Our speaker this week was a special guest. He is a hibakusha, the Japanese word for a survivor of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped seventy-five years ago,
Now 82 and living in Palos Verdes Estates, Howard Kakita, born in east Los Angeles, gave a highly moving story of the aftermath of that terrible day to a rapt audience of Rotarians.  His story was distinctly both a Japanese and American tale, one filled with tragedy, betrayal, heroism and eventual forgiveness.
The date was August 6, 1945. Howard described it as a “beautiful day, B-29s flew overhead from the southeast toward the city.”

Until about 8:15 a.m.  He was about 440 feet, approximately 0.8 mile, from the epicenter. He remembers standing on the roof “and my grandma shouted to us to get off the roof as an air raid siren sounded. ” When all of a sudden there was “a huge flash and a tremendous boom . . . I did not see it” and seven-year-old Howard was knocked out.

When he awoke sometime later an estimated 70,000 people had evaporated. “My brother came to me, and together with grandma we fled the city.”
When he returned home to Hiroshima “it was mostly flat. There were numerous bodies in the vicinity. The smell of cremation still bothers me to this day," he said.

Hiroshima had not been fire-bombed by the allies so it was a few weeks before he realized an atomic bomb had fallen on their city. “I was still in a survival mode with the Nagasaki bomb dropped.”
In 1948 he reluctantly returned to the country of his birth, the United States. When he came “I had no memories of my parents,” he said.
Many years later he graduated  from UCLA in engineering and went on to a career as a software engineer.
He exhibited no bitterness toward the U.S. during his talk. Though in conclusion he observed, :”The U.S. took great effort to hide the effect of the atomic bomb. We should learn from it, we should understand”
Howard Kakita later added, "The article (about me) was published electronically on August 5, 2020, and it was picked up by a number of other publications, including The New York Times.  Two days later, printed copies were available. See The Washington Post Article on August 5.
"We have an annual commemorative service at a Buddhist Temple at or around August 6th.  Because of the pandemic, the ASA group decided to do this as a webinar this year and we invited the mayor of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to participate.  We also had videos of some other hibakushas (i.e., survivors of the atomic bomb) presenting brief testimonials.  I presented a 5 minute version of my story with some concluding remarks. Click 75th Annual Commemoration Service.
"The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) videotaped an interview with me last November, to be viewed by the museum visitors.  I edited this video by incorporating some graphics and photos which are presented in this video.   It is similar to the presentation that I made at your meeting sans the Q&A session which I believe was very valuable.