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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 27 - April 2  > 92-year-old JCP activist narrates stories about Hiroshima A-bombing for younger generations
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2019 March 27 - April 2 [PEACE]

92-year-old JCP activist narrates stories about Hiroshima A-bombing for younger generations

March 27, 2019

Akahata ‘current’ column

In his student days during WWII, Tsugimatsu Toshio was taught to refer to Japan as “Great Japan”. When he failed to add “great”, he was beaten by his teacher. At that time, students, as well the rest of Japanese people, were required to be willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the Emperor. As a result of the militarist education, Tsugimatsu entered the military before becoming of draft age. He would have died as a “human torpedo” suicide bomber if Japan had not surrendered when it did.

Tsugimatsu was born and raised in the peaceful mountainous town of Aya in Miyazaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan. He is now 92 years old but still active in talking in public about his wartime experiences to younger generations. Tsugimatsu on March 8 visited a junior high school in Aya Town to tell students about the misery and horrors of war. He cannot forget the expressions on the faces of students who were listening to him as if they were hearing a story about an alien world.

Tsugimatsu experienced the horrors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima when he was a student at the naval academy in Hiroshima’s Etajima City. Based on this experience, he speaks about the catastrophic effects of the atomic attack. He often talks about the time when he saw A-bomb victims brought into a hospital one after another following the nuclear explosion. Victims’ bodies were mutilated so badly that tears kept flowing from Tsugimatsu’s eyes. As a living witness to the atomic tragedy, Tsugimatsu resolves to work to eliminate this inhumane weapon from the face of the earth.

Tsugimatsu compiled townspeople’s personal experiences in the war into a book. In the book, some of the contributors describe the kill-or-be-killed situation on the battlefield and others recall memories of hunger and hardships at prisoner-of-war camps. One of them suffered regret and anguish until the last moment.

After the war, Tsugimatsu joined the Japanese Communist Party and served eleven terms as a member of the Aya Town Assembly. He still remembers how much surprise he felt when he studied modern history after the war. He learned that during the wartime, JCP members risked their lives to oppose Japan’s war of aggression. At that moment of realization, Tsugimatsu decided to join the party and devote the rest of his life to the cause of peace.

Currently, the Abe government is attempting to turn Japan back into a war-fighting country. Under this situation, local elections will take place in many cities and towns across the nation within a few weeks. The 92-year-old JCP activist is determined to help as many JCP candidates as possible to win seats, knowing that more JCP seats will mean a better chance to protect Japan’s pacifism.
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