Second-generation A-bomb victim Nobuto Hirano has been helping Korean atomic bomb survivors for almost three decades now. Although the Little Boy and the Fat Man were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, there were also thousands of Korean victims of the atomic explosions. Despite criticism from fellow Japanese, Hirano has continued to carry out his advocacy for the hibakusha who also deserve compensation but were neglected.
Hirano was still inside his mother’s womb when Nagasaki was bombed 68 years ago. The blast may have not given him direct exposure but he experienced first hand exposure to its direct victims through his family. Besides his mother, his grandmother and sisters were also direct victims of the Fat Man. Growing up, Hirano said that a number of his friends died later on because of leukemia, just one of the complications from the infamous day that changed the course of Japan. Hirano became aware of the atomic bomb’s non-Japanese victims while in South Korea in 1987. When he was still an elementary school teacher, he first met Korean A-bomb survivors. At that time, he learned that the Koreans who were forced into labour in Japan, also became victims of the atomic bombing, but received nothing from the Japanese government as compensation nor was any help given for their medical needs. He said that the Korean hibakusha have lived miserable lives, some without jobs and have even experienced discriminated. “That was when I made up my mind to help South Korean A-bomb victims.” Hirano said.
Throughout Hirano’s 27 years of advocacy for Korean A-bomb victims, he was able to raise funds mostly from his own salary and donations from people he personally knows. He has also helped win the lawsuits filed by the Korean survivors, all 40 cases. “Korean forced laborers and A-bomb victims reminded Japanese of the fact that they were the inflictors,” shared Hirano, who wants Japan to take responsibility for what atrocious acts it during World War II. Despite the setbacks experienced, Hirano’s efforts were not in vain. “I am glad that although most Japanese people are not aware of the existence of Korean forced laborers or Korean A-bomb victims, many citizens at least in Nagasaki now know about it,” he said. The 1982 children’s book Hiroshima no Pika (Flash of Hiroshima) mentioned that there were also Russians, besides Koreans, who became victims of the atomic bombings. There were also Australians who suffered from the explosion when they were taken as captives and brought to a POW (prisoner-of-war) camp in Nagasaki. Just this April, 93-year old Allan Chick, considered the last living Australian A-bomb survivor, appealed to the Japanese Government for medical support.