowcases It’s not exactly the lap of luxury. Anyway, he can sleep on the bed for the first time after a full five days. Fujimura falls asleep right after he lays down on the bed. Fujimura feels that he has heard, may be twice, a baby crying, and wakes up. He thinks that he has slept for long time. But the night in summer does not seem to dawn yet. Again, he hears a baby crying. He hears it clearly from his lower right. On the wall to the right side of his bed, he finds a glass window one ken (180cm) square. A dim light seems to come from the bottom. When the Corporal brought him to this room, he thought there was nothing in it and he didn’t recognize there was a window there. Fujimura carefully leaves the bed and slowly approaches the window. He sees a wooden floored room about half the size of a school gym. The ceiling seems to be as high as the room where he slept. Being close to the window he looks down, getting on his knees. Two lamps hung from the ceiling are covered with black cloth as is the case everywhere nowadays. The floor is lit up faintly in round pools with a diameter of little bit less than one ken, reflecting the shape of the lower lamp cover. Under the light, are fourpairs of mothers and their babies, with an old woman accompanying them. When the baby cries, its mother lets the baby suckle from her breast. The old woman, beside them holds down their daipers and makes up their beds. He drinks in the view of mothers and babies as if he is a gallery viewing them on the dusky stage. It is not certain how many pregnant women were brought here since the 6th ofAugust. Many children were reported to have been spontaneously aborted. What if, say, three hundred women all abort without exemption? He worries that even mothers are saved, if more atomic bombs are dropped, it will be mathematically impossible for Japanese to survive. Finally, finding their way to this island in shrieks of helpless agony, 58
alone, without any belongings, surrounded by many who have had miscarriages, four mothers safely gave the birth to their babies. Who knows how many atomic bombs may be dropped on the country from now on. Despite this, he is , convinced that some mothers will give birth to their babies and that the lamplight of the race should continue to be secured even faintly. In the gloom, kneeling, Fujimura stares down at the mother and her baby. Without wiping away the tears unconsciously coursing down his cheeks, he keeps on staring at them, never getting weary.
Capter Two 6. War Defeat Since the atomic bomb was detonated, in the morning of the 6th of August, on humankind for the first time in history, Hiroshima is estimated to have more than a hundred thousand citizens killed and more than three hundred thousand having lost their homes. Most of these victims have wounds somewhere. Even among those without wounds, many run a suddenly high fever and die one after another, having had oral ulcers followed by bleeding. Other than death by epistaxis ( blood running from the nose) and hemoptysis ( spitting blood), the victims suffer more and more from acute high fever, followed by diarrhea from twenty to forty times a day, then by emesis (vomiting), which rapidly breaks down the physical strength and die in one or two days. Physicians, giving treatment to the patients with scarce medical materials, at first suspect that they are suffering from dysentery (bloody flux), frequently spread in and outside of the country. They soon begin to suspect that the combination of symptoms may be unrelated the dysentery. Although having recognized this, people are more or less obliged to live in groups, and most of the people in the ward are malnourished, thus are already functioning in the lower depths, being strained to the breaking point. The Such situation implies all the elements which warn of the risk of the explosive growth of the disease to precisely those in the quarantine operation who are most afraid of such risk, should some of the patients with a high fever, bloody stool be proven to be affected by the dysentery. Besides, the local administration that should protect citizens from such risk has totally collapsed and would require considerable time to be reestablished. The Headquarters of the Chugoku Brigade has also collapsed. Instead, the Shipping Battalion got the order to maintain security. To cope with the grave situation, the commanding medical staff decided to throw Hirotaâ€™s unit out of Marine Quarantine Division as they remained undamaged. Lieutenant Muramoto, leader of No.4th Quarantine squad, having received the order from Major Hirota, Director of the Marine Quarantine Division immediately calls Second Lieutenant Surgeon Egami and Sergeant Major Medic Kasuya. He orders them to contact the Marine Medical Division and the Quarantine Division of Hiroshima City and find out where they can assess the situation of the river head area of Hiroshima city, to accommodate about thirty soldiers, as well as setting up the laboratory for bacteria examination, in some place like school building. 60
Second Lieutenant Egami has just been recalled the previous day from his mission supporting the infirmary in the city. Sergeant Major Kasuya has rushed around the island since the 6th ofAugust, having performed as the Liaison Officer for the Headquarters. However, they leave the island early in the morning of the12th of August on the liaison boat, by the order of Lieutenant Muramoto. Upon arrival at Ujina port, they follow the long landing bridge to the quay, along which the buildings of the Headquarters of Shipping Battalion lay in-line. They visit the Army Medical Division at the corner of those buildings and ask about the situation of the aid centers set up in various facilities in the city. Most of the aid centers have already consumed their stock of oral and external medicines. They seem to have no means to tackle radiation injuries, though for few days now all its symptom is visible. Here again, hair at first begins to fall out, soon oral ulcers appear, then fever. In one or two days the bleeding grows inits intensity, having first appeared as bleeding under the skin. This is followed by bleeding gums, nose bleeding, coughing spiting blood, on top of vomiting blood, bloody feces, and genital bleeding for women. When the patients start bleeding in such ways, they acutely lose their physical strength and are led to death. Among the symptoms, bloody feces, is the most serious. Patients with fevers of more than 38 degrees are suffering from continuous bloody feces, twenty to forty times a day. They vomit a sort of yellowish liquid at the end and die with no exemptions. The symptoms look like the fulminating potentially fatal type of dysentery marked by severe bleeding, but displayed less tenesmus, (painful spasms of the anal sphincter) or mucous-laced feces. Although these symptoms could also be attributed as the cause of the loss of physical strength, the majority of Aid Center physicians in the city think they belong to one of the categories for Atomic Bomb Injury, defined by the Army Hospital. On the other hand, the fact can’t be ignored that the asymptomatic dysentery is found everywhere in the country. They can’t completely renounce the concern that such dysentery might instead be prevailing among the citizens because they’ve been forced to live in a group under the extreme situation. Neither should their suspicion be excluded: As the autopsy report of Professor Tsuzuki demonstrated, acute bloody feces, nose bleeds, coughing blood, genital bleeding as the result of atomic bomb injuries, a patient with such possibility to bleed from any part of the body might bleed from more sensitive part, which could be, in case of dysentery or typhus, bleeding from the intestinal ulcer, conducive to blood feces. The city, in the midst of extreme confusion, did not seem to have the possibility to provide any aid facility available to conduct a bacteria test. Second Lieutenant Egami and his staff, having been briefed on the 61
actual situation at the Shipping Army Medical Division at Ujina port, take beat-up bicycles brought onthe ferry boat and ride through the town, full of dead bodies, burned building materials strewn everywhere, and arrive at City Hall. All they do is confirm that no quarantine activity has started. They struggle to ride in the center of the damaged area and continue their trip further north along the Otagawa river. They leave the burned out area in the north ofYokokawa and continue northward on the west bank of the main stream of the Otagawa river. Green rice fields stretch all around, dotted by some shabby farm houses . They gradually close up to each other to become a village. It is mentioned as Nagatsuka Mura on the map. The two military men see a building, probably of an elementary school, on the other side of the village. They come down from the bank and follow the lane toward the school building. A shrine with spacious grounds under pine trees growing luxuriantly attracts them, as somewhere they can take a rest. The name Fuyuki Shrine is curved on a stone monument. The shrine has a spacious hall of worship, also used as a Kaguraden, with balconies wrapping around. The lane they have taken comes down on the slope of the bank of the river and curves gently into the green rice field. A narrow drain along the east of the shrine flows beside the lane. The lane is separated in front of the shrine gate; one way extends to the right, where 4 to 5 farm houses are lined up, then meets another lane at right angles, which goes west, apparently behind the shrine. On the lane, to the right of the shrine gate, they see new wooden constructions across the narrow green rice field. One is a house which does not look like a farm house. Their attention is drawn to the building behind the house. It looks like a small plant, a subcontractor of the munitions factory in the region. The owner was able to find some space in the rice field area here and has moved together with his family next to his plant. Moreover, the building, obviously a family-run plant, has its entrance wide open, showing only broad new floor, lacking any sign of equipment, and is exposed to the breeze from the green rice field.
Fuyuki Shrine(Photo was taken by Hiromi Suzumura in August 2009.)
“Sergeant Kasuya, go to that house first and check the purpose of the plant. I will look around the shrine and will join you there later,” Second Lieutenant Egami instructs him, and they stand up. He goes around to check the two old houses behind the shrine and arrives at the house on the shrine’s east side.. He finds Sergeant Kasuya talking to the housewife, who is kneeling on the veranda that faces the shrine in front. He guesses the building behind the house is waiting for several manufacturing machines to be set up. They are told that the delivery time for those machines is unknown due to the “Pica-Don”(atomic bomb) having been dropped on the city. “By the order of the Commander of the Shipping Division under Defense Headquarters at Hiroshima, the building behind this house shall be used for an operation. Tomorrow an officer concerned with this will visit you. You will be advised of the details by him” Second Lieutenant Egami declares in a high-handed way, then asks her, “Who is the representative of the shrine in front?” “I don’t know. The ward mayor lives behind the shrine. You can ask him.” Egami and Fujimura go across the corn field behind the shrine call the mayor. Egami, in his military style, announces to him that the shrine shall be used for the requirements of Defense Headquarters. Such announcement in the name of martial law to use vacant facilities obliges these two private citizens to say nothing in protest. Such practices in Japan at the time are typical. Such has been the customary practice since the feudal times, between samurai and townspeople, and continues until Japan is thoroughly defeated in the War. Second Lieutenant Egami merely follows the traditional rules and “gives one kick” in order to rescue the citizens of Hiroshima from their distress. The two of them scout the area until the summer sun goes down and head back the same way they came. On their way back south through the site of the atomic bombing , they see on the surface of the river, a tide coming in, to the Hiroshima delta. The dead bodies having floated down-stream by the ebb tide are slowly flowing upriver again. It’s like the deads have a grudge that lead them to wander back to their home which have disappeared without trace. Soldiers on the boats are picking up these dead bodies here and there. They struggle intensely to get back to Headquarters at Ujina Port, passing through ruins stretching 8 kilometers east-west, 6 kilometers north-south, and burned streets around the ruins. The corrupt smell of the dead bodies is flowing out from everywhere. 63
In the evening gloom, open fires cremate here and there the dead bodies found in the mass of rubble, filling all around with the odor particular to burning dead bodies, mixed with the corrupt smell of the corps. It can really be called,” The town of death in the evening gloom.” It is, however, a reality that there are as many living people as the dead, who are dully working around. They arrive at the Medical Division after the sunset and ask their colleagues to prepare the formalities for the requisition of the shrine and factory beside the shrine. They sleep at the liaison office of the quarantine center on the quay side and return to the island next morning. Lieutenant Muramoto, listening their report, calls Fujimura and some Non-Coms. Nominating Fujimura as the chief to form the party in charge of lodging dozen of Non-Coms and soldiers, he orders him to go ahead to set up lodgings at the shrine and the bacteria test laboratory of the factory which Second Lieutenant Egami has procured. The men rush off like suddenly startled birds. Lieutenant Muramoto delivers to the respective Non-Coms the planning papers which he prepared in the previous day and orders to start preparation immediately. First, the bedding for all members is to be counted. Mosquito nets are also required since it is mid summer. Cothes are all provided for each soldier. But he is allowed to carry one small green bag for the individual belongings. Its capacity is limited to put one pair of underwear, enough only because it is summer, a toilet kit, plus a camping pot. The party, therefore, has to share materials and equipment as much as they can. Food is supposed to be procured on the spot as much as possible. But the party at least has to carry rice and seasonings. The most important item to bring is a complete set of equipment for the bacteria testing laboratory. In addition, consumable goods, such as agar and peptone count as vital items Furthermore, they are told that still many patients wait for their arrival. The party works their guts out to complete the preparation, urgent to leave the island, and to discharge a considerable volume of their cargo on the quay of Ujina port and to store this at the liaison office on the opposite side of the road on the quay. It is past 9 o’clock in the evening when all the work is completed. Some are busy with preparing the supper. Others are busy pouring water over their heads to keep the sweat off. After things have calmed down, the soldiers have supper and settle themselves in the room to sleep. It is already 11 o’clock at the night. One small room on the first floor has been set aside for Fujimura and Kasuya. The house seems to be the warehouse of an old fish dealer, having been constructed rugged enough to resist the strong sea wind: Thick timbers 64
have been used for pillars and transoms. The thick pillar in the wall of the west side of the room has got a new crack above the transom. A gap of about 1 cm between wall and pillar can be seen lengthwise. Even such a sturdy house like this one has been knocked about by the strong atomic blast pressure from the north. It is located at least 6 km to the south from the center of the explosion. Fujimura imagines how fierce the blast was around here, compared with the one he experienced on the island, another 3 km to the south from the quay. “An order is circulating that an important message will be broadcast at noon tomorrow and that everyone should listen to it. I don’t know if it is true or not but I heard that His Majesty Supreme Marshal will speak on theradio. What could he say?” “It might be about the Hundred Million Deaths for Honor.” Non-Coms are chattering about this in the next room. Some one lets out a big yawn. Fujimura falls fast asleep, letting their chattering pass in the air. He and his party in charge of lodging left the island for the city on the 14th ofAugust, around the time when the order to listen to the broadcast was issued, passing another rescue party who was returning from the city to the island. Fujimura was not aware of the broadcast order until now. “Chug! Chug! Chug!” He is wakened by the noise of the hot bulb engines of the coastal vessels. It is little bit past 5 o’clock in the morning. He goes to the washroom downstairs. First Private Watanabe has just finished his wash. “Good morning.” The lawyer in a Japanese yukata salutes in a local way, like a normal citizen, not in the military way.i “Good morning.” They exchange private salutes and go out on the street to the quay. They are both in yukatas – Japanese summer kimonos with their towels around the necks just coming out of their bedrooms. Such style would not be accepted in the garden of the barracks. With the exception of Fujimura, First Private Watanabe would be beaten up if found like this. The two men stand still on the quay and drink in the scenery of the sea at dawn. The sky over the cloud topping on Mount Tanzan forming the east side of the bay of Hiroshima starts brightening up. Morning mist faintly drifting on the Seto Inland Sea is gradually clearing away. The surface of the sea is coloring in bright emerald green in the mid summer morning. The two men sit in silence in the morning sunshine. “Wake-up!” They hear the command from the liaison office and noises of people preparing for the day. 65
Immediately, they hurry back to the office. It is scheduled that the wake up is at 5: 30 and a truck from the head quarter arrives at 7:00. All, regardless of being soldiers or Non-coms, are busy in completing their duties, finishing breakfast and cleaning the rooms in the office. They load all materials on the truck, arriving 5 minutes earlier than scheduled and rush to get on the rear deck. The truck takes the north road along the east bank of the Kyobashi River, instead of the usual tram way street through the city center , still not available for traffic since the explosion. On the riverbank on the left side of the road, they see many small shipyards. All the steel pillars of the factories, as if by a common consent, lean toward the south.As they do north, they increasingly find many houses with their roofs blasted off. The wooden houses on the right side of the road are more severely damaged than the shipyards. From 500 meters north onwards, all houses have completely collapsed. The lumber from the houses has been left piled up, covered by dirt, as if it had once flown up and mobbed up the sky, and then been flung down on the earth. A strong rancid smell of dead bodies comes out from everywhere around. On their way passing over the Miyuki Bridge, they see burned ruins all around them. Only everything else is burned out. Fujimura has often seen the bomb sites hit by fire bombs in the Hanshin area, which have completely different features than what he is seeing now. In Hanshin, the warehouses constructed from wood and mud remained in the burned ruins everywhere, while nothing is left here. Here, moreover, the flat ruins generate the rancid smell of the decomposed bodies from every direction. Their truck advances in the midst of the burned ruins for a while, then slightly turns to the west and crosses two rivers. He recognizes on the map that they are main streams of the Motoyasu and Ota rvers. â€œNan-mandabu,Nan-manndabu.â€™â€™ Fujimura hears this Buddhist chant at his feet while he is preoccupied with how to drive the party in the right direction, standing in the truck bed with his army rucksack bound to the cab. It is the two old private second class soldiers - the only two soldiers in the party -, who are praying facing the river, leaning out of the side panel of the bed. A tremendous number of blackened corpses are lying in the shallow bottom of the river at the ebb tide and on the dried up riverbed. The two old soldiers are recruits called up from the mountainous Lyo region. 66
Fujimura, having had a hard experience as a fresh recruit a year and a half ago, is sympathetic to those who are obliged to spend their military life among men younger than 30 years of age and Non-Coms - who make up more than half of this unusual unit. The wisdom of their age, however, seems to help these two manage themselves smartly among the difficult soldiers. Anyway, he is freshly impressed, listening to them praying “Nan-mandabu,” something that he has not heard since he was called up to the army. He has not yet asked them where they worked during the multiple days of overwhelming shrieks of helpless agony on Ninoshima Island. He is driven by the feeling to listen to them, these half-bared heads, and to find out how they worked and how they felt in those days. Approaching the separation point between Ota River’s main stream and the Motoyasu River, the colour of the ruins turns more whitish while up until now it has been quite blackish . The big stone pillar gate of the Gokoku Shrine has been reduced to a mere two stone pillars. The gigantic tree which once covered the shrine garden has been torn off in the middle of its trunk as if it was chopped off by a sharp blade. Its sharp top edge juts straight toward the sky. 600 meters high in the sky from its edge, the first atomic bomb in the human history detonated. The round dome nearby which used to be called the Dome of the Chamber of Commerce by the soldiers is now a bizarre blackish round skeleton of steel bones, pointing skyward. This bizarre dome-like ruin in the centre of the burned remains of Hiroshima can be seen from everywhere. It, together with Mount Akikofuji on Ninoshima Island, provides the navigation point for citizens of Hiroshima having turned into a dead city. Their truck passes Sanyo Line to the east ofYokokawa Station. The post office has been burned down. Only steel bones are left from the ceiling of the platform. Two to three trains are completely burned out and have been abandoned on the rails. In between, two locomotives spewing out steam are changing train tracks and switching carriages. After the rail crossing east of the station, a vivid green rice field soon comes peacefully into their sights. The green spreads out on their way under the mid summer sunshine and gives them an unexpected contrast against the view they have seen so far in the city. Meanwhile, the duties and actions that they must deal with immediately on the arrival at the destination are also waiting for them. The truck stops in front of the factory, which has been formally commandeered by the military. All of the truck’s cargo is immediately unloaded and brought into the factory and shrine . Fujimura, after checking the floor of the factory planned to be the bacteria inspection office, heads to the shrine. He passes under the shrine gate. A big pine tree casts dark shadows on the large shrine garden, beyond which he sees three buildings: the small temple at the west end and the 67
bigger one in the centre were apparently constructed before the Meiji era, showing mixed features of Buddhism and Shintoism. The tallest shrine pavilion to the east end has a typical modern Shinto appearance. The stone paved approach from the pavilion goes straight to the south, from where Fujimura sees the green rice field extending to the bank of Ota river, further overlooking Mount Tanzan, the slope of which comes down to the northern hill of Hiroshima city. The southern surface of the mountain, seen from the city centre where they have passed through, has been scorched by the colossal fire, which has changed the colour of the surface from deep green to reddish brown. But his current position allows him to see only a view of Mount Tanzan covered fully by green, the view of a quite ordinary mid summer mountain range continuing to the east. Some disaster victims are already under the shadow of pine trees at west side of the approach, waiting for the treatment. In a flash moment however, their numbers increase, making the long line waiting row continueing all the way to out side of the shrine gate. Fujimura instructs 4 Non-Coms and some soldiers who are preparing the bedding in the pavilion to take care of the victims. He leaves all the work for the settlement to Sergeant Kasuya and concentrates on the treatment of various victims symptoms until 11:50, the time the are scheduled to assemble in the garden of the factory owner’s house to listen to the Emperor, the Supreme Marshal of Japan. Before noon, all form up in front of the radio, set on the veranda of the house. Ordinary citizens have never heard the voice of the Emperor. Due to the terrible noise in the broadcast, they feel only the majestic sound of his voice but do not understand at all what he is talking about. Only one phrase, however, is clearly heard by all: “Enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.” Everyone, in formation standing in full gear under the heat of midsummer looks stunned, and completely dumbstruck. ”Break-Up!” from the cry of Fujimura they all break formation, rush into the shrine garden and change into their summer uniforms. Having finished his lunch, Fujimura takes a rest under a tree. Two Non-Coms who kept listening to the radio after the break rush back and report to him. “The broadcast we heard was to declare Japan’s unconditional surrender. The voice of Prime Minister Suzuki afterward was much clearer to listen to.” “It’s just as I expected.” Saying this, Fujimura slumps down without a word. Corporal Konishi suddenly starts crying out loudly. All the others follow him and cry, babbling out nonsense. Lowering his eyes, Fujimura’s tears drop in silence, but suddenly he comes back to himself. 68
“I can’t sit around.” He thinks this, even while slumping down, but he has no idea at all what to do. Dozens of young men sit under the trees, being unable to move, lowering their eyes, with the exception of Corporal Konishi, still crying loudly. First Private Watanabe imperceptibly approaches to Fujimura, still sitting cross-legged with his eyes lowered down, and whispers in his usual tone. “Mr. Surgeon, it’s already enough, isn’t it?” He cannot instantly understand what this means. “What is already enough?” Watanabe smiles at him, looking up in a dubious manner, and points to the pavilion of the shrine. He thinks that we can stop the set-up operation now on going, since the unconditional surrender is confirmed. He wishes to say so. With no idea how to reply, Fujimura looks wordlessly at the pavilion Watanabe is pointing at. Feeling a furious anger gush out of him, Fujimura stands up to his full height and shouts, “All stand up. Line up!” The soldiers are surprised by his shouting, but immediately stand up and form themselves in two lines in front of Fujimura. “Take off your all your uniforms except your loincloths. Take off your army hats. Wrap your heads with your towels!” Being stunned by Fujimura’s extraordinary manner, who hardly ever shouts at his soldiers, they follow his instruction to strip naked except for their loincloths and with towel around their heads. “Good! Right face! On the double!” Following Fujimura who starts running first, they run out on the approach of the shrine, pass the shrine gate and run through the lane between the green rice fields. Crossing over the bank, they continue following Fujimura keeping on running only to jump into the clear stream of the Ota River to the depth of their shins and rush into its centre .
7. Disease Infects a Brother in Arms. Sitting cross-legged on the coarse sand on the bottom of the river, the clear water flows at the navel height at an unexpected high speed. Signs of small fish, ayu or haya, course from time to time in the water. The river displays a slight turbulence far downstream, curves gently to the left and seems to approach the meeting points of several rivers that form the Hiroshima delta. Around there should be the burnt ruins they passed through earlier but which cannot be seen from the surface of the river. On the other side of the bank, the ridge of Mount Tanzan closes in that separates the city centre from its suburban area. The road seems to extend along the bank, where they can observeoverview the three wheels of motorcycles, passing by once in a while, rolling up sand clouds. The guys that followed Fujimura enjoy fresh water for a while in silence to pacify their sweat. Soon Sergeant Major Kasuya stands up, calls some guys and goes back to the shrine with them. He seems to be the first one who has recovered from the shock of the war defeat. “Hey, daddy-o, have you any news from your wife. She worries about you, doesn’t she?” a Corporal says, rudely, to one of the old soldiers. Their age difference is like that between father and son. The two men start talking while all the others fall silent, being bored by the river. “Just the other day, I got a parcel from her.” “It’s good. But daddy-o, you told me the other day you can’t read even though you’ re still a mail carrier. How did you figure out the parcel is from your wife?” “ Don’t worry, Corporal. In her parcel, she puts sheets of toilet paper, then she puts a grain of bean on them. It’s not difficult for me to identify it.” All burst out laughing, and foolaround splashing water on each other. It’s more or less a usual reaction. Moving down stream in a mess, someone starts singing: ♪ “Ah ah, at this same time. My comrades are. In the midst of the smoke of the artilleries and the shower of bullets!, Forward, forward, again forward! You fight, getting all muddy!” ♪ The song builds to the chorus involving everybody and continues to sound on the stream. Soldiers love singing for any reason, in sorrow and in joy, or when they’re drunk. When someone starts singing, all the others join him to sing. The song that they are singing is the song of a soldier who comes back home from an overseas battlefield, leaving his comrades behind. Soldiers like this song, which reflects their sentiments, and sing it in chorus from 70
time to time. Immediately recovering from the shock of the war defeat, soldiers start singing this song first. Fujimura can share such feelings with them as if they were his own since he spent a year and a half on an overseas battlefield, just as a soldier. In short, the sentiments of the Non-coms and soldiers are now nothing to do with the future of Japan nor in general how the world might be. Their preoccupation is only to quit as soon as possible the current position as soldier which they have been bound by so far. Fujimura feels the same. He, however, faces the imminent issue how to behave himself from now on, managing dozens of soldiers, who have up until now been bound and united under the absolute obedience rule. He considers only that it is not something he should particularly worry about, but that he should wait for the leader of the squad, Muramoto, who is to arrive here on time this evening and follow his orders. Nevertheless, he remembers what his seniors in the army told him during his intern officer days, their experiences when they led small group in the difficult circumstances, being isolated from their squads. He remembers that their stories contained good lessons on how to act as a leader. He gets anxious then about his comrades with whom he lived on the overseas battlefields. They must be totally surrounded by the enemy now. How will they act? What waits for them? He suddenly feels that he canâ€™t stand still as he is now. --But what I can do as an intern officer is limited. I may start only from what I can do nowâ€” He re-discovers himself in his habitual thought pattern, stands up, and returns to the shrine, leading groups of tens of his soldiers. On the grounds of the shrine, there are already many patients waiting in line for the treatment, just as in the morning. The work of the settlement of the team is also suspended. Without a word Fujimura starts the treatment. Others, looking at him, seem to realize that they have nothing to do but to continue their work. Otherwise, they will have neither dinner nor a place to sleep this evening. The bacteria test laboratory is now completed, leaving the preparation of the culture medium for tomorrow, without any concrete plan for the day. Preparation of the dinner and the bedding is being done. When they finish their dinner, the long summer day is about to draw in. It is a really long day. The 15th ofAugust, the 20th year of Showa, 1945 Fujimura believes that he will never forget this day as long as he lives. Sitting on the east-south corner of the corridor around the three sides of the pavilion, Fujimura sees the soldiers busy cleaning up after dinner. The evening breeze blows from time to time over the rice field being gradually enveloped in the evening gloom. Feeling the fresh air, Fujimura recalls without any context what happened over the nearly two years of his life in the military, which seems like a long time but has passed quickly. He also recalls that, whether he was conscious or not, he has been 71
side by side with death each day. Under the indigo blue of the gradually deepening twilight, one light flashes suddenly on the horizon. One electric lamp lights up the evening gloom. His eyes turn toward the light and find that it comes from the room of the neighboring house. The doors of the veranda are open wide. The light, shaped in a rectangle, coming from the form of the doors of the veranda, comes up in the dusk of evening. Then, the lights come up one after another from the houses nearby, and, increase around there. Until last night, people were used to enjoyinga cool evening breeze only in the darkness.The long, dark war is over,,,, The lights come on one after another in an odd and timid manner as if it were at last recalled in their minds. The lights are spreading. At nine o’clock, at the lights-out, they follow the evening attendance as usual. They hear military song playing in the village: ♪Soldiers, are you already in the bed? Do you sob also tonight in your bed? ♪ It seems it’s a young villager who plays taps, his routine, on the night of the war defeat. It sounds, however, somewhat drowsier and fades away in a feeble afterglow. A residency permit for outside the barracks (for quasi-officers and above) allows Fujimura and Sergeant Major Kasuya to rent a room at the residence of the factory owner. The housewife receives them in her sulky face, completely different from this morning and guides them to the back room. He interprets in her face regret that she shouldn’t have promised to give rooms to the defeated soldiers. The radio, which is most likely on the cabinet or something similar behind the sliding door separating their bedroom and the living room, is broadcasting noises, pi- pi-, ga- ga-. At this time, it is the comments of the key figures on the end of the War. Suddenly this changes to information about a US airplane formation, coming up from the south and blares the air raid alert as if they are still in wartime. A young man starts screaming. The broadcasts now begin talking about how to behave after the war defeat. It’s unclear if such information is originating from Osaka or Tokyo. Everything seems to be in a state of extreme confusion. Early morning the next day, the line of patients waiting stretches into the shrine garden. Most are suffering from minor injuries, except one old man brought in on a two wheel cart, driven by an old woman, his wife. They live nearby in a barn attached to their relative’s house. He has a suppurated injury on the upper side of his left hand. The surrounding area of the injury is infected and swollen up and brown all the to under the elbow of his left arm . The swollen part crackles when pushed. 72
This is the first time Fujimura has seen this kind of infection, though he learned about it at army medical college. It could be gas gangrene. Blood serum is usually included in the portable bag for army surgeons. The disease is often observed in the soldiers who have to stay for a long time in the trenches. Fujimura is filled with pity, trying to imagine how the old couple has lived in the barn. He injects the blood serum into the under the skin of the upper arm of the patient in a circular manner. “If your arm continues to swell above this circle, you should immediately consult a surgeon to cut off your injured arm. Otherwise you will have no hope to survive.” His advice, however, does not seem to motivate the couple. He senses that the old man and his wife have no intention of seeking out the surgical operation in order to survive. They look weak and helpless. He is told that farmers in the area are taking in relatives who have been exposed to the bomb in the city and that some of them already show symptoms of radiation damage and are being treated by practicing physicians nearby. During the morning, the soldiers are busy with the treatment of patients or with other remaining work for the set-up. Fujimura takes his men to the river again after lunch and lets them relax in the water and wash their clothes for about two hours in the high noon of mid summer, then returns to his job as in the morning, and continues at it until evening. Sergeant Major Kasuya is back from his mission, bringing some new non-coms. He returned to the Island early in the morning to collect the hygiene materials and some others, out of stock, as well as to report the situation to the Headquarters. The new Sergeant Major declares that he has received orders to join the team, adding: “The First Lieutenant will come here tomorrow.” After dinner, Fujimura relaxes just like the night before, at the southeast side of the corridor. “On the island, many gathered in the officers meeting room on the hilltop and were discussing something loudly, though I don’t know what the issues were. I saw some officers who didn’t wear the mark of the shipping legionary,” Kasuya begins saying, approaching him. “Today there are about three million military men and employees still at overseas bases. It will take, they say, nearly five years to bring them back to Japan, even using all the ships that remain in the country. We may be transferred to the Ministry of Health and may take care of the quarantine operation for the returning soldiers. I am not the eldest son in my family and may not have a proper place there. So I have submitted my request for such a post. How about you, sir?” “Well, I am here, being detached to the Shipping Information 73
Regiment for a long term duty operation. Normally, I should return to the original regiment, then I may expect my next assignment. Anyway, according to the rumour brought by somebody from the village yesterday, the circumstances now seem to be different .” “All men will be castrated and all women will become prostitutes, won’t they? Ridiculous!” The two guys burst out laughing. Non-coms occupy the stairs from the centre of the pavilion. They are, as usual, randomly discussing what awaits them in the near future, mixing in some juicy stories. A bright electric lamp has been newly set up during the day beside the stone-paved entrance way to the pavilion. The children from the village and soldiers are playacting under the lamp, which looks sort of like one from a village festival. “Today, the radio says when the Americans arrive an International Tribunal will be established and war criminals will be tried.” “To what level will they be tried?” “I’m not sure, but the officers may be all tried.” “How about us, the non-coms?” “We have nothing to do with such things. Only Konishi may have a risk as he is a genuine Corporal.” “Konishi? No use to put such a stupid idiot on trial.” The non-coms are talking loudly and burst out laughing from time to time. Fujimura knows well that their jokey talks often include a certain truth. “Am I going to bunk downhere, joining Tazaki’s group?” Fujiumura asks Kasuya. Tazaki, the intern officer of the veterinary section in the same barrackwith him, is very cordial to everyone, but is a committed pacifist. He used to tell his comrades that he wanted to steal a military horse when the island got involved in a battle and flee deep into the mountains in the Tajima or Tanba region, after having got across the sea. He even half-openly attempted to instigate his comrades and drew up the plan, “ In such case, you know, the team should be composed from those who are similar in their physical strength as well as in their thought,” so he said to Fujimura. “I have been posted in Manila and in Saigon for a long time. I don’t fully agree with officer Tazaki, saying that the war is wrong. The people in the Philippines and in Indochina have never thought to fight back against white people. They are becoming confident, so I feel, that they can do also as we are doing, depending how the war goes. Sooner or later they will gain independence. The war we have started has opened their eyes. Those of us who have stayed there, share this view.” Kasuya presents his perspective, one completely different from that of 74
Tazaki. Fujimura thinks this could be one way of seeing the War. He feels like it might be a reason why the white people wish to open the international court. In the morning, Fujimura devotes himself completely treating patients, losing his sense of time. Somebody cries out to him. “Surgeon, the Captain is arriving.” He recognises, in the direction indicated by the medics, the short First Lieutenant Muramoto, approaching g the shrine through the narrow path in the rice field. “Line-up!” He gives the order then starts running towards Muramoto. Muramoto approaches him, smiling in good humor. He is in full gear, even wearing a raincoat, in such summer heat. “All is calm in the quartering party! The party will presently taking care of the treatment of the refugees from the city!” “Fine!” The First Lieutenant, giving the return salute, gets closer to Fujimura. “ Fuji chan, sorry I am late. Aren’t they upset?” He asks in a low voice to keep the talk private between them. “Well, some cried in the afternoon of the day before yesterday. I took them to the river to let them bask in the cool water in those two days. Now they’ve recovered.” “Oh, good. I am very anxious about you and your party. But it looks like the Commander attempted hara-kiri. We’re k keeping watch over him in turns, keeping away from his sword and gun.” “You’ve been through a lot. The Commander should have been completely stuck, disarmed by his tough men.” Continuing to, talk in a low voice, they come into the shrine garden where soldiers are lined-up. Fujimura, standing at the right edge of the line, reviews his report. First Lieutenant Muramoto instructs Fujimura to give the ”At ease,” order to his soldiers then he starts speaking to them calmly. “The war we have fought and devoted our lives to has ended in defeat. This is the wise decision of His Imperial Majesty, the Great Marshal. I am proud that you, the quartering party, have rigorously completed your duty in the midst of this confusion. Now you are to return to your hometowns. You have your own vocations. Those of us who, have the vocation of physician, cannot stand looking at the current miserable plight of the people in Hiroshima. We have decided to devote ourselves to helping them for a while. If you wish to return to your own duties as soon as possible you may leave here now. I’ll not interrupt you. If you think it’s OK to help us for a while, you will be most welcome.” Muramoto has only got so far into his speech when, Corporal Konishi, at the 5th position in the back row, suddenly topples over into a non-com in the front row, apparently due to cerebral anemia. Two men 75
beside him offer support quickly and take him in the shade. He is tough enough not to fall down easily. Cold sweat breaks out on his forehead from top of his head. His face goes pale. Fujimura touches the man’s forehead and feels a high fever. He takes the patient’s service cap off. He wipes his sweat away by a towel. He catches his breath in his throat when he sees the towel. Many short hairs have fallen out from his buzz-cut head and are attached to the towel. First Lieutenant Muramoto decides to let the man return to the island. By good chance the remaining soldiers have been transported here from the island by truck. Accompanied by four medics, Konishi rides on the truck. Fujimura is frightened to see “the thing to come has come.” Corporal Konishi was at the liaison office at the Port and was in charge of procurement of subsidiary foodstuffs. In the morning ofAugust 6th, he rode his bicycle to the market and was blown off by the bomb blast. Fortunately, he was able to return to the office without serious injury and soon came back to the island, having been replaced by his comrade. Muramoto says nothing special to anyone. Fujimura, as well as the others, also try to act casually. Acute radiation sickness has infected one of their comrades! No one wants to touch this fact that is also being touched by others. The immediate threat seems to be shared by all here. So Fujimura feels. In the afternoon, First Lieutenant Muramoto goes out to inspect the water reservoir area, taking Fujimura and 6 other non-coms. The party goes down along the bank of the Ota River branch where they enjoyed the fresh water during the last two days. They arrive at the quay for the river ferry. A few passengers are already onboard. The boatman, waiting leisurely for the party rushing down the bank, moves the river ferry forward with his pole for a while, kicking off the transparent river bottom. He firmly dunks the pole deep in the drop-off before reaching the opposite bank and gets the ferry to the quay in one stroke. As Fujimura passes the people waiting for the river ferry on the narrow path at the riverside a middle aged woman gives him a bow politely. “????” “She’s the mother of the child who came to see me for treatment the day before yesterday,” Fujimura briefly informs Muramoto, who is looking back at him curiously. “Ah ha, Doctor Fujimura seems to be getting popular around here” Muramoto laughs, brightly. They walk straight up the bank from the quay and follow the road between the river and the skirt of mountain. A short walk takes them to the water purifying plant of Hiroshima city in a small area of the mountain side. It is a thin, middle-aged, staff person who welcomes the party. He apparently carries some illness and looks exhausted. 76
“No disinfection has been carried out since one year ago. Chlorine has never been supplied,” he replies to First Lieutenant Muramoto, as if it were obvious. He explains as well that the water comes from the intake tower at around two kilometres upstream. The pools in line are filled with water, which is clear and seems to be drinkable as is. Water continues to flow to the pools in a parallel line with the first pool, then passes to the smaller pools in two lines, and is finally stored in the water reservoirs on the hill, via two tanks. The middle-aged staff person explains that the two tanks are for the chlorination of water but they have only held river water for more than one year. “The reservoir is located on the top of the hill. Yes sir, it is covered by concrete. Do you wish to go up? You can get a full view of the city.” The First Lieutenant instantly leans toward climbing the hill. It takes a little time to unlock the gate of the fence in front of them. Meanwhile, Fujimura gets discouraged about climbing the steep slope. “I feel sluggish. I’d like to stay here and wait for you,” he asks the First Lieutenant . Muramoto looks little bit worried about him, but immediately heads off such worries. “Ah, then take a rest for a while.” The soldiers start climbing the slope among the brush without him. Their footfalls soon vanish away. Fujimura is left alone, enveloped in the sound of wind, passing through the leaves and in the sound of water, splashing in the pool. He feels, being left alone, it necessary to find out why he suddenly wished to stay alone. He asked First Lieutenant Muramoto to allow him to stay alone because he felt sluggish. It was true that he was tired. He, however, recognizes instantly that it was not the only reason why he reacted so. Did he get irritated by the middle-aged staff person,for being slow to open the door of the fence? No. That was not it. He recognizes that he was shocked by the words: “No disinfection has been carried out since one year ago. Chlorine has never been supplied.” The faucets used for tap water have been exposed everywhere in the ruins of the city. The sufferers, in the midst of the summer heat, are turning on the exposed faucets and drinking tap water without any care. None consider any risk to drink the tap water automatically coming out of the faucet when they turn it on. No citizen of Hiroshima thinks to doubt the purity of the freely supplied tap water, even though their city is in a chaotic shambles. Surprisingly the water has not been disinfected for a year. “ But, wait,” he contemplates. 77
The water has never been disinfected since more than one year ago. Yet no reports of any epidemic of dysentery or typhus have circulated. After the disaster on August 6th, the situation around the citizens has changed dramatically but it does not seem to apply to the water supply. If anything has changed, it should havehappened only in the place where Lieutenant Muramoto has now gone to now check. Moreover, running water possesses an auto-purification effect. Unless massive microbes flow into the water, it won’t be necessary to worry too much about disease. When he reaches these conclusions, he feels a little relieved. In this season, the afternoon wind in the Hiroshima delta area usually blows from the sea to the land. Fujimura notices, however, since yesterday that the wind around this area where the river flows among the mountains swirls up from downstream. The cool wind, blowing up from the river, passing through the banks between the mountain skirts, is rustling the leaves. It is quite pleasant to feel the breeze, sitting under the leafy shade. Crouched under the shade of thetree, waiting for Lieutenant Muramoto, Fujimura wonders if his back looks like the steely back of the Non-com, who remained crouched on the stairs of the 13th ward and sulked for hours after Fujimura and his team left the ward. Voices come from the middle of the bushy steep slope, then Lieutenant Muramoto comes out. “Well, do you feel better?” “ Yes sir, I feel better now after having had a good breather for a while. I’m all right now.” “OK, then let’s go.” The lieutenant says nothing more, exits out the water purifying plant and starts striding over the mountain road upstream. “ Officer, are you really all right? If you wish to go back, I am pleased to accompanying you,” says, Private 1st class Watanabe, walking side by side with Fujimura. “Don’t worry. I’m doing OK.” Without reacting, Watanabe keeps on walking for a while and murmurs, “I wonder how Corporal Konishi is.” Konishi was the only one who kept on crying when their defeat in the war was announced. “Maybe he was already not in a good conditionbefore that time.” Fujimura remembers that the young lawyer who stood in front of him, smiling, while all the others were feeling down from the news of the defeat in the war, and told him pointing out the lodgement under quartering, “It’s already enough, isn’t it?” He is trapped by the unusual feeling of again hearing the voice of the lawyer, and having let out his worry about Corporal Konishi in a casual way. “Disgusting egghead.” Fujimura and Watanabe belong to those who were educated in the 78
university around the 15th year of Showa, the days when the colour of the democracy of the Taisho Era was fading out. Towards the end of their period of education, Japan largely relapsed into militarism. Half the young generation resisted, but were borne away helplessly by the wave of the times. Many died. Schoolage children at the end ofTaisho Era read the phrase in their textbook for the first grade: “ Kohei Kiguchi never abandoned his bugle from his lips even after he was killed.” They were forced to learn the text by rote. Some, at their age, however, used to say in junior high school: “That was just because of rigor mortis.” In this way, they got to sensitively sniff out those who shared the same way of thinking out of those who were opportunists going with times. Watanabe seems to never suspect that Fujimura is anything but the same species as him, and to drop his guard. Fujimura, on the other hand, after having had exceptional experiences since August 6th, has become sceptical about the value of the occidental way of thinking. He recognizes that his way of thinking or his way of feeling have changed and are now a little bit different from Watanabe’s positions. Watanabe is regarded by Fujimura only in the following sense: “Disgusting egghead.” Yet Watanabe and Fujimura truly and equally worry about the disease of Corporal Konishi.
8. Home Visit They follow the road along the skirts of mountain for a while. The road then leaves the river and leads them toward the centre of the village in a portion of field. Separated from the road, the lane continues along side of the river, leading to the intake tower. Lieutenant Muramoto points out the tower and orders Fujimura to go check it. First Private Watanabe, at the last end of row of the 8 soldiers, leaves the team and follows him as if it is natural to do so. An almost flat slope of grass extends to the riverside. Numbers of shallow cross-shaped holes are there. Pieces of charcoaled wood and ashes of straw remain in the holes. White pieces of, seemingly, human bones, are also recognizable in the ashes. On the day of the explosion, people, having escaped out of the burning city, reached here and died without being seen off by anybody, having fully enjoyed fresh water from the river. So he guesses. The villagers must have cremated the dead people in the evening. Fujimura stands still for a while and looks down the half collapsed cross shaped holes dug in the sands. The wind from the river blowing occasionally makes small swirls on the heated sand. It causes the ashes in the bottom of the hole to shudder faintly. From the bank, from a little bit higher than his place, stands a bridge of around 6 meters long. At the end of the bridge, there is a round stone tower in the depths of the river. A solid steel door is set at the entrance of the narrow bridge. The door is locked and is bound up firmly by steel wires, rusted up in red. It is clear from this that the door has remained closed these past months. After confirming the situation, Fujimura and Watanabe walk toward the village through the path in the field. First Private Watanabe sees, ahead of them, a peasant cultivating a sweet-potato patch. He approaches her, pushing potato vines away. He stands talking with her for a while and then comes back, pushing the vines away. “Just as I thought, she said a party of around 30 wounded soldiers passed here in the afternoon ofAugust 6th.” Hey kid, how come you’ve got all motivated all on a sudden? Fujimura curiously looks into his face, listening to him, nodding silently. “She says there is a stream flowing out of the mountain on the right, a little bit farther away from the village. At about 2 km along the stream, she says, there is a village called 80
Hesaka-mura. The wounded soldiers in the school building there are probably the party in question.” They hasten to the village. Muramoto, who has been listening to their report, has also got the same information. “Let’s go to see them, first.” He starts walking. After a while, they reach the stream flowing from a small mountain range on the right, which joins to the main stream through the valley. A small gravestone stands at the foot of a short bridge in their way. It reads “Hesaka-michi” in hiragana phonetics: “Way to Hesaka Village.” Passing the bridge, they walk onto the narrow road close to the cliff. They keep on walking for a while. A large basin stretches upward in front of them. The stream follows the valley to the left and the road continues upward among fields of a rich harvest colour. Illuminated by the afternoon sunlight, the visibly fairly rich village is gathered around the middle of the galcial slope of the basin. The village seems to extend toward mountain path beyond. They find the fairly large building of the elementary school to the right of the village entrance, with the mountain standing in the background. A path to the school gate follows alongside the mountain stream. The old one-story building is on a higher platform at the bottom of the schoolyard. They see some wounded soldiers wearing white clothes in front of the building. Lieutenant Muramoto proceeds to the front of the school entrance , while Fujimura follows the mountain stream beside the schoolyard and approaches the back of the building. It is a tactic particular to the quarantine party that the chief checks out the front and his subordinates make a casual approach from the back. Two wounded soldiers, chattering at the back of the building, give salutes in surprise to Fujimura, appearing from the rice field behind the school. Fujimura picks up a bedpan from one of the soldiers and checks it. He finds it cleanly washed. He gives a strong warning to the soldiers not to wash bedpans, briefing them that the little stream they’ve been using for washing joins to the stream from the other side of the mountain,and thenflows into the upper stream of the Ota river where the intake tower for the water supply toHiroshima city is located. Despite this, he doesn’t think they’ll respect his warning. From his experience of more than a year at the quarantine operation, he has bitterly realized that no matter what damage it causes others, most people will not change theircustoms easily as they feel more comfortable continuing as they have been doing. He turns around to the front of the building and finds Lieutenant Muramoto, talking to the lieutenant responsible for the party. They have got out the contagion ward of the military hospital. Most of the patients seem to 81
be already cured. Two are still suffering from dysentery. The lieutenant in charge understands correctly the request of Lieutenant Muramoto. He lets his medics dig a big hole beside the building, gives them strict orders to burn all contaminated materials only in the hole, and has them work accordingly in front of Muramoto. Leaving the school, Fujimoto reports to Muramoto what he has discovered behind the building and that he hesitated to point it out to the lieutenant in charge. â€œSome may listen to you, but some may work against you, right?â€? Muramoto does not seem to take his report seriously. Afterward, they visit the office of an agricultural corporative and the village office. It seems at first that no one is in the village office, though several calls have been made. To the contrary, an old man and a young man are found in their small office. They say that dysentery spread in the upper part of the village about three years ago but no sign of the disease in these one or two years. The 8 members of the party finish their afternoon duty and return to their base in a relaxedmanner. During their absence, sufficient numbers of the culture medium have already beenprepared for tomorrowâ€™s duty by the squad members. A strange bath, created by uprighting a drum can, known as a Goemonburo, has been set up in the open space beside the shrine entrance. Two thirds of the drum is filled with hot water heated from underneath by a fire. You step onto the solid box beside the drum, support your body with both arms holding onto the edges of the drum, place your feet on the handmade footboard and sink it carefully with your body weight until your body soaks in the hot water. It is a bath for one person. The squad members, bustling around their boss, the lieutenant, courageous enough to take the first dip, watch Muramoto curiously, who succeeds in pushing down the footboard on the bottom of the heated drum and in soaking himself in the hot water. Following dinner, Muramoto and Fujimura move to the farmhouse behind the shrine where they rent the room to sleep. They are guided to one of the three rooms on the veranda facing south. It is an 8 tatami mat sized room, located to the west end of the veranda. Behind the wall, they hear a number of people chattering and the clatter of dishes. They take a short rest with tea served by the middle-aged housewife and then return to the shrine through the cornfields in between in order to do evening roll call. This is the first time they have all got together in several days. 82
The commandant, Muramoto explains the schedule for the following day. Muramoto, together with about ten soldiers, will go around in the city and visit as many camps as possible to carry out direct feces sampling from patients suffering from bloody faces or dysentery. Fujimura and First Private Watanabe, assisted by two Second Privates, are to proceed with direct feces sampling from the patients at Hesaka Elementary School, which they visited today; in short they get the order to go around all the villages nearby and to sanitize all the water wells that they find are unhygienic. Second Lieutenant Egami, who left this morning to visit the evacuation camp in the basement of the City Hall, is staying there this evening and will come back tomorrow to join the party. After the meeting, Fujimura and Muramoto go back to the farmhouse. The other two rooms facing south are already occupied by an old woman, two young women maybe younger than 20 and one boy who is in an early grade of the elementary school;a total of four people in the next room, and five or six people including several children in the other large room. Four of their neighbours look weary and sit silently around an antimosquito incense burner. The family in the large room seems to be happy to be around the children and enjoying their cuteness. Their cheerful laughing sounds penetrate the house. The two groups do not seem to be residents of the farmhouse. It looks like the owner’s family lives in the two rooms on the house’s north side. Their conversations among themselves imply they are relatives. Before dawn, Fujimura is awakened by the conversation coming through a shoji paper doorfrom the next room. “I’ve just seen dad.” The boy murmurs sleepily. “Me too, mum was beside him.” One of the sisters says. “Your mum and dad are so worried about you. They can’t go where they have to go.” Their grandmother murmurs, changing sides. The smothered crying of both sisters continues for a while. Fujimura wakes completely and cannot sleep any more. He turns around to see Muramoto. He’s looking up at the ceiling with eyes that could kill. After a while they get back to asleep again, until the calls from the shrine reach them: “Wake-up! Wake-up!” They leave the house still sleeping, without making noise. Lieutenant Muramoto, takes some medics with him, and leaves for the disaster area in the city. His squad is to circulate the camps and carry out direct feces sampling of the patients suffering from high fever and bloody feces. Fujimura grabs three medics, including First Private Watanabe, and 83
follows the same route asyesterday to Hesaka Elementary School and carries out feces sampling of all the patients there. They then visit the agriculture cooperative office. The young clerk whom they met yesterday guides them around. The road, not wider than for a two-wheeled cart, follows mostly along side of a low stone wall built up on a slope. Several farmhouses are located beside the road. Behind the house there is another stone wall which supports the house, with a small vegetable field upon the slope. The village is formed this way on the terraced slope. Sometimes parallel to the road in the village, a steep path goes up to the houses on the upper slope. Along the path, a narrow stream flows down a stone-made or cement waterway, which seems to supply the water to the farmhouses in the village. Every house has a well or a spring near its backdoor. Water seems to reach there through narrow streams, on the upper slope, after passing underground. In other words, the whole village is located on a sort of mountain stream on a large slope and this well-made waterway network from the mountain stream seems to distribute water to each house. Fujimura cannot help but worry if somebody in the upper houses is using human waste to fertilize his field and washing the his dipper he’s using to scoop up the human waste carelessly in the stream, even though a part of that water risks flowing under ground and reaching a spring or a well of the lower houses on the slope. Even if the Second Private pours the hypochlorite powder out of the big paper bag he carries into a well, the powder immediately flows down and away. They, nevertheless, continue their disinfection operation for each house, recognizing that they are merely pouring the powder into the large mountain river at random. A farm woman appears in their path. “The villagers are upset to see soldiers pouring what looks like poison into the wells since the war has ended. Please stop it!” Other tough-looking women join her to bar their way and prevent them to take even one step ahead. The clerk of the agriculture cooperative explains to the women what the soldiers are doing and shows the women the hypochlorite powder. “Why don’t you make some tea for the soldiers with the water they have disinfected? Let’s ask them to take a test and see if there’s poison in the water.” His words make Fujimura and his party burst out laughing. They visit a house near by of one of the women and are served tea with water disinfected by hypochlorite. Although tea with the chlorine odour is not good at all, they pretend as if they enjoy the tea. They accept steamed sweet potatos with the tea and leave the farmhouse. 84
The house, at the utmost end of the village, on the highest point of the valley, stands facing west beside the road to the mountain pass. Hollyhock flowers are vividly in full bloom on the stone wall in the narrow garden l, spreading from north to south. The road should lead to the city of Hiroshima after the mountain pass a few hundred meters from the house. A tall, thin, pine tree stands on the mountain pass. Its trunk is swaying heavily in the wind passing over there. There are two rooms along the veranda on the west. A set of clean futons has been put out on the tatamis in the one of the southern rooms. A young woman with a pale face is lying down there. The young clerk of the agriculture cooperative asks four soldiers to sit down on the veranda of the next room to the north. He goes to see the young woman, asks her about her disease symptoms and has a chat for awhile. He then enters to the kitchen from north back door and brings four cups of chilled water to serve them. “The family went out to the mountain area, leaving the sick alone. I can only serve water to you. Please be patient about it.” Cool wind comes up from the slope they have followed. The northern end of the narrow garden connects to the outhouse. After that, you can see the open sky . The four soldiers sitting on the edge of the veranda quickly eat their rice balls which they have brought and drink the chilled water. After a while, Fujimura moves to the garden in front of the sick room to say thanks to the woman lying on the futon bed. She sits up with a lot of effort and replies to Fujimura. He is shocked to discover a large volume of her hair has fallen out of her rich black hair onto the clean white pillow. He instantly thinks to say some words of sympathy to her. He however cannot do it, but only bows low to her and leaves the veranda. “She will get a fever around this evening.” He sees it but only recognizes he cannot do anything to help her. He forces himself to think that his primary duty is not the treatment but the epidemic prevention. The downward slope goes along the east side of the village. They walk down, continuing the same operation. At the end of the next village, they see a locomotive train on the Kibi Line, breathing steam, coming out from the tunnel on the right side of the mountain . Thhe small locomotive pulls two coaches and two open carriages full of people. In the open wagons are jam-packed demobilized navy troops. They are waving their caps towards the four soldiers, calling loudly, “Hurry up and come home.” It is the habit of the navy to wave their caps at any time to exchange their friendly salutes. The army does not have such custom but Fujimura and his soldiers wave their caps in return, while walking. Two old soldiers walking behind First Private Watanabe say to each 85
other, “ We wanna go home early too, don’t we?” Fujimura and Watanabe plod forward, neglecting their conversation. On their way back they stop at the ward in the elementary school and collect the glass plates of the Endo culture medium from the direct feces sampling of about 30 patients from themorning. They put them cautiously in the wooden box and again urge themselves on their way to the base. If they fail to put the samples in the incubator quickly enough, there is a risk to mess up the results due to bacteria coliform growing all over the culture medium. When they reach the base, they find their colleagues looking nervous. The party of Lieutenant Muramoto is not yet back. A suspicious bacterial colony has been found in the culture media the gel they use to support the samples of microrganisms they have collected - which was brought back by the truck after the instruction of Second Lieutenant Egami. Egami, who came back earlier to the base, works in the hastily built laboratory, moving the colony to the liquid culture media to breed the bacteria. Fujimura hands the culture medium from Hesaka over to a Non-Com in the laboratory, then he visits and salutes Egami, whom he has not seen for some time. Egami salutes him back briefly, pickinging up samples of Endo culture media one by one up from his desk and holding them up to the late afternoon light that’s gradually fading away. He continues his detailed visual check in silence, changing the glass plate of the culture medium. The faint reddish light, penetrating through the culture media which he holds over his face one by one, reflects upon the sun-burned strong face of the Second Lieutenant. Fujimura, after looking at him for a while, leaves the laboratory, saying,” See you later.” No relaxing atmosphere similar to yesterday evening is prevailing when he comes back to the shrine garden. They work intently as if they were working at the quarantine station. Kids coming to play with the soldiers seem to have nothing else to do but watch them from a distance. First Lieutenant Muramoto and his party soon come back. They look like they have worked hard in the disaster area; salty sweat shows on their foreheads and around their necks. Dinner is served late. They take quick drum can baths. Just like the previous night, the three military surgeons return to their room. The family in the southern room are chattering lively, while the four peoples in the next room remain quiet, except for exchanging a few words with their children. Fujimura vividly remembers the conversations from the room next door as he wakes with the dawn. Although he cannot help feeling deep pity 86
for these people, he doesn’t say a word to them, recognizing that he is not personally close enough to them and doesn’t want to carelessly disturb the depressed family. It is 12 days since the three surgeons last met together. Previously, they used to chat among themselves at the officers assembly house on the hill, or in the Muramoto’s room behind it. Young officers take to calling Muramoto, the senior officer, ”Chairman” to find an outlet for their complaints and dissatisfactions with him. He always listens to them calmly and used to make well-balanced comments, quoting some funny related anecdotes. Since August 6th, the three of them have each struggled with problems beyond their ability. They all know it . They also know that their thoughts and findings are still too pre-mature to put on the table of the discussion. Thus their talks remain somehow awkward. Muramoto asks, “Goro chan (addressing Second Lieutenant Egami by his nickname in the squad), what do you think about the situation in the city hall area?” and “Fuji chan, did you find anything important in Hesaka village?” To such questions, the two of them end the conversation giving only vague answers. The owner of the farmhouse appears and salutes them deferentially. “Your presence here gives enormous relief to all the villagers. The Sergeant Major told me that you would meet me today in a while. I was expecting you. Please take this with you though it is not much.” He offers them a plate with two gobs of unrefined Sakeand a ball of cooked vegetables. It’ s us who should say thank you for your hospitality. Don’t worry about us. We have finished our diner” First Lieutenant Muramoto, putting his knees together out of his short trouser, says to him, in a quite confused manner. Then Sergeant Major Kasuya appears abruptly from out of the shadows of dusk and tells Fujimura: “Surgeon, please come and see the patients. When I dropped by a house on the north side, they said a young wife there was getting extremely ill.” Since the unit arrived here, Kasuya has had the duty of looking for the seasonings from the farmhouses nearby and to buy them. If, while looking for food, he finds a patient that needs medical attention he is supposed to call Fujimura. Muramoto suggests they have a small drink first. However, the others decline it and go out to the path through the field. Kasuya brings out a white coat and asks Fujimura, who is in short sleeves and short trousers, to wear it. Muramoto is already in a white coat. Fujimura, even though feeling a little hot, does as he does. Walking in the lane along the fields, hearing, early for the season, the 87
chirping of insects, Fujimura thinks he should be grateful to have been suddenly granted such a peaceful time through this white coat to visit patients, impossible to imagine these days. Over the clouds covering the mountains in the east, sickly light appears, foretelling moonrise is near. Kasuya takes him to the farmhouse in the bamboo grove near the riverbank. The house, with its doors closed, is filled with the smoke of burning anti-mosquito grasses. They feel their eyes become irritated. The young woman laying down in the back room is the daughter of the couple of the house. She, and her young son, have terrible fevers. The young mother already has blood gushing from her nose. Hemorrhagic macules appear on her face and her breast. She says she also had several blood stools. Holding her nosebleed almost overflowing, “Surgeon, I don’t care whatever happens to me. But please keep my son alive.” She talks to him haltingly, pressing her hands together toward him. Kasuya, in silence, holds out a syringe with a vitamin C injection to him. In spite of his helpless reluctance, he gives injections to young mother and her young son. They leave the farmhouse. Giving the injection without any effect,,, Was it just an act to satisfy only himself or did he do it to co-operate with Kasuya, who works to get seasonings for his colleagues? Fujimura breathes deeply, leaving the house filled with the smoke of the anti-mosquito grass, and reflects to himself. They follow the riverbank downstream and stop at another farmhouse, one size bigger than the previous one. The family seems to be more intimate and friendly with Kasuya. Again, the refugees from the city, a family of 5 people, stay in the house. Nothing abnormal is for the time being detected in the any of them. The old couple absolutely dotes upon their three grandchildren. Seeing such a scene,, Fujimura is afraid should their grandchildren die, the old couple may be so distressed, either of them may soon follow. The whole family sees them off with total appreciation for their visit. The two guys make their way back to the base, lit by the full fAugust moon, in a relaxed mood. Fujimura happens to stop when he gets near the shrine. He just feels most comfortable, walking in the field lit brightly by the moon. He wonders, however, if it is because the second family he visited was all in a healthy condition, and which the old couple offered him their appreciation from their hearts. 88
The guarantee he gave on their health after the brief examination has given unexpectedly enormous relief to the family. All the family saw him off, full of gratitude and joy. He is wondering if it flatters him, the inexperienced doctor. Could he have walked here in such a comfortable manner if he had visited the two families in reverse order? Such feelings happen to hit him and make him stop in the middle of the field. The young mother at the first house, pressing the blood coming out of her nose, putting her hands together, asked him, “I don’t care about whatever happens to me, but please keep my son alive.” He couldn’t do anything for her. At the next house he’s enjoying really comfortable situation. “How can I react in such a way?” Fujimura, facing the two incompatible cases, reflects to himself, awfully embittered. The unit where he worked until about three months ago, and still sometimes participates in now, wasfor the prevention of the intestinal epidemics. now he still takes a part of it, In that unit, ropes are stretched around the company where an epidemic is detected. Numerous tests are repeatedly carried out until they are assured that there is no infected person and no need for control inside the ropes. The epidemic prevention work in the army as an organization, having a fixed target, is operated under such severe and thorough controls. It is, however, impossible to apply such thorough methods to the general public, though the approach to prevention work remains same. All they can do, at most, is to isolate the infected patient when detected. It is impossible for the prevention team to put people suspected of infection under quarantine. The approach to the two families should be the same, though the results have been different. Both families barely escaped alive from the disaster area. One family is facing death, while the other , exposed to the same radiation, shows no sign of its effect. According to the method he has used to conduct his epidemic prevention work so far, the latter family, without having any abnormal symptoms at a glance, should be under quarantine as in the army, anticipating that they would suffer from the same damage as the first family has. He has, however, no authority to do that. He recognizes also that he has no means, even if he succeed in putting the family under his control, to prevent acute radiation damage, the risk that will probably appear in few days. He restarts his walk, shaking his head helplessly. When he reaches the shrine garden, he sees that all are retired for 89
Two soldiers approach him, salute, and say in a low voice, â€œWe are on night watch duty. All is calm.â€? Fujimura and Kasuya reply to them in silence, then salute each other, and separate right and left.
Former quarantine station site(Photo was taken by Hiromi Suzumura in August 2009.)
9. Epidemic Prevention The next morning, First Lieutenant Muramoto is supposed to leave the base, taking Fujimoto and a few other Non-Coms with him. Before heading out, the first lieutenant, somewhere down the line, asks about and checks in detail the health situation of his soldiers in his well-practiced manner, gazing on their faces one by one, touching their foreheads, and so on. He decides to depart only after he confirms they are in good health. Depending the day, though there is none this morning, some must have the test for numbers of white blood cells. A soldier with under 4000 per cubic millimetres has to stay onthe base. Fujimura once received the test which showed 4600 cells and passed the test. A year ago, when Fujimura was working in a tuberculosis sanatorium for a short period TBI was a chemotherapeutical drug frequently applied to TB patients. It was often found, however, that the drug drastically decreased the number of white blood cells. Fujimura recognized that the patients with white blood cells of less than 4000 per cubic millimetres always suffered from a delay in recovery from the disease. Having had this personal experience, he was amazed that Lieutenant Muramoto had known to set the criterion at 4000 and had acted accordingly. Fujimura had a chance to call Muramoto and ask him where he got such criterion. Muramoto, smiling over the phone, told him in a natural manner, “It was Major Takasaka who taught me. Where ? I already forget.” “I remember him well. Once I got slapped by him. But I did not hate him particularly over it. He was sort of a great man, wasn’t he?” Fujimura recalled, with nostalgia, the Major, full of fighting spirit, in his tall body. He also recalled the activities of Muramoto’s platoon at that time. After the bomb was dropped, many medical experts were despatched to Hiroshima. Many of them seemed to have stayed at the same place to carry out medical treatment. Muramoto and his platoon, having been exposed to the dense residual radioactivity, moved around in the ruins for nearly two weeks. There probably weren’t so many like his platoon. It should be recorded, he thought, that Muramoto’s platoon was exceptional - one that carried out their mission, having had a firm criterion for the number of white blood cells as 4000 Arriving in the city, Muramoto’s team visits the Red Cross hospital 91
The hospital, being situated near the centre of the explosion, is in disastrous shape. They are guided to the main building. Fujimura finds that all the window panes have been blown out. A long building which he sees from the smashed window looks like a medical ward, which may have escaped the fire of the bomb. However, all its materials and equipment, having been tossed around by the blast of the bomb, remain untouched. Without heavy manpower, he thinks, it would take a long time to get that ward back to its normal functioning level. A substantial part of the ward is damaged and not useable. But in the less damaged main building, all the floors are filled with beds and receive many victims. The Deputy Director of the hospital shows Muramoto and his soldiers around. They see that the kind of chaotic situation they experienced at Ninoshima Island seems to be over here and that many of patients seem to be vigorous. Their concerns, rather, go to the nurses who are working hard, moving busily among the narrow beds. They look pale and exhausted. “The nurses look more sick than the patients in the beds,” Fujimura comments bluntly. “Even those who look fine can, one day, suddenly get fever and get worse in a short period of time. But you know, the same could happen to us at any time,” The Deputy Director replies with his calm smile. The party carries out direct feces sampling of several people. There is a request from a nurse to be tested. She goes to toilet with a glass slide to use for the sample. When she comes out, she hands it out to young Fujimura in an embarrassed manner. While Fujimura and his colleagues collect feces samples, Lieutenant Muramoto visits other rooms of patients with the Deputy Director. The lieutenant seems to develop deep respect for the Deputy Director’s personality. Whenever he passes near the hospital following this first meeting, he always visits him, anticipating listening to him talk about the ever-changing situation of the radiation damage and the counter measures. They continue their visit to other wards in the southern area of the ruined city, then proceed toward the auto-gyro, base, passing through houses of the employees of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries near the sea. Single- storied wooden houses do not seem to have any damage at first glance. Squash, grown n the small gardens, remain undamaged, with their large leaves intact. The machine called an autogyro was an original type of helicopter. It was already in service in the US Army In Japan it was known as a bamboo dragonfly (helicopter-like bamboo toy). 92
Development of the machine was delayed in Japan. It was never put into practical use during the war. Fujimura and others had seen the autogyro flying up from the base near the sea between US air raids. It had a big propeller on the pilot cabin of the small training airplane with a single engine and flew around in a sluggish manner. It could fly up, they imagined, directly from a deck of a certain size of vessel and could serve as an antisubmarine patrol. The base is a grass field of about 60 meters wide and 200 meters long. There is a hanger-like building at the end of the field. Two prototypes with their engines firmly covered by cloth are there. A trench has been dug in the middle of the grass field. Bandages smeared with blood and pus and also burned pieces of clothes are piled mountain-high. But there is no sign of life. “Hey, hey, I’m pleased to find the soldiers still working, like you.” From the hanger, a powerfully built lieutenant comes out and welcomes them, full of smiles. On August 15th, the day of Japan’s defeat in the war, this lieutenant dissolved his platoon and let all his non-coms and soldiers return to headquarters in Iwakuni, and now he says: “I will remain alone here to care of this bamboo dragon fly until I deliver it to the enemy.” He tells them that once, big tents were installed on both sides of the grass field and two hundreds of patients were kept in the wards. “What? Blood feces? I’ve never heard of it. All the medics left the day before yesterday, after transferring all the remaining patients somewhere else. Look at the pile of rags. I’ll burn them with gasoline this afternoon. Any way, look at the nasty flies. I am alone. With nothing to do. Bored. I just clean and nap.” Apparently he gets really bored and keeps talking to anyone at all without a care. He worked as a pilot for a famous newspaper company with their headquarters in Osaka and got drafted into the military. He darkens his unique sharply sculpted face to make it different from Japanese, saying that Japanese pilots may not be allowed to fly after their defeat in the war. He asks why they are here. “Oh that’s pity. Here, there is nobody but me. Well then, I ask you to check my crap for the memory of your visit.” As soon as he says so, he puts down his trousers and grovels, thrusting his bottom toward Fujimura. “What a good guy, this lieutenant,” Fujimura thinks about him, daubing the glass slide and penetrating his bottom with the agar media. He finds him greatly resembles another lieutenant Fujimura met in 93
Beijin a year ago. When he studied in the army physician school there he had a chance to visit the air base in the suburbs and to get to fly in a small bombing plane for a short time. The pilot, a lieutenant at that time, might be little bit bigger and older than this lieutenant who now talks to Fujimura nonstop here.. However, he is impressed by the similarity of their features and manner of speaking. When the lieutenant at the air base in Beijin got out of his plane, the sergeant at the maintenance service commented to Fujimura in a monologue; “He is a sort of a treasure of Japan. But such a man usually wouldn’t live long.” Fujimura thinks that the similarities he feels for the two lieutenants may originate in their common circumstances, living so long time next to death. The safety of airplanes only goes so far. Parting with the delightful lieutenant, the truck with the party moves on, crosses the Kyobashi River and heads to their final destination of the day, turning to south end of Hijiyama Mountain. Hijiyama is more of a hilly area than a mountain, extending from north to south tothe east side of the city. The army cemetery spreads over the hill. Various war memorials stand on the top area of the hill and look down the centre of the city. The area is only 2km from the centre of the explosion. The hill top and west side of the hill are completely burned. The east side of the hill, which is only 60 meters high from sea level, was able to escape the disaster, preserving foliage around the hill and buildings as it was before. Abandoning their truck at the end of narrow lane, Lieutenant Muramoto leads his team toward the commercial college for women alongside the hill, passes its gate and approaches the entrance. It looks like it still houses many patients. They see numerous patients in the school building and even under the trees of the school courtyard. A man suddenly throws his arms around Fujimura from his right when he is about to pass the entrance after Muramoto. Fujimura sees it’s a short nom-com. “Is it really you? I can’t believe you really have legs,” the non-com says. (In traditional Japanese ghost stories, ghosts didn’t have any legs and floated in the air). Fujimura takes the service cap off the guy hugging him and finds a wonderful bald-head. “Huh, it’s you, my old buddy! What are you doing here?” It’s Sergeant Machida. They worked together in the quarantine station ofWadamisaki cape at Kobe until only two months ago. “I was called up here on August 5th for non-com training, then PicaDon occurred in the morning of the 6th. (“Pica Don” literally means “Flash” 94
and “Sound.” It was a common way Japanese described the atomic bomb.) “It’s really terrible. I was incorporated into a relief squad. Well, here I am now. Is there no way to get out of here? This man really has two legs?” Fujimura takes Machida, repeating the same words with teardrops on his sunburned face, under the shadow of a tree, asking First Private Hanaki behind him to tell Lieutenant Muramoto of the situation, and tries to listen to Machida. Machida has long been a comrade, having passed with Fujimura through the risks of death under repeated air-raids., It’s uncertain if they will meet again should they miss this chance. According to Machida, the Shipping Information regiment they belonged is to be dissolved. He has been called up for duty at the headquarters in Nishinomiya city. “Surgeon, you are also in for a long term official trip, aren’t you? You haven’t received the return order yet? It’s strange, huh?” Machida wishes to go back together with Fujimura. But Fujimura has not received such orders. While they are talking each other, Muramoto appears. Sergeant Machida stands up straight, saluting him, then gestures toward Fujimoto, and says, “He is a really unreliable surgeon. It’s better to send him home earlier.” The party is on the rear deck of the truck is heading back to the base. Hanaki talks to Fujimura in a loud voice. “That Chief was with you before?” “Yes, we were at the quarantine office on the Wadasaki Misaki cape, in Kobe until this June this year. We gathered frail soldiers from the units, let them take a rest for about three months, left them idle, let them get fat, and then returned them to their units. It was an easy duty. According to his special theory, if soldiers were allowed to drink water or tea whenever they wished, they would surely get fat. We implemented his idea. Then their weights increased. I, then, added my own two cents that it requires twenty times the amount of water to metabolize the carbohydrates.” “Hey, it means, puffing them up with water,” says Muramoto,” Listen to him.” They all crack up. Arriving at the base, they return to their individual posts. It seems, however, their experience at the auto gyro base and the meeting of Fujimura at the women’s commercial college have caused a subtle change in their minds. Fujimura, having been a soldier, can feel it instantly. “I can’t bear to see the misery of Hiroshima right now. I’d like to work here as a doctor for a while to help with the recover,” says Muramoto. They all agree and follow him. Despite this, as time goes by, the situation around them changes, and 95
the non coms react sensitively and feel uneasy. It seems to be more and more difficult for them to retain their motivation for their duties. There seems no way for the three surgeons headed by Muramoto to justify holding them back. Late in the evening, Second Lieutenant Egawa comes back to the base. The three of them, after returning to their room, get caught up in their own thoughts for a while, staring absently into the rice field, being lit up by the glowing moon of the Buddhist Obon event. They tend to fall into silence among themselves. “Well, let me explain about the patients suffering from blood in their feces and high fever found here and there,” Egami starts to talk about his subject, as if reviewing it after having contemplated it for some time. “I cannot but think it is due to radiation. Even if we run about and search all over the place, we never find any germs. I really wonder if we are continuing to run around for something totally of no use,” Muramoto, with his usual genial manner, says. “ Yeah,” then Muramoto pauses and thinks to himself for a while before starting to talk. “Well, Goro-chan, it was around August 9th or 10th, I’m not sure. Can you imagine, in such a crazy situation, what Sugata was ordered to do? “I heard he was culturing some virus.” “Yeah, he was searching the virus ofWerhof purpura, by the order of the Director.” “I heard once that a such disease existed. The cause of the disease seems to be a virus.” “Yeah, it is a sort of local disease in some country side area of the USA. There is a report, I’ve heard, indicating that the disease largely resembles the purpura blood clotting appearing here now.” “It sounds like a mysterious story.” “Yeah, but he was ordered to chase that kind of virus. What we are actually doing right now is based on the same idea. Some patients, hospitalized, show symptoms like a high fever with bloody feces. Even if it is suspected as a disease from an atomic bomb, some tests should be carried out:, feces tests, blood tests, especially tests for epidemic viruses . Are you saying all of these are useless?” “No, they should be carried out.” “In fact, we’ve run about these days to prove that the patients we’ve seen with high fevers and bloody stools are not suffering from dysentery,” Fujimura interrupts, with a convinced look, as if he is recalling what Muramoto has pointed out on various other occasions. “Yeah, that’s right.” “In fact, we work to get negative data, don’t we?” “Yeah, you’re right. Who has that function today in Hiroshima?” 96
“Yes, only we have it.” Second Lieutenant Egami seems to regain his usual self-confidence. The talk of Muramoto, or as they usually call him, “Mr.Chairman, always develops in such a way. He often jokes, but this evening he is more serious than usual. “Well, Goro chan, I remember that the quarantine section of the city office was trying to transport their evacuated equipment back . Is it going OK?” “Yes, we have started tackling that, but trucks are under the control of the Central Unit. It’s daily hard work to ensure we get a truck. We have to negotiate every morning. Anyhow, they manage to spare one for us. A more serious problem is on the city office side. I don’t feel, how should I say, their desire to devote themselves to the quarantine operation. The number of young men is seriously short because of continuous call-ups for duty to the army and so on, leaving only old men, as you all know. The more serious issue is how to assure food. The other pressing issue is to take away the numerous dead bodies still left on the ground in the city. These are the priorities. It took me a half day to persuade guys in the sanitary division to nominate, at last, a liaison officer for us. Only this guy listens to me, anyhow.” “There is, for the time being, no information on the dysentery going around, is there?” “ No, sir. That’s why I’m working hard to persuade them to urge a quarantine operation. Above all we urgently need trucks.” “Our unit should have one quarantine water supply truck. Where is it right now?” Fujimura has heard of it but never seen it . He remembers that he has seen one in the army medic college in Beijing one year ago. They used it once for tactical exercise.On the deck of the small vehicle, unglazed pots were arranged in rows. By filling one pot with dirty water, then pressuring the water so it passes through several pots one by one, in the end it was possible to get almost pathogen-free water. It also produced a fairly good yield. He has heard stories that medical officers once planned to obtain solution for injections out of such water when they were overloaded by patients on the island. “I am afraid that that type of vehicle could be regarded as a weapon.” “If so, it should be delivered unconditionally to the enemy.” -- But, since the war is over, it can be used as normal truck if all the pots are removed.— Fujimura easily imagines what Muramoto thinks, but also how their superiors would react in such circumstances. “By the way, still today one or two heathly carriers of the virus are being detected everyday. We’re arguing over where to put them. I proposed 97
the burnt-out Fukuya building at Hacchobori,,,,.” “Yeah, that could be a good solution, since all there is around there are burnt out ruins.” “But people gradually return, do they?” “I’ll visit the Red Cross Hospital tomorrow. Let’s discuss it then.” The sound of the evening wind breezing through corn leaves makes it feel like it is somehow autumn already. Near the veranda where the three guys are talking, the family in the next room sit quietly around their mosquito coil pan. The voices of soldiers exercising in the shrine garden before the call of the day can be heard, then change to those of march on the double and pass by the tidy hedge of the garden in front. One of the sergeant majors leading the march on the double gives a command: “Keep pace!” He turns toward the veranda. “Salute the captain! Heads, to the right!” They pass in front of veranda. It is quite unusual to see the sergeant major wears, not just his field cap, but also the cap of the civilian uniform. “That guy, he is demonstrating against us,” Egami spits out bitterly. The march on the double seems to continue on to the shrine, then dissolves beside the shrine’s front. The sergeant major leading the parade, wore only a civilian cap, performed the “Head to the right” movement in an arrogant manner and passed in front of three men at a lazy pace. It could be a sort of the protest against their current situation, beingretained by the army indefinitely. It can be only understood as an unexceptionally audacious action considering the military discipline they are under where still they are. The three men see that the day is near when no one will officially recognize their work, they think, for the citizens of Hiroshima. Non-coms… they were just called up for the war, just happened to receive an order to be a medic and be incorporated into the unit of Muramoto. This local quarantine operation, after the war is over, would not be considered their primary duty. The people who are normally in charge of this kind duty must be those who want to do it, having received the due education as specialists and had due experience in the field. Even if Muramoto’s unit is today obliged to pass n such work due to the bombed-out situation in the city, the work ends up taken up as soon as possible by teams of specialists from the city and prefectural office. Nevertheless, there is no one to succeed them doing this job. It is true, as Egami says, that the whole administration in Hiroshima is in shambles. At the end of the war, all Japanese are barely surviving under waves of air-raids. All administration has been held under the army, particularly their 98
local headquarters. The civilians in the offices have no alternative but to behave entirely as the army decrees. If Fujimura fails once to execute even one trifling thing to the army’s satisfaction, he would receive a call-up paper, become just an ordinary soldier, and then disappear somewhere else. In the unit in Nishinomiya City where Fujimura has been on the duty until June, an army civilian who was a famous pianist, a professor at a musical college, was in charge of acoustic training for boy soldiers as a field grade officer. He happened to be called up as a second private recruit to somewhere in the Tohoku region. The captain did everything to recover the pianist and brought him back to his unit, but he could do nothing to change the grade of second private. He is a first-rate pianist in Japan. However, he drank too much. He has never been defiant against the army but has remained cowardly during his days as a second private. A high-ranking surgeon took him into a medical ward and succeeded in obtaining his provisional demobilization. It took, however, a long time for the pianist, already half poisoned by alcohol,to return back to music circles after the war. This case is quite exceptional. Not to mention what would happen to one who was against what the army said, even one being considered as incompetent people get pushed away. Thus, in every area in Japan, notable administrators and leaders in various fields were pushed away relentlessly. Those left behind fell into unusual psychological situations where they lost the ability to judge for themselves what to do. Hiroshima suffered, in addition, from the huge damage of the atomic bomb. More than hundreds of thousands died on the spot. Their dead bodies are still exposed oin the ruins. More than 200 thousand people who escaped death are only wandering, like ghosts, in an abject misery, between life and death. Then, the disastrous war defeat. All hierarchies of the military organization who have kept on pressuring people in the name of the sacred war until only a few days ago have become complete cowards. Even though Egami exerts his best to persuade people of the importance of the quarantine work, he cannot expect to find anyone who says, “OK, understood. Let’s get this squared away.” Almost all who may say so have been discarded on the overseas battlefields. Muramoto’s team struggles, in this situation, taking it upon themselves to run here and there for the virus search, the less rewarded duty. 99
10. Pink RoofTile In the morning, the three surgeons, together with dozens of non-coms, leave the base. Second Lieutenant Muramoto, accompanied by one non-com, leaves the party at Red-Cross Hospital. As discussed last night, he is to ask them if fa part of the burnt hospital ward may receive healthy carriers of the virus or not. Egami and others proceed toward the temporary office of the scorched prefectural building.open space on the south of it. They feel a little bit awkward, but it was scheduled that the truck should be return to headquarters and then another truck was to pick them up. The heat of the late-summer sun is high and beats down on them violently. There is rather high-traffic on the wide road, running south to north, a little bit lower than the open space where they stand, in front of the tower of two burnt-out buildings. Another road, at right angles to the first, leads west. Brand new hydro poles are lined up to the left side of the road. Also, new electric wires have been stretched to link the poles. This is an electric power transmission system, urgently set up for the two buildings through the ruins. The square where soldiers stand is higher than the road due to the rubble fallen from the two buildings and from the road itself. There is literally a mountain of rubble, mostly composed of broken pieces of roof tiles mixed with rusted red pieces of iron. It looks like a white mountain at a glance. However, the colour of the surface of many of the glazed tiles glazed has turned pink. Fujimura wonders, “How high would the temperature have to be to change the colour of the tiles to pink?” A medic who hears the monologue of Fujimura, replies: “Well, probably from one thousand to one thousand, two hundred degrees.” Fujimura remembers that the medic is a craftsman from Ehime prefecture. “Hmm, one thousand to one thousand two hundreds-. So, black roof tile can turn pink if it’s exposed to such high temperatures, can it?” Confirming it with him, Fujimura is lost in thought, crossing his hands. In the summer of 1944 to June 1945he was on duty in a unit in the Hanshin district. He had spent his time doing nothing but quarantine operations and rescues from the usual damage inflicted by the war. He has seen air raid damage in the district but it was only one time when he saw a pile of roof discoloured and turned pink in the ruins. 100
It must have been near Hyogo station. The area between the elevated tracks seemed to have been totally burnt-out. A baby born, left among the pink tiles hardly showed its original shape but remained like a white clot of ash. It remained softly as if a breeze would just blow it away. The ruins where Fujimura and his colleagues now stand is, as far as they can see, a field of rubble featuring pieces of pink tile. On top of this, they are surrounded by the intolerable odour of decomposing dead bodies. The awful odour comes up from everywhere, even if direction of the wind changes a little bit. He has learned that the colour of roof tiles changes to pink at the temperature of 1000 C to 1200C. He is amazed to imagine corpses lying down, with parts still decomposing, under rubble blasted at such high temperatures. It is quite clear that the burnt out site he sees here is completely different from what he saw in Kobe, even thoughthere were roof piles discoloured to pink. Furthermore, the vast burnt-out field, the fierce ruin, is here as the result of the explosion of only one atomic bomb. On the morning ofAugust 6th, when he was on the south beach of Ninoshima Island he happened to see the explosion straight in front of him. The flash of it turned into a colossal pillar of fire, standing straight up in the sky. The next second it became a huge fireball extended over the right shoulder of Mount Akikofuji, producing various colours of smoke from every part of its fireball, which in the next moment turned into a gigantic bank of cloud . Fujimura tries to imagine what has happened around this area, near the centre of explosion: The heat wave generated at the moment of the explosion of the atomic bomb produced heat of 1000-1200 degrees centigrade that burned the roof tiles a discoloured pink. Then, the next moment, the heat, which brought physical destruction and burnt out everything should have attacked the area. He has no idea other than that. A patient who was in his medical ward told him that he saw a bluish purple flame and was instantly blown over into the river, and after found fires coming out from every part of broken buildings. Others said that bluish white or reddish purple flame billowed, expanding its force. Fujimura believes that he, by his nature, is not good at thinking in depth. Nevertheless, his thoughts go on: The eat of 1000 to 1200 degrees centigrade which attacked the roof tiles scattered around here, must have originated in a heat wave, which broke out at the time of the explosion of the atomic bomb, or maybe from a sort of radiation. And it happened just after the bomb blast wreaked its physical destruction. Almost at the same moment, its hot air blast attacked everything in sight, burning out everything. 101
Collapsed buildings breathed fire, which must have steamed and roasted the bodies that were crushed to death. And,,, more facts other than his thoughts should be clarified by the experts who are specialized to study mass murder. In front of the ruins where Fujimura stands, the tram street runs from north to south. Fairly large numbers of people are walking by. Most of the citizens on the street are in a miserable state, without any belongings, and look literally like citizens of a country defeated in war. An old man walking from the south stops in front of Fujimura’s team and starts to drink water, flowing from a lead tube poking out of some of the ruins. The drinking end of thetube is choked up in such a way that water only trickles out a little. The scrawny old man is forced to keep on drinking this narrow flow of water for a long time. “Hey old man, don’t drink too much; you’ll get diarrhea.” A soldier calls to him and he finally removes his mouth from the tube and wipes his neck and chest with a filthy towel, his undisguised feeling of hate for the soldier clear in his eyes. The old man starts walking toward north. Then his body suddenly disappears. Fujimura sees only his oddly coordinated filthy cap, short sleeve shirt, trousers and his pair of running shoes stepping away. In these last few days, Fujimura has had these kinds of moments. Much like someone who has walked in the hot sun, suddenly people he sees became transparent to his eyes. He has followed such cases and has found those persons all died. Even now, he desperately stifles the impulse to begin screaming and to break out in a run. He suddenly wonders if he is experiencing a nervous breakdown, then the old man re-appears with his filthy back, walking steadily away, and melts into the crowd, which is just as filthy as he is. Although Fujimura has succeeded to return to himself for a moment, he is to have similar experiences again several times. The windows of the temporary prefectural office and the city hall are all blown out. Some windows are blocked with furniture, the backs of which can be seen from the ruins where the team stands. Between the windows, they can see some patients walking around. Many of them have bandages over their heads. From the front entrance of city hall to the shadows of the building on the south side there is a long line of people waiting for some rations. Despite the long length of the line, it advances little by little as time goes on. People holding blackish grey blankets appear one by one. The scene of severely hungry -ooking people, tottering out in the hot sun, holding a blackish blanket is just like a piece of a caricature. First Private Yoshida, beside Fujimura, suddenly runs away, with a small cry, and holds the hand of tall woman in the middle of the street. He 102
then brings her toward the team. “Ah, that’s Miss Nagai, isn’t it?” Some of medics who know her run out into the street and take her to Fujimura, surrounding her. On the island she was just filthy after the evacuation from the disaster. Today, she wears monpe (loose trousers) with an adzuki bean colour print and a clean neat short sleeve blouse. She looks amazingly matured. Her face, slightly round now, looks more beautiful than ever, but remains as pale as before. “It’s been a while. Thank you very much for everything at that time.” She renews her thanks to Fujimura and his colleagues in a matured manner. “Thank you for all the work you do for us.” She salutes, hearing about what they’ve been up to. “You could finally settle down in Koi, couldn’t you. It’s good.” Fujimura warmly congratulates her, looking happy despite of the poverty where she is. “Our house is humble but please be sure to visit us when you are near.” Saying this to Fujimura, she begins to explain the details of the route to her place to one of soldiers who knows the area. The way she explains the route seems to be so sincere that Fujimura almost has the impression that she is not doing so just from mere protocol. “Well then, have you got any news from your mother?” Fujimura remembers her story: Just before Miss Nagai was knocked, by the bomb blast, from her first floor veranda, she heard noises that her mother was doing something. When she recovered in the river and climbed up to the bank, she found that the area had turned into a sea of fire. She nods no in answer to his question. “I have been there two times,,,” She hesitates. “I understand, it’s nerve-wracking. Try to look for the other place. You should find her.” Without replying to him, she abruptly holds her forehead hairs and pulls them. 5 or 6 hairs fall out easily and remain among her fingers. Staring at her half-crying smile, Fujimura gets too choked up for words. On that first night on Ninoshima, the Island of screams of cruel pain and agony, together, she together and Miss Yokoi, helped him care for the critically-ill patients, enduring the pain of her own injured leg. The girl who gave him a gentle smile when his eyes met hers and encouraged him when exhausted, he collapsed on the small wooden mandarin orange box. The girl who pushed a rice ball into his mouth and put pickles into his mouth, opening her mouth to encourage him to eat, “Say ‘ahn.’” 103
She should be already someone’s young wife. The woman is going to die! Fujimura abruptly starts talking as if he is delirious. “Look, Miss Nagai, the war is over. No one has to die. Keep quiet as much as you can. Eat greens,,,, Your man will surely save you. Never loose your heart!” The eyes of the non-coms are keenly fixed on Fujimura as he talks deliriously. Their eyes, even as they imagine that the beautiful woman in front them must die in the not far future, show their agreement to continuous stream of words from Fujimura. She nods gently to them, bows, and starts to walk west along the burnt whitish-colored road. She is tall, but her steps look unexpectedly light. She walks away in the middle of the ruins. When she approaches a sort of hill, probably a bridge, her whole body seems to float up in the middle of a totally blue summer sky. The next moment, she quite abruptly vanishes from his sight into thin air. “She must surely survive.” Why? He is not sure, but he believes it. It could merely be his, sort of, hope, but on the other hand it is his young passion that wishes so. Much later, he is to read many accounts of experiences of persons who were able to miraculously survive, even after repeatedly experiencing symptoms like the primary atomic bomb disease syndrome, such as hair loss and bleeding, like the case of Miss Nagai. He is to recall Miss Nagai every time, yearning that she would survive by all means. He is to learn that often such patients survive, having the symptoms repeatedly at certain intervals but also that significant numbers of patients die from complications, which hurts his mind. Fujimura can never forget the image of her back, stepping away on the white ruins, showing herself for a moment in the blue summer sky, melting into thin air from his sight. As time passes, the sun rises higher and higher. Its heat gets tougher and tougher. In the morning, they all follow Second Lieutenant Egami from the base. The truck that brought them to the prefecture building was supposed to be returned to the prefecture and another truck should have arrived to serve for the quarantine operation. The truck after having dumped them out exposed to the heat of summer sunshine, on the ruins, has disappeared to the south yard of the prefectural building with Second Lieutenant Egami and Sergeant Major Kasuya in it. Nothing has been heard since. “What happened to them?” “We should have used it instead of returning it. May be there is no truck to replace it with.” 104
The nton-coms become nervous. Fujimura, unable to put up with the situation any longer, goes alone into the prefectural court. 5, or 6 tents are set up in the large yard. There are 2-3 office desks under each tent. Unpacked clothes and food are piled up on the desks. Officers and senior non-coms are walking around with documents for putting things in order. Besides those busy working, some officers with lapel badges of major or lieutenant colonel loll idly back on the chairs, these include men with reddish faces, obviously already drunk in the morning. No officers wearing lapel insignias of the Shipping unit are among them. Fujimura seems to have slipped into a place where the army is now preparing to distribute living necessities secretly stockpiled during the war to victims of the explosion. He also senses that some of these supplies have already been reserved for high officers, to be shared among them. He finds Egami in the rear most tent behind the court, in the midst of a discussion across the plain desk of a lieutenant colonel, who lolls idly on his chair. He also sees Kasuya, in the truck brought them here in the morning, with the same driver behind the wheel. When Fujimura moves toward them, Egami bursts into shouting in a loud voice, fingering his military sword on his waist, moving into his sudden slash posture. “Curse you! I’ll chop you up” Fujimura feels he hears Egami, with his stormy look, shouting such words. But as nothing can be clearly heard amid bustle of the soldiers around, Egami could slash the lieutenant colonel if he really wants to. The lieutenant colonel stands up slowly, holding his pistol, drawn out from his waist, and seems to being saying something to Egami in a calm manner. At almost the same time as Fujimura starts to run towards Egami the truck starts up its engine . Kasuya opens the door of the cab. “Hurry up, Second Lieutenant Egami!” Hearing his shout clearly, Fujimura jumps onto the bed of the truck, just as it brushes past him, screeching with crazy noise. The lieutenant colonel breaks into a laugh with his mouth open widely, puts his pistol in the sky and fires off a shot. The truck tears out toward the street in front of the prefectural office. Watching all get on the bed of the truck, Egami says to Fujimura: “Fujimura, you’re in charge of the team for now. I’ll take a bicycle.” He walks back hurriedly into the court of the prefecture he exited a moment ago. “ Officer, there’s some incredible stuff in here.” A soldier, jumping onto the bed of the truck thrusts a big open paper bag at Fujimura . There are adzuki beans and sugar in it. Almost every kind of food is in critical short supply today. Even low quality sugar and adzuki beans are very precious. “Ho, Ho, nice, isn’t it?” 105
“Take them, take them, we can eat them this evening.” “After all, they’re sort of Second Lieutenant Egami’s booty, aren’t they?” laughs Kasuya . Even in the last days of fighting in the war, the majority of senior officers he knew generally had OK personalities. After defeat, however, not a few of them committed actions incomprehensible to the eyes of most people, driven by personal greed. It shocks Fujimura to believe that the bravelooking lieutenant colonel could have been so selfish as to hoard food from his own troops. . In the chaotic aftermath of the war, the heat of the moment of a split second almost lead to a slash of the sword by Egami, an expert of marshal arts, and taken his life away instantly. Only Kasuya’s tactics saved him. Hiroshima is experiencing severe crunches in every possible area. One of the most pressing tasks they have is the operation to prevent an epidemic of bowel system infections being carried out by Muramoto’s team . Fujimura thinks about all that the other duties that need to be urgently tackled. Transportation means are extremely limited. It will be by no means an easy task to take care of all these urgent matters having only the few trucks the army has now. The lieutenant colonel could have issued an urgent order dissolving the army and might have scrambled a truck for Egami. He could have taken advantage of his position and set aside scarce food supplies like adzuki beans and sugar, in the rear corner of truck. Thinking of this situation induced the anger of the young second lieutenant; in the worst case, the lieutenant colonel’s behaviour had put his own life at risk. If it is really the case he hoarded food, Fujimura thinks, the lieutenant colonel is a truly pitiful guy. After following orders to visit camps in the afternoon, they return to the base while the sun is still in the sky. Neither Muramoto nor Egami are back yet. Fujimura, having nothing to do walks in the dusk along the lane from the shrine to the national road. There is a fairly new school building there, facing a rice field. A soldier at the school gate salutes to a his wooden training gun with a tampon stuck on it. What a stupid present arms. He wears a shabby school uniform of the school with its sleeves cut off , but has a brand new lapel with one star. He is every inch a second class private. When Fujimura first arrived at the shrine there were no signs of soldiers near by. No soldier should be called up after the war defeat. 106
He remembers hearing “lights-out” from the village on the night of August 15th, when the war defeat was at last confirmed. The sound was an absolutely sombre tone. Here once again, he feels really depressed at having found such a miserable looking soldier being called up just before the war defeat. At the same time he is curious why they are calling up such soldiers. How were they handled by the Central Legion headquaters, with all the corruption he glimpsed in the behaviour the senior officials at the temporary prefectural office in the morning? Giving a cordial reply to the soldier who presented his wooden gun, Fujimura approaches the gate of the school. It is quite calm, with no noise from either from the schoolhouse neither or athletic grounds. He guesses the units from here are still in Hiroshima city for duties which may be different from Muramoto’s team. He puts his questions to the second private, standing straight upright with his wooden gun. “When were you called up?” “ ---------- “ “ What are the dutie of your unit?” He replies in a firm tone: “Despite the fact you’re a high-ranking officer, I cannot give you any information.” Thus, he refuses to tell Fujimura anything. “Yeah, you are right not to do so. Your captain must be an excellent person.” So Fujimura reacts. The guard suddenly presents arms. Fujimura follows his eyes, turns back, and discovers Second Lieutenant Egami getting off his bicycle, looking at them and grinning . “Trainee Officer Fujimura, what are you doing, picking a fight with a soldier of another unit?” Without replying to him, or giving a word to the guard, Fujimura starts walking with Egami. Egami says: “I returned to the prefecture in the evening and made up with the lieutenant colonel there in the morning. He gave me this.” Second Lieutenant Egami shows Fujimura a portion of the contents packed in a rag, that are tied up on top of the bike . “Let’s get drunk tonight, all of us.” Egami breaks his sunburned virile face into grin. Three bottles of Sake are bound on the bike. Lieutenant Muramoto soon returns to the base. Everybody gets together in front of the shrine. The three surgeons, the captain in the middle, sit straight. All clap their hands in prayer to God and make a toast. 107
Soldiers can only obtain alcohol two or three times a year in spite of its short supply during the war. The average allocation of sake has been about 5 shaku (90cc) per person. There were, however, always some non-drinkers who allowed others to have their share so they could sometimes get more drunk. Tonight, the soldiers are served sake in aluminium bowls, usually used for eating, which are filled to the brim. Drinking, they make toasts, led by the captain. The booze lasts for a while. Except some of the heavy drinkers, the majority get into a state of good humour after drinking about half of their allocation. They all know how Second Lieutenant Egami got the sake, however their mind seems to be preoccupied with the thought that a farewell is near. In the Kaguraden (A small structure for Shinto music and dance) as the late summer evening breeze blows through, soldiers, one after another, dedicate a Hyottoko dance (a dance with a funny mask) to the god of the shrine. Neighbours from the area gather around the dances and go into gales of laughter. Fujimura sobers up from his sake within the corridor of the shrine. A group of three sisters and their brother in the next room come close to him. The atmosphere naturally leads them into conversation. Their absent elder brother is also a surgeon, - a trainee officer - and is supposed to be somewhere in Kyushu ( the southern archipelago), but they have heard no news at all from him. They tell Fujimura one after another how they are worrying if their brother is alive and if he may come back to Hiroshima. “If your brother, being a year younger than me, is in Kyushu, he would not have been sent abroad. He will surely come back to Hiroshima.” Fujimura can do nothing but firmly encourage them, saying this, while hoping for it himself. The elder sister looks a little chubby and is not so talkative. The younger sister looks, on the contrary, to be more outgoing and talks clearly and briskly. The youngest boy, called “Tacchan,” and adored by his sisters, is obviously a little spoiled. He hangs around replying to his sisters and doesn’t stray from Fujimura. The sisters scold him for lumping Fujimura in with his far off elder brother . Following this evening, Fujimura, the surgeons, and the family in the next room naturally get closer to each other. They spend time after dinner together, every evening, around the anti- mosquito incense burners, three young officers who are surgeons, and their neighbours, a grandmother and her grand children who have lost their physician father, and mother at the same time, without having any news of them. The two neighbouring groups have spoken to each other and become close and by mere chance. But such kinds of relationships do not last long. 108
11. The Otagawa River In the morning, Second Lieutenant Egami, having followed up his work at laboratory for a while, takes his bicycle, as usual, and leaves for the city. Thanks to his help and advice, the quarantine operation in the city and at theprefecture administration seems ready to be restarted, making steady steps for preparation. According to the break down of the military leadership, local administrators, having been kept completely suppressed so far by the military, seem to be restoring their initiatives little by little in order to recover from all the damage from the war . As usual, Muramoto and Fujimura treat patients injured by the bomb, gathering at the shrine every morning, though their numbers are gradually decreasing day by day. Then the truck carries them together with some noncoms to the disaster area and soon arrives at the entrance of the Red Cross Hospital, their first destination. For some time, Muramoto has looked up, to the deputy director of the hospital as a role model and looks forward to meeting him whenever the chance allows, so that he may have learn from his, referring to the directorâ€™s patients on the spot. Muramoto, getting off the truck and ordering his people to wait around the corner, enters the hospital. Fujimura has sometimes gone with him if he felt like it. Today, however, he decides to stay outside the building and wait for his chief in the cool shade. They pick places to sit and go on stand-by position. They are supposed to execute direct feces sampling according to Muramotoâ€™s instructions. He is supposed to re-appear soon at the entrance. As usual, several bodies that took their last breaths the previous day are lying in the open space of the entrance. This time, there are three dead bodies there. Two, covered by blankets, have been placed in the shadows. The third one, totally naked, has somehow been left abandoned in the sun. It is bizarre scene, but one which can be seen everywhere in the city of Hiroshima today. This dead body is swollen up, already discoloured brown and is throwing off an awful stench. Fujimura, seeing it from a distance in a vacant manner, is buried in his own thoughts. Since August 6thhe has faced too many issues, all of which have been far beyond his capacity as a fledgling doctor. For example, he reminds himself of the number of the death certificates he had to sign and seal. There must have been hundreds of them. 110
He, a young man not yet even 30 years old, has had to see such numbers of people die. Some might justify it as being just an incident in the war. Nevertheless, he does not believe that there are other physicians who attended so many deaths in less than one month. He thinks that, though he is an inexperienced physician, he has done his best at all times. He, however, has no memory or feeling that his effort was rewarded even once. He totally despairs in himself and in the entire practice of medicine but he is also totally detached from any sort of hope in religion. When he was an infant, his distant maternal grand mother, an ardent believer of Shinshu, used to take him to the family temple in his mother’s hometown. In the temple, people would al chant “Nan-maida”(a part of Buddhist sutra) endlessly and repeat it as their regular duty. Little Fujimura was directed to join to the chant. On August 15th, early in the morning, when the team passed the bridge of the Motoyasu River, he felt strange hearing the two old soldiers chanting “Nan-maida” in loud voices, their hands stretched out in prayer towards the slews of dead bodies in the river. He remembered his taciturn grandmother, a . But a single “Nan-maida” was never released from his mouth. “Ah, it’s moving.!” Suddenly cackles one of the old soldiers, pointing out the dead body abandoned under the sun. “You, stupid idiot! How can you say a decaying dead body moves!” A non-com blusters him, still staring at the dead body. “Yet it’s, moving! Look at the belly,” A few of them cry instantly and run over to the dead body. Its discomposed belly, discoloured brown, swollen up fully, is moving as if it were alive. Moreover, its chest muscles on both sides even are sluggishly stirring. From the split flesh under the armpit, cherry red bubbles are spuming out. In the bubble, maggots, amazingly well-fed, come out one by one and wander into the shade behind the dead body’s back. The soldiers, shocked and stunned into silence, hear the noises, Sala, sala, sala, sala,,,,, Noises like a flowing fountain coming out from every part of the dead body penetrate into their ears. Dozens of young soldiers remain silent with their spirits totally depressed and collapse down under the shade. No one dares to say a word. « Sala, sala, sala, sala… » The noise keeps on sounding faintly in the bottom of the ears of Fujimura, like an afterimage seen often in the hot summer sun. The noise produced by the clouds of maggots, crushing in the dead 111
bodies, eating out some ten thousands… how many, nobody knows… of dead bodies, abandoned today in the ruins of Hiroshima, sound to him simply like the sound of brook deep in the mountains which purifies everything. He is filled with a sense of horror, feeling like he is almost witnessing the divine direction of nature. « Sala, sala, sala, sala… » Straining to hear the fresh stream-like sound, which will not leave his ears, he thinks: “Human beings, put defiantly under our planet’s heel, will one day perish away. The big cloud of maggots that eat out the dead bodies will be eaten out by something else and will perish away. Someone who might be allowed by the planet to govern it might exist on it for a certain period of time. What kind of creature would they be? I don’t care about it.” Such thoughts, seem to him totally alien from the quasi-religious feelings that flashed across his mind a minute ago. « Sala, sala, sala, sala... » The pure, faint tone sounds all day in the bottom of his ears. It will keep on sounding, somewhere in the air around him whether he is aware of it or not. After finishing the stool sampling at the Red Cross Hospital as scheduled, the team visits some wards and arrives at Koi Elementary School, the last stop of the day. The area was under the clouds produced by the atomic bomb just after it exploded and moved slowly west. It was exposed to the macabre black rain but escaped the fire. The school building is of modern ferroconcrete construction, a rare case in these days, with most buildings still being made out of wood. On the ground floor, there are still dozens of patients and their families. A tall lieutenant surgeon takes care of their treatment, directing three nurses apparently called out of the private sector nearby. While Muramoto discusses things with the lieutenant, Fujimura heads to the toilet to take a leak and wash his face. Three old men, apparently doctors, are preparing to go home in the tatami room next to the earthen floor entrance As he exits the earthern floor entrance without a word, one of the oldest doctors, maybe over 70 years old, calls out something to Fujimura Seeing the lapel badge of the Shipping Regiment Fujimura wears on his chest, he says “You look different somehow from the other surgeons of this area. You’re from Akatsuki Regiment, aren’t you? Why you are here?” “Yes sir, I am in charge of the bacteria tests of the patients with high fever and blood in their feces, frequently observed in every ward. Sorry for not introducing myself sooner. I am trainee officer Fujimura, servicing the quarantine station on Ninoshima Island.” Hearing this, the old doctor breaks into a rage, his mouth quivering. 112
“Patients with high fever and bloody feces today are absolutely not suffering from typhoid or dysentery. All of them are affected by Pica-don. When even an old man like me is called up and is requested to treat them, it is unpardonable to see young surgeons like you involved in such nonsense work.” “Yes sir, but this is the order,,,,,” “Order? Order this, order that! An order calls me here! No medicine, no hygiene products. Patients die one after another. How on earth is the army doing? “ “Doctor, you know, the army you’re talking about doesn’t exist any more,” ahe doctor who look the youngest of the three men , maybe around 50 chides his furious colleague, and asks Fujimura, “So, you’ve detected dysentery bacteria w?” “Yes sir, I would say it’s been identified. But only a little. I wouldn’t say it’s at epidemic level.”j “Aha, then they are infected carriers, aren’t they? But I’ve heard water and sewerage hasn’t disinfected for over a year or so. We should stay alert.” “Yes sir, we are aware of that, and have been running around the area to alert everyone.” Fujimura, thinking that only this doctor recognizes the situation correctly, bows to these elder doctors and leaves the toilet. And taking a deep breath, he thinks: “Even if dysentery becomes explodes and becomes an epidemic, those picky doctors will only criticize the government and will be no of use helping with medical treatment.” Waking in the corridor: “Discover, separation, disinfection, protective inoculation.” He repeats the quarantine rules of the operation order in his mouth like he’s chanting a sutra. He remembers the incident in Suma on an April evening this year. Chanting these 4 words, he was just about to leave the gate of another elementary school with his syringe in his hand. A guard was chasing him in a loud rude voice: “.Surgeon. .Surgeon.” He was in a hurry, exiting the school gate with his syringe, his prized possession, but without his military sword. The one suspended on his waist today is a just short sword, modified into military style to make it less cumbersome, and would be absolutely no use in a fight. “I’ll be saying goodbye to you too, soon” He thinks, addressing it . When he turns the corner, he sees some healthier patients calling out in their cheerful voices, hanging out of the windows. They are joking with people in the courtyard, who are digging beds for oriental pine trees lined by the trench of the court. He hears one of the patients say: 113
“The n.ewspaper says: ‘In the ruins of Hiroshima, no trees or grass will grow for the next 70 years ,,,,” They are tryingto plant rapeseed to see if it will grow or not. Fujimura talks to the chief surgeon of the ward, a lieutenant, who has also overheard the patients’ conversation. “It’ll be wonderful if they grow, won’t it?” “They will surely grow.” The lieutenant replies to him instantly, with confidence, pointing to the oriental pine trees with full green leaves along the trench. It turns cloudy in the sky, without their knowing it, after so many long-lasting fine days. It is the best climate for planting rapeseeds. Muramoto’s team, having finished their scheduled duty for the day, is going to pass the rail crossing of the Sanyo Line near Yokogawa station and cross over the Gion Ohashi Bridge. Clouds grow thicker. Chill wind passes through. Fujimura in the bed of the truck catches chills as if he has got a cold. The Ota River flowing from the far away eastern mountains, passes over the enclosing dam upstream near the bridge. A Shallow but wild stream passes under the bridge, then is soon separated into several branches one by one and forms the Hiroshima delta plain. « Sala, sala, sala, sala… » Again, the noise he heard at the Red Cross hospital this morning comes chattering back to the bottom of his ears. The noise, of the stream, reaching Fujimura who stands up in the bed of the truck passing the narrow bridge at a crawl, should probably sound louder than the faint noises he heard this morning. Strangely, however, they sound, the same as they did in the morning. The sounds return whenever he hears similar noises during the day. Oddly pure, the sounds that came out of the decomposing body start to be overlap any similar sounds he hears, harrassing him all day long. Each time he faces such circumstances, he is afraid he is incapable of distinguishing the noise actually he hears from that in the bottom his ears. He remembers the old man he saw the other day in front of the city hall who vanished right in front of him. He thinks,,, “Well, maybe I’m having a nervous breakdown.” The truck has passed the bridge and accelerates its speed. The road turns toward the right and runs along the river. The noise of the water flowing from the dike doesn’t leave his ears for some time. When the truck arrives at the base, everyone is involved in the busy end of the day work. His possible nervous breakdown appears to be forgotten. Fujimura returns to the house finishing miscellaneous duties after 114
dinner. The four people in the next room – the two sisters and their brother in the next room and their cousin, have been waiting for him expectantly and encircle him. He,, takes them for an evening walk, chattering about things randomly and comes back to the house. Tacchan spontaneously takes his hand. The young sister in the next room and her cousin, about same age, chatter lively or tease each other. The elder one always remains modest and does not talk to Fujimura briskly. Around mid-night Fujimura is awoken up by a disturbing dream. Where? He isn’t certain. In front of him, an amazingly gigantic guy, who looked like a black person, was pinning a girl down. He couldn’t see the face of the girl but it seemed to be the elder sister . She struggled to resist the guy, thrashing her arms and legs in vain, but and was kept pinned down by him. Fujimura, picking up a nearby stick, hit the guy on his back as hard as he could. His stick, nevertheless, simply bounced off the man’s back as if it had hit a rubber balloon. Wherever Fujimura struck, he did not feel any resistance and seemed to have been completely ignored. He hurried to look around for another weapon. He couldn’t find anything. The elder sister – if that’s who it really was - looked like like she was loosing her resistance. Fujimura woke up, exhausted. He is drenched in sweat but breathing normally. He suspects that he had the dream after having heard about the officer who escaped from Okinawa. Even though he shot and shot, the Americans never ceased to edge toward him. Their faces were all in black. So he recalled. A breeze slightly coming up occasionally blows into the room. Fujimura imagines it is already past midnight. But it doesn’t feel so late. He hears the sisters and their cousin chatting behind the mosquito net in the next room. The mosquito net in Fujimura’s room is dyed in green like the usual ones. The one set up in the next room is a white net in a light-blue pattern. A nightlight on in the narrow tatami corridor between the two rooms ensures the privacy inside the two nets. However, a breeze blowing through the tatami corridor sometimes happens to momentarily expose the inside of the net. The elder sister lies on her side, facing him. Beyond, theyounger sister lies on her back. In between, the cousin sits with his face toward him. 115
They are chatting among themselves. A breeze moves the mosquito net for a second and reveals the boy slipping his hand between the thighs of the elder sister. Her right hand holds his hand tightly. The three of them keep on chatting in a casual manner. The younger sister does not seem to notice the power play between them, happening beside her. Fujimura glimpses the scene for a moment. Other things happening behind the whitish mosquito net remain unclear. He senses the voices of the conversation of the three people in the next room peter out and then start to rise noisily into a quarrel between the boy and the elder sister. He slips out of the mosquito net, sits on the veranda and lights up a cigarette. He tries to think of what he just saw as an act of adolescents who are just 17 or 18 years old, and nothing to worry about. But he is still perplexed by it. The atmosphere in the next room turns harsher, then the elder sister darts out of the mosquito net to the veranda. She sits hugging her knees, pulling the hemline of her nightie, an uncommon possession to have in these days, to her feet. She shows her profile to Fujimura, who smokes his cigarette with his ashtray in front of him, and maintains her stiff silence for a while, looking out at the darkness outside. He imagines the boy inside the mosquito net, sitting motionless, wit nothing to do but just watch her back. He snuffs out his cigarette, puts on his shoes at the edge of veranda and stands up. She looks up at him silently. A confused compassion for her beyond words seizes him. He looks down at the girlâ€™s face for a while, then starts walking, turning his face away from her indifferently. Looking up at him, she stands up as if lured, puts on the sandals she left at the edge of the veranda, then follows Fujimura. They hear the boy behind the mosquito net, hiss something at her in a suppressed voice. They walk along the long veranda to the narrow lane between the barn and farmhouse, where she starts to walk side by side with him. He spontaneously wraps his arm around her shoulder. His lips softly touch her cheek. Her round shoulders and her wet cheek, touched by his dry lips, tremble slightly. He releases his grip on her shoulder and starts walking along the village road toward the river. He feels an urge to see the river. Fighting down an irresistible feeling, he walks along the road at night. A part of thick cloud in the southern sky suddenly drifts away. 116
The moon does not show its face from the cloud, but lights up the field around them. When they come up to the bank, they find themselves hand in hand, like kids. Fujimura senses someone is watching themh but he doesn’t care about it. They walk gently on the bank, pass the rear of the two farmhouses where he paid house calls the other day, guided by Kasuya, and keep on walking further along down the stream. Inside the bank of Ota River where the shallows curve widely toward Hiroshima City, a field of white sand is visible, even under the dim night light. They step down onto the wet summer grass and stand on the sand. In front of them, some shallow holes, forming the figure of a cross remain on the field. Fujimura stops before a small cross-shaped hole at the end of a line of holes and watches it for a while. He thinks, “This hole was probably used to cremate the body of a child.” The girl seems to realize immediately what he’s thinking. “Yes, it was the two year- old boy.” From her words, he realizes, ”Some of the people who escaped the explosion with her, were probably cremated here.” They sit down on the edge of sandy field. Beyond them, the shallows of theOta River are gleaming a bluish white, reflecting the night light getting brighter. The elder sister sitting beside him, takes up the same posture as she did earlier on the veranda, covering her knees with her nightie, putting her head on her arms which hug her knees, and stares absently at the river stream. Being caught again by mixed feelings of passion and empathy for her, he holds her soft shoulders and attempts to pull her toward him. She dares not move from her frozen posture, as if she’s a stone statue coming out of the sand. If the girl resists him or, on the contrary, leans over to him, the situation will be different. She reacts neither way but remains rigid like a stone statue. “Hey, I’m just doing the same thing the other boy did earlier.” The moment he finds himself blurting this, his desire wilts away immediately. He buries his forehead on her soft shoulder and tries to slow his harsh breathing. “Sala, sala, sala, sala…” The quiet sound of chatter comes up from the dark river and reaches his ears. 117
Listening intently to the sound, he feels his spirit turn ice cold. The chatter from the dark river seems to him, to come up from the bottom of her slightly chubby body, from where he rests his forehead and calms down his breathing. “Sala, sala, sala, sala.”t It’s the sound he heard coming out of the dead body, swollen up, brownand discolored, abandoned in the open space in front of the gate of Red Cross Hospital. “Sala, sala, sala, sala. » It’s the sound that has been echoing in his ears the whole day long. It’s the sound which has hit him during the day, that always randomly comes back to the bottom of his ears. His eyes closed, while he is calmly being taken into, the sound, he wonders if her passionless body, with his face buried into it starts to gradually become transparent. “Sala, sala, sala, sala.” Under the moon, the Ota River keeps flowing, making only the sound which has been caught his in ears all day long. Concentrating on the sound, he keeps his face on her stone-like shoulder, as it turns more and more transparent. After some time, he stands up, and, holding her arms, lets her stand up as well. He brushes off the sand on her back. The girl murmurs in a small voice, pointing with her suprisingly slim finger at the line of the cross-shaped holes. “I hate being here.” Fujimoto gives a big nod in agreement and taking her hand, climbs up the lane to the bank. “Yeah, that’ enough. We couldn’t do it any other way.” He tells himself so. She squatted down in the sand, where people who had escaped together from the blazing city were burned. And Fujimura, having buried his face in her soft shoulder, listened hard to the subtle sound foreshadowing that her body might perish away soon. Even thougha young man, 26 years of age, and a 19 year-old girl hold each other on the midnight riverside, they could not be drowned in a whirlpool of passion. “Yeah, there was no choice other than that.” Fujimura again persuades himself so, and realizes the depth of trauma to the adolescents caused by one atomic bomb. Standing on the bank, they see the ruins, the dome of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, far away, in black, under the moonlight. They plod forward on the road of the bank under the moonlight toward the upper part of the stream. The ruins of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry are soon hidden behind the mountain edge of the opposite side of the river. 118
The stream of the Ota River broadens and gleams, reflecting whitish blue lunar light. When they come down from the bank to the farm road, the girl walks a little behind him. They never talk to each other. Arriving at the farmhouse, they each go back inside their own mosquito nets. He soon drops off into sleep from all the fatigue during the day.
12. Farewell to Hiroshima. The month ofAugust 1945 when Hiroshima City has instantly turned into ruins is close to anend. You can feel autumn approaching. An order arrives that Muramoto’s team is to pull out of the base at Fuyuki Shrine and return to their headquarters on Ninoshima Island in three days. The base, which they established in three days of trial and error after Japan’s defeat on the August 15th, is pulled down quickly in only half a day. In the middle of working busily, Fujimura, is summoned by the younger sister and Tacchan. They all move to the shaded area behind the shrine. The younger sister, a very independent-looking girl, hands him a notebook with a red cover. “Write down your name and the name of your unit in this notebook. My big sister absolutely wants to know them.” On the first page of the small red covered notebook, Fujimura writes down the requested information and draws a long cross over the wide blank space. It does not symbolize his religious faith. He draws the shape of the holes in the riverside which he saw with her elder sister last night. Whispering, the younger sister repeats what he’s written down, then points to the cross he’s drawn in the blank space and asks him in a small voice, “What is it? Does it mean somebody’s going to die?” Fujimura doesn’t say a word, blinking, like an old man, his eyes fill with the menacing look typical of the Yasen-geban (the veterans coming back from battlefronts in China), often bruited abroad spoken about by soldiers. That day, in the evening, Muramoto’s team returns to the island. Fujimura is incorporated into the Army reserve and is commissioned Surgeon, Second Lieutenant. Needless to say, other surgeons and veteran non coms are also promoted by one rank. Among the newly commissioned second lieutenants, some say “Well, we have been overworked and in every aspect been discriminated against by rank. Today the rumor d says that all officers risk being tried as a war criminals. It’s nonsense to receive a new commission which does not function any more.” Captain Amano, the adjutant, admonishes them: “There is a big difference in the retirement allowance between a lieutenant and a trainee officer. Put your logic aside and take what brings you more.” 120
They are obliged to follow the decision. During the absence of Fujimura and other colleagues, the runaway plan of the group around Veterinary Lieutenant Esaki seems more and more to come to a head. Their original plan was to take one comparatively healthy horse from among the sick horses kept in quarantine squad, under cover of night on a small motor vessel, and requisite a cart on the opposite shore. After getting on the cart, they would run away deep into the mountains ofTajima or Tanba and hide themselves in the remote mountains far from any town until the end of war. Undeniably the plan put their lives at risk . However, the endof the war changes one aspect of the plan: Today the participants are limited within those who are from near his home prefecture, Oita . Thus, the serious plan is changed into a quite peaceful and pleasant trip by horse cart. Their biggest and only concern is if they can pass through the Kanmon tunnel (between Honshu and Kyushu), reported to have been completed recently. Additionally, now that the war is done, their plan to return to their home country, put their heads together, will be achieved accompanied by continuous and cheerful laughter, now entirely free from fear of air raids. Fujimura and others encourage the team, saying their trip will remain their best and last souvenir of their younger days. Muramoto and other surgeons in reserve duty, including those who are to return beyond Kanto region, decide to hire a coastal vessel, pass the Ondonoseto straits, arrive at Itozaki and take a train to go back to their homes. Some have objected to this plan since it might risk touching off sea mines, planted in the strategic straits during the war. Finally it is decided the plan is to be executed as originally planned. In the evening, the party is to leave the quarantine pier of Ninoshima Island. Lieutenant Colonel Hirota, Second Lieutenant Egami and all the others, now commissioned by The Ministry of Health of the quarantine operation onthe Island to oversee those who will return from overseas, see the party off. A farewell song happens to come out among the parties are headingoff to the sea under the evening twilight,seeing them off on the pier: â€œThe evening departure of your boat. Missing you so. On the waves in the dark, Snow falls and melts away. Canâ€™t see your boat any more, a short farewell song remains on the sea. Lovers singing out at sea seem to sympathize with our weeping.â€? They keep on singing the song, which lingers on the sea, already in the darkness. Third Lieutenant Kasuya often returns to villages near the good old shrine for the procurement, pretending to attend to the backlog of their party. 121
He also brings back messages to Fujimura from the elder sister who was in the next room, who eagerly wants to see him again. The messages are brought to him two times. The first one reaches him in the evening of his departure from Hiroshima to Niigata and Fushiki as he is performing the duties of an orderly officer, passing out detailed orders to the quarantine sections in two cities on how to dispose of materials at the as the party disperses on the spot. Multiple air-raids have destroyed almost all functions of the cities. The railroads connecting them are also in a disastrous situation. Demobilized soldiers from various fronts move on masses to east and west. Fujimura’s mission has been an incredible trip . It is not until four days after his departure that he can get back to headquarters in Ninoshima island after having completed his mission. The Headquarters ofVessel Information Regiment at Nisinoniya City has bissued orders for Fujimura to come back urgently. This was three days ago. He has to leave Hiroshima tomorrow morning even though Kasuya has just brought him her second message . On the morning of the departure, Lance Corporal Hanaki, and two veterinary non-coms at 13th medical ward with whom he endured hard times see Fujimura off to the Hiroshima station from the island. Three upbound trains are stranded in the Hiroshima station, having been totally destroyed by fireburnt. Nobody knows when they will depart amember of the station staff says, pointing out one train that will leave earlier. Fujimura asks some demobilized soldierss in a nearly over-flowing open-wagon to spare a small space for him and gets on the train. He suggests three of them go back now to the island. The Three soldiers who elect to go are reluctant to leave him for a while. “ Well, surgeon, look after yourself.” Upon uttering such words, they walk away. Two groves on the mountain side north of Hiroshima station, discolored immediately after the explosion have remained yellow, and are now turning brown already, clearly contrasting with the other deep green groves around. Just over the mountain, the main stream of the Ota river flows. It was there his unit set up their base when they ran about the city for about two weeks. Fujimura feels a slight twinge of remorse, thinking about the elder sister in the next room. He could not even ask her what her name was. Still, he immediately says to himself as he did when the two of them stood up together on the river bank under the moonlight, “It’s all right like this.” 122
After a while, the train suddenly starts to move. The demobs, who are walking around or taking a piss beside the tracks, hurryto jump into the slowly moving train . The mountain surface, having turned brown, is gradually backing away with the slow speed of the train. Turning his eye towards the opposite side, to the south, the figure ofAkikofuji mountain, having been a familiar sight to him every morning and evening, stands over the spectacular burnt ruins of Hiroshima city. And it is going to vanish behind Mt. Hiji as the speed of the train further accelerates.
Postscript When I serialized this story in The Industrial Health Journal, I visited Hiroshima several times. I also met Dr. Kinya Murata, in Takasaki City and Dr. Tadashi Kawakami in Tsuruga, who were my superior officers on Ninoshima Island. I found that the two doctors had tried to forget Hiroshima during the years they had lived after the war. Eventually, considerable mismatches in our memories were recognized. It was finally discerned among themselves that the only way to accurately tell the story of Ninoshima was to have the young man who spent his military life as a surgeon army irregular tell it with an incomplete memory. In parallel, I met Professor Ukon (Vice President, Hiroshima Medical Association), a respected senior of ours in the field of industrial health, and Mr. Sugata (Deputy Director of Science Division of Hiroshima Medical Association), men who had been involved in academic research for many years. They gave me many precious materials and information. Also Dr. Tadashi Hiraoka in Osu City, a former teacher in the army, and Professor Moritomi ofTohoku University, my superior officer on Ninoshima Island gave me invaluable detailed advice. The characters in “The Atomic Bomb Victims on Ninoshima” have assumed names. Some are adapted. I admit that my memories are not perfect to complete the medical descriptions with total accuracy. Yet I have done my best to assure the most accurate descriptions, referring to various documents published by The Hiroshima Medical Association. Shuoshi Mizuhara, haiku poet, said that truth in literature and truth in fact are completely different. I felt I began to understand his assertion in the progress of writing this book. Ochibasanto Shishu no tsuchi wo Kazarunari. (Falling leaves, shining, decorate the soil with stench of death.) In autumn 1960, I visited Hiroshima for the first time after the war. It was a memorable year. Professor Masao Tsuzuki gave his lecture on atomic-bomb disease in February, for the first time since the war ended, at The Hiroshima Rural Medicine Association. Until then, the occupation of Japan by the U.S. military had discouraged people from openly arguing on the subject. Also, it was an era when Japan began to enjoy its high economic growth. Professor Tsuzuki remarked at the end of his lecture: “It might sound attractive when we hear words of the peaceful use of nuclear power. “It would be, however, too cruel for the remaining victims of atomic bomb to ask them directly for their cooperation in collecting the information 124
concerned, sacrificing themselves for the happiness of human beings in the futureâ€Śâ€? I have warned on various occasions that engineers are apt to be attracted to use technologies even though they are incomplete. The technology to facilitate nuclear fission is surely the biggest technological achievement in this century, aside from the argument on its merits and demerits. Such technology can only be considered to be complete when the technology on its safety management has been established. This applies to any technological development. To use an incomplete part of technology as a tool of mass murder amounts to nothing more than a fanatical invention -- totally different from the philosophy of technology. War, a barbaric behavior, is unavoidable when technology follows so easily such fanatical paths. In closing, I pray sincerely for the repose of the souls of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. by Mitsuru Suzumura
This photo was taken in the 1 960s when he was working as a doctor.
On the Occasion ofthe Publication ofâ€œAtomic Bomb Victims on Ninoshima -- Diary ofa Young Surgeonâ€?
by Tadashi HIROOKA In the summer of 1944, dozens of trainee officers who had graduated from the military surgeon college in Beijing were posted to the Marine Legion and underwent training for about one month at the training division at Ujina-cho, Hiroshima City. The knowledge necessary to be a marine soldier was instilled in them by groups of ten instructors, including three medical instructors like me. Mr. Suzumura was one of my trainees. After the training, trainees went to their new posts at respective units of the Marine Legion. Mr. Suzumura worked as a surgeon, in the marine intelligence regiment, having been deployed along Osaka Bay. Type A paratyphoid virus continued to break out in the area. In order to support his treatment team, I dispatched Lieutenant Suganuma two times from the Ninoshima quarantine station to the area. In 1896, at the end of Japan-China War, by the proposition of Mr. Shinpei Goto, the Count, General Kodama created three quarantine stations, among which Ninoshima Quarantine Station played its central role. The surgeons there achieved remarkable results in preventing some hundreds of thousands of soldiers returning from overseas battlefields from bringing epidemics, such as cholera, into the country. Since then, during the occasional overseas deployments of troops, quarantine operations for returning soldiers have been continuously carried out. Toward the end of 1944, when Japan already seemed certain to lose the war, the number of vessels was getting scarce. Type A paratyphoid, seemingly of the southern type, spread one by one among the units of the marine regiment deployed along the coast. At the end of June 1945, the Epidemic Prevention Division was formed (as per attached) with surgeons, specialists of bacteriology and noncoms of the Ninoshima Quarantine Station as its core, having called up surgeons and others from other units deployed in the country. I was assigned as the general manager of the division. The First Epidemic Prevention Squad was stationed in Kanmon Area and Fuzan (Korea). The Second Epidemic Prevention Squad had its headquarters in Niigata and had branch stations, according to necessity, at Fushiki or Sakai and other places. The Third, Fourth, and War-house Epidemic Prevention Squads were based on Ninoshima Island. They supported the epidemic prevention activities of the marine units in the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean 126
In military hygiene, it is hygiology and bacteriology which form the core of epidemic prevention. Lieutenant Suganuma, the leader of the Third Epidemic Prevention Squad, was a specialist of bacteriology with an academic atmosphere around him. Lieutenant Murata, the leader of the Fourth Epidemic Prevention Squad was a big brother type and proved his leadership among young officers. Captain Nagata assisted me, coordinating those people in our unit. In July 1945, the Marine Hygiene Division moved their headquarters to Ninoshima Island headed by Lieutenant Colonel Otani, my senior. They brought with them a fairly large volume of drugs and hygiene materials, which served fully in the rescue activities of later days. At 15 minutes past 8 in the morning on August 6th, an atomic bomb exploded high in the sky 600 meters from Gokokuji Shrine. More than one hundred thousand citizens lost their lives. But our quarantine station situated behind the mountainside ofAkikofuji sustained only minimum damage and no human injuries in our units. I think we may have been of some assistance in the rescue of more than ten thousand sufferers but I admit forthright that the damage of the bombs was so huge in volume and in its nature that its damage was far beyond our sleepless efforts. I, as a physician, hope I never have to attend to such a heartrending catastrophe again. In closing my note, I sincerely pray for the repose of the souls of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Tadashi Hirooka was former General
Manager, Marine Epidemic Prevention Division, also in charge of Hygiene Section, Ninoshima Branch, Temporary Army Quarantine Station Quarantine Section, Ujina Repatriate Support Division.
Published on Jul 11, 2013