A south wind blows in Nagasaki as a reminder
White clouds drifted high above the bronze memorial that forms the centerpiece of the Nagasaki Peace Park on Thursday. The breeze was blowing from the south, just as it did on Aug. 9, 1945.
Katsuki Masabayashi, 68, was catching cicadas on that breezy day 62 years ago. A split second after the blinding flash, he felt the tremendous blast. A piece of bamboo pierced his belly, and he instinctively cried out for his father, even though he knew he had already died in the war.
His younger sister, whom he was carrying piggy-back, shuddered and moaned, "Mommy." Masabayashi described these moments as he read his "plea for peace" during Thursday's ceremony to mark the 62nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
"The act must never be justified, whatever one's position or personal reasons may be," he stated firmly, his voice carrying above the incessant droning of cicadas.
Charles Sweeney, the chief pilot of the B-29 plane that dropped the A-bomb and changed the lives of Masabayashi and many other Nagasaki citizens forever, returned to the city the following month.
Standing in the ruins of ground zero, Sweeney raised his head to gaze at the blue sky.
In his memoir, "War's End: An Eyewitness Account of America's Last Atomic Mission," Sweeney recalls he felt neither regret nor remorse for what he had done, firmly convinced that Japan's wartime leaders were to blame.
A Roman Catholic, Sweeney never knew that the Urakami area of Nagasaki leveled by the bombing was home to one of the highest concentrations of Catholics in Japan. * Home of the faithful * Until his death in 2004 at 84, Sweeney held fast to the "argument of the parties who dropped the bombs"--that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki speeded up Japan's surrender.Kokura, the primary target on Aug. 9, lay under a dense blanket of smoke from an earlier U.S. air strike, making it impossible to see from the air. After three aborted attempts to release his deadly payload, Sweeney decided to take his chance on his second target--Nagasaki.
The city was overcast. But a momentary break in the cloud cover appeared. It was 74 hours and 47 minutes after the Hiroshima atomic bombing.
So a series of inevitable and accidental events sealed Nagasaki's fate. The second A-bomb earned Sweeney a decoration and brought death to 74,000 people directly under the blast.
Fumio Kyuma had to resign as defense minister in July after he said the atomic bombing "could not be helped." And voters in the July 29 Upper House election passed harsh judgment on the ruling coalition.
The path to complete nuclear disarmament, something that Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors fervently pray for, remains as arduous as ever.
Another Nagasaki A-bomb anniversary has come and gone. It was as if the south wind blowing in Nagasaki was saying "wake up."
--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 10(IHT/Asahi: August 11,2007)