Ms. Mariko Higashino

Age: 64
Location: Hiroshima
Distance from hypocenter: Second Generation

“I am a second generation hibakusha.
I work as a legacy successor to tell the stories of my mother, who was exposed to the atomic bomb at age 17 and my grandmother, who worked as a chief nurse at the military hospital.
In a decade, there will be nearly no one left to recount first hand experiences about the atomic bomb.
I feel a strong sense of duty to communicate the terrors of the atomic bomb, the tragedies and cruelties of war and the virtue of peace to members of the future generation.
Natural disasters are beyond our control; however, war is a deliberate act initiated between humans. Hence, it can also be prevented by humans. I believe that anything can be resolved through dialogue.
World peace is not a distant concept; rather, it is something that can be cultivated by each and every one of us. It is created when each person makes an effort – regardless of their class, status or situation – to sow the seeds of peace into the heart of one other person. I believe that the human spirit trumps all.

Higashino Mariko”

“The word ‘second generation hibakusha’ did not become ubiquitous until I was about 20. Everyone around me was ‘second generation,’ so to speak – there was never really a need to distinguish ourselves. In fact, I was not aware of my status as a second generation hibakusha until I got a medical exam notice from the ABCC (Atomic Bomb Casualty Council). It was a routine letter that they sent out to us nisei once we turned 20.

That was around the time when my mother revealed to me that I had an older brother, who passed away on August 18, 1945. He was an infant when he was exposed to the atomic bomb. Though he survived the initial blast, dark spots began to form all over his body. He refused to drink my mother’s breastmilk. He passed away 12 days after the bombing. My older brother had found out when he checked his birth certificate upon applying for university when he was 18. He had lived his entire life thinking he was the eldest, only to find out that he was a jinan (second eldest). Needless to say, this came as a shock to us.

I had no health issues to speak of, and lived a relatively normal life. Upon graduating high school, I went to junior college and took up an administrative job at an insurance company. That year, the danjokoyouhinkinhou (law of equal employment for both sexes) was implemented. I was the only woman working at the Hiroshima branch of my company. I was scrutinized greatly by both my juniors and superiors. It wasn’t until retirement when I began to spend more quality time with my mother, and decided to become a legacy successor to tell her story.

I heard my mother’s full story among 180 other legacy successor students for the first time in 2012, when I was 60 years old.”

1945 is a documentary project created by Haruka Sakaguchi.
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