HIROSHIMA >> Fukuo Dogochi, a 90-year-old survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing in 1945, said he does not have confidence in his health since his strength weakened following gallstone surgery last year. He has long dedicated his time to sharing personal experiences of the attack.
“I thought I’d decline to work as a storyteller,” said Dogochi, who lives in Akiota, Hiroshima Prefecture.
Hiroshima marked the 74th anniversary of the U.S. attack on Aug. 6; the bombing killed 140,000 people and led to the end of World War II.
But despite not feeling well, Dogochi shared his memories with about 40 junior high school students in May.
“It happened when I was around your age,” Dogochi said as he started his account. He talked about how he was exposed to radiation when he entered the devastated city of Hiroshima six days after the atomic bomb dropped.
The young Dogochi saw smoke rising from a wooden utility poll, which looked like a candle. He also saw many injured people lined up at a station. The students listened to him attentively during his hourlong account.
Several days after talking to the students, Dogochi coughed up blood. He reflected in that moment how unfair his fate was: In his younger days, he was ordered to fight against even bombs with a bamboo pike, and he was exposed to radiation.
Ultimately, the storyteller felt renewed resolve to tell others about his life until his last moment.
His latest health scare made him consider more seriously how to pass his experiences on to younger generations. His plan: to nurture “successors” by establishing a group of children of atomic bombing survivors who are willing to work as storytellers.
“I’m wondering how much today’s children can understand those years,” Dogochi said. “Even so, we have to keep talking about them.”