A comic tells the stories of atomic bomb survivors who moved to Brazil



HIROSHIMA — A Portuguese-language comic strip incorporating the experiences of the hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors, who moved to Brazil after World War II, and their narrative accounts of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, has been published, with a copy in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

A scene from the Projeto HIBAKUSHA comic can be seen in this image provided by Guilherme Profeta. The Grim Reaper is seen landing in the city of Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m., August 6, 1945, the day of the American atomic bombing, saying, “Today is going to be a very busy day.”

The 157-page book, titled “Projeto HIBAKUSHA” (Hibakusha Project), was written, illustrated and designed by Brazilians. Guilherme Profeta, a 32-year-old professor at the University of Sorocaba in Sao Paulo, Brazil, got involved with the project hoping to use it as learning material to pass on the memories of bomb survivors. atomic to the younger generation.

A scene from the comic depicts an interview where Profeta sat down with 97-year-old Takashi Morita and 79-year-old Junko Watanabe – both Hiroshima atomic bomb survivors who currently live in Brazil.

At 21, Morita was on duty as a military police officer on a street in an area about 1.5 kilometers from the hypocenter of Hiroshima city. After World War II, he emigrated from Japan to Brazil in February 1956, in the context of the Japanese government’s migration policy. There he raised two children born in Hiroshima, and in 1984 he established the Association of Atomic Bomb Victims in Brazil, which played a pivotal role in expanding support for atomic bomb survivors residing in Brazil. Brazil and in the transmission of oral accounts of the atomic explosion. bombing raid.

Watanabe was found out by her parents at age 38 that she had been exposed to a radioactive “black rain” that fell immediately after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. She started speaking openly about her experiences as she felt the need to express her inner thoughts as a hibakusha.

Takashi Morita, an atomic bomb survivor living in Brazil, right, and Guilherme Profeta are seen in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in this November 16, 2018 file photo provided by Profeta.

The comic features the Grim Reaper to convey the image of “death” Profeta felt during his trip to Hiroshima, which occurred after his interview with the two hibakusha. In the work, the Grim Reaper lands in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m. and says, “Today is going to be a very busy day. Profeta hopes that through his version of the story of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing, people will be encouraged to “know our story, to avoid repeating it, and to think about their own ways of telling it, to ensure that people will continue to share and listen to this.”

Priscila Nakajima, 30, a graphic designer and fourth-generation Japanese-Brazilian whose maternal grandfather has roots in Hiroshima, said it wasn’t until she was involved in the production of the comic that she realized that there were people around her who had suffered the atomic bombing. She commented, “We can’t erase what happened in the past, but we can keep telling this story, so it won’t happen again.”

Graphic designer Priscila Nakajima, who participated in the production of Projeto HIBAKUSHA, is seen in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima prefecture, in this January 9, 2020 file photo provided by Profeta.

As of March 2020, 13,365 Brazilian reals (approximately $2,600) have been raised through crowdfunding, and 600 copies of the approximately B5-sized comic have been released. The comic, which is only in Portuguese, went on sale in July 2020 in Brazil.

A copy of the comic is kept in the library of the University of Sorocaba, and there are also apparently attempts to use it in journalism classes. A copy was donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and can be viewed in the first basement of the library. Profeta expressed hope for a Japanese-language version of the comic.

While the number of atomic bomb survivors living in Brazil peaked at around 270 at one point, there were only 72 hibakusha at the end of 2021. The Association of Atomic Bomb Victims in Brazil founded by Morita has become the organization certified by the government. the Brazilian A-Bomb Survivors Peace Association, but the association’s activities ceased in late 2020. Morita and other Brazil-based hibakusha currently continue to give talks and perform skits, among other efforts , in small groups.

The comic strip Projeto HIBAKUSHA, which was donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, is seen in the city’s Naka district on August 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Akihiro Nakajima)

At the end of March 2021, there were some 2,800 A-bomb survivors who lived outside Japan and had atomic bomb survivor certificates, according to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The number has dropped from the roughly 3,400 recorded in a survey in 2015.

(Japanese original by Akihiro Nakajima, Hiroshima Office)

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