University News

Hiroshima survivor calls for peace

Contributing Writer
Friday, February 25, 2011

“As long as we live on this Earth, we have a responsibility to keep it a happy Earth,” said Shigeko Sasamori, a survivor of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, last night during her talk in Salomon 101 about her life and anti-war philosophy. Sasamori was one of 25 Japanese women, known as the Hiroshima Maidens, who were chosen to travel to the United States and receive reconstructive surgery for injuries caused by the bomb.

Sasamori began with a detailed narrative account of the day of the bombing, and of the ensuing chaos as citizens fled the city and tried to reunite with their families. “If there is a hell, that was a hell,” she said.

Severely burned, Sasamori survived and spent months incapacitated and barely conscious as her parents helped her recover.

She said her life in the United States was not colored by lingering animosity from the war and that she saw wartime and peacetime as two separate worlds.

“When I came to America, all the people were so nice, and they didn’t do (the bombing). The government did it,” she said.

Sasamori recounted the famous story of Sadako Sasaki, a Hiroshima survivor who tried and failed to survive radiation-induced leukemia by making 1,000 paper cranes. Sasamori emphasized the importance of peaceful messages like Sadako’s.

The talk was presented by the Japanese Culture Association and sponsored by the East Asian Studies and History departments, University Finance Board and Global Zero, an organization dedicated to the eradication of nuclear weapons. Sasamori is one of only a few Hiroshima survivors practiced enough in English to give talks to English-speaking audiences, said Chishio Furukawa ’12, event chair.

Members of the JCA worked over the past two weeks to construct 1,000 paper cranes of their own, which decorated the stage as Sasamori spoke, and will soon be sent to Hiroshima as a message of peace from Brown, Furukawa said.

This year, the JCA wanted to expand its scope beyond their usual cultural awareness events like Japanese food banquets to address social and political issues as well, said Takeru Nagayoshi ’14, who helped organize the event.

Nagayoshi added that the JCA’s main focus was not to incite argument about the ethics of the 1945 bombing, but rather to “keep it simply a story to share with the Brown community.”

Audience members said they appreciated Sasamori’s talent for storytelling.

“You could tell she was living in the story,” said Francis Suh ’13, “It was great to see she was so optimistic about the future and had so much faith.”

To stay up-to-date, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

Comments are closed.

Comments are closed. If you have corrections to submit, you can email The Herald at