Tea with Keiko Ogura

Keiko Ogura was 8 years old when she was exposed to the atomic bomb that the US dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. She was a little less than a mile and a half from where the bomb was dropped. Ogura went on to graduate from Hiroshima Jogakuin University in 1959 and in 1962 married to Kaoru Ogura, the director of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum as well as a secretary general of Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. After her husband’s death in 1979, Keiko became an interpreting coordinator for peace-movement visitors from abroad and was delegated as the official teller of Hiroshima A-bomb experience in English by Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation in 2011.

Her testimony of the events following the US drop of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima can be found here:


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Ogura stated in her testimonial:

“Over the past thirty years, I have interpreted the testimonies of various atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha) on the one hand, while on the other communicating my own experience in English to the people of the world. I do this because I do not want humankind to ever again experience the horror caused by nuclear weapons. I know that retribution and hatred mean nothing under that mushroom cloud, and that the people of the world share the same fate.”

I got the chance to spend twenty minutes drinking tea with Keiko Ogura, and she spoke about the harm that the nuclear attack did on her city and her community in 1945, as well as how people are still suffering the effects of it in Japan. Before our twenty minutes were up, I asked her what she thinks we as Americans have a responsibility to do at this moment in history, as the president of the US moves to increase the nuclear arsenal and loosen restrictions on using them for the first time since the end of the Cold War.

“Why [can’t] Americans… understand the menace of nuclear weapons? Why [does] he need to increase numbers? Maybe…”

At this moment, the people leading the event came over and let Ms. Ogura know that her time was up with us, and it was time to move onto the next group. Ms. Ogura looked back at me and tried to sum up the answer to my question in a few words:

“Let’s work together. Network with other young people. Share knowledge. We all have a different way.”

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midwestern librarian, writer, activist

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