POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 3, 2010
Fumiye Miho spent weeks tending to the injured and pulling bodies from the rubble after the 1945 atomic bomb explosion in Hiroshima, Japan.
Miho wondered why her life was spared and dedicated her life as a peacemaker and humanitarian, said niece Mariko Miho.
Fumiye Miho died Oct. 31 at Pali Momi Medical Center. She would have been 96 yesterday.
Miho was born in Wailuku, the fifth of eight children, to Katsuichi and Ayano Miho. After she graduated from Maui High School in 1935, she attended the University of Hawaii, where she was active in the Oriental Institute.
Miho later traveled to Japan, where she taught English at a women's college. While there, World War II broke out, and Miho, stripped of her American citizenship, was forced to stay for several years, Mariko Miho said.
On the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, she and some of her family members missed a train heading to Hiroshima. As they stood at the train station, 10 miles from the city, Miho heard a noise and saw a "blinding flash and a tulip-shape of pastel-colored smoke floating into the sky," according to an excerpt in the book "House Divided: Seven Japanese American Families in World War II," by Tomi Kaizawa Knaefler, a former Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter.
Miho, who was raised a Buddhist, became a Quaker.
She regained entry to Hawaii in 1947 under the category of "stranded refugee" as an American citizen who was unable to return to the nation after 1941, Mariko Miho said.
Miho was sought by many to speak about her experience as an eyewitness to the Hiroshima bombing. She traveled throughout the country, representing the Quakers at world peace conferences, speaking about peace, humanitarianism and her opposition to weapons of mass destruction.
In 1953 she obtained a bachelor's degree from the Yale Divinity School. Miho worked as a missionary in the slums of New Haven, Conn., and at an orphanage in North Carolina. She again traveled to Japan, where she served as director of a neighborhood center for refugees in Tokyo. Miho later taught English and religion at various schools and colleges before she retired and returned to Hawaii in 1991.
She also was an active member of the Young Women's Christian Association.
Mariko Miho described her aunt as a crusader with integrity who stood up for what she believed in.
"She was a pacifist, peacemaker and passionate humanitarian," she said.
Friend June Shimokawa, former YWCA executive director, said, "She certainly was a staunch advocate of justice."
"That really was her hallmark. She was fearless in terms of standing for nonviolence and against racism and unafraid to speak her mind," Shimokawa said.
Bishop Yoshiaki Fujitani of the Hawaii Kyodan and director of the Buddhist Study Center in Honolulu regarded Miho as an older sister, holding her in high regard.
"She embraced people of all different faiths," he said. "She was very outspoken. She was highly respected in the interreligious community."
Miho is survived by brother Katsugo, numerous nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and caregiver Noemi Antonio. A private funeral service will be held tomorrow.