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Hiroshima Survivors Visit The Harvey School

Hiroshima A-bomb survivor Masakuza Saito shows Harvey School sophomore Giana Yang, an international student from China staying with a host family in Katonah, one of his watercolors he uses to illustrate his experiences at a school assembly. Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Harvey School
A-bomb survivor Hideto Matsurra shares his experiences with Harvey students at a special assembly April 27. Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Harvey School

KATONAH, N.Y. -- Two survivors of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945 visited The Harvey School on Tuesday to share their stories and voice their hopes for a nuclear-free future.

The visitors, 92-year-old old Masakazu Saito and 69-year-old Hideto Matsuura, are members of Japan’s Nihon Hidankyo, a national organization of survivors of the two atomic bombs dropped by the United States who sought to force a Japanese surrender in World War II. The atomic bombings, which killed an estimated 129,000 people and injured thousands more, prompted Japan to surrender about three weeks later, resulting in the end of six years of warfare.

Saito described in detail the many injuries he sustained, being left for dead and having his body piled with corpses in a crematorium until he awoke three days after the attack on Hiroshima. At the time, he was a 20-year-old army communications platoon leader living in his barracks located only about five kilometers from the bomb's epi-center.

The younger Matsurra was in his mother’s womb when the bomb was dropped. While Matsurra has no history of illness stemming from the bombing, his mother suffered many injuries from the shards of glass that struck her body when the attack occurred. He feels very lucky, but he acknowledged that many people of his generation suffered from the exposure to the extraordinary high levels of radiation emitted with the detonation of the bomb, with serious health problems occurring both early on in their lives and in the later years.

The two hibakusha, the Japanese word meaning “survivors of the atomic bombs,” chose to visit Harvey while staying in New York for the 2015 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference this week.

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