Gold 2015 / Editorial / Political (Non-Pro)

Black Rain Hibakusha

  • Prizes
    Gold in Editorial/Political
  • Photographer
    Thomas Damm

Black Rain Hibakusha story of unrecognized victims of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima Within the blink of an eye the fate of hundred thousands of Japanese people connected, when on the morning of the  6th of august 1945 the United States Air Force dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima city. At 8.15 o’clock the city at the Seto Sea was wiped out. The citizens became hibakusha – nuclear bomb victims. A moment that is burned into the memory of the survivors. Even 68 years later the pain is displayed in their faces, when they speak of it. There is the story of a metropolis that was transformed into a sea of fire and burning bodies through only one bomb. But there is also a certain group which has a special history of suffering. While most direct victims had free access to health care, only a small group of victims of the black rain was recognized. The group of black rain hibakusha is disputing about the border of the fallout zone with the government ever since. Through contaminated water they consumed so called internal radiation. What is generally seen as the symbol of life had turned into a bad omen for their personal lives. What is even more of a burden is the neglected recognition through society of their symptoms as a result of the nuke. For Japanese people it is hard to admit, they have suffered from radiation through the bomb, since they admit to carry a flaw. Since one of the most commonly experienced symptoms is a general exhaustion and low spirits are often depicted as laziness.  For this project I teamed up with students of Hiroshima City University to do interviews with 13 Hibakusha, while I was taking portraits. Most of them mentioned that they are worried about the situation in and around Fukushima. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki it’s the third Japanese city of hibakusha. Only through this connection there is a slow change in the reception of nuclear power, where the peaceful use of nuclear power was welcomed as a motor to economy.