"I'll strive together with [President Barack Obama] toward realizing a nuclear-free world so as not to waste their deaths," said Shigeaki Mori, 79, a historian, as he prayed Saturday for the souls of U.S. prisoners of war who died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Saturday marked the 71st anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the city.
Mori, who hails from Nishi Ward of the city and is himself an atomic bomb survivor, or hibakusha, offered the prayer before the memorial nameplate he installed at his own expense for U.S. POWs who died in the atomic bombing.
The nameplate was installed at the site of the former Chugoku Headquarters for military police in what is now Naka Ward of the city.
Mori was exposed to radiation as a third grader at a national wartime primary school, at a point 2.5 kilometers away from ground zero. He was on his way to school.
In the 1970s, while working as a company employee, he became interested in the US soldiers held in Hiroshima after seeing them depicted in a painting of the disastrous aftermath of the atomic bombing, and began to do research on them.
Mori was invited to the ceremony for atomic bomb victims held in May at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where Obama spoke with him. "I was on cloud nine at the time, as I felt my efforts had paid off," he said.
The image of Mori, his eyes welling with tears, sharing an embrace with Obama was transmitted across the globe by media outlets. As a result of the exposure, Mori received new testimonies about the POWs.
A man residing in Singapore called Mori to tell him his grandfather worked as an interpreter at the police headquarters. The man quoted his grandfather as saying he was told by a U.S. prisoner of war, "If I die, please let my parents know." A man from Ishikawa prefecture provided additional information about the headquarters.
Mori published in June his own book incorporating the results of his research on U.S. POWs, but he felt he has not yet finished his lifework of tracing their final days and praying for their souls.
"By continuing research on US soldiers as long as I live," Mori said, "I would like to contribute to Japan-US friendship and peace."