Emiko Okada dies at 84—Shared A-bombing experiences with young people, world

Emiko Okada, an A-bomb survivor who continued her call for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the A-bombed city of Hiroshima, died of an aortic dissection at a hospital in Minami Ward, Hiroshima, at 3:52 p.m. on April 10. Ms. Okada, 84, was originally from Hiroshima’s Higashi Ward. Her home address has not been disclosed. Attendance at Ms. Okada’s funeral will be limited to family, with her husband Takashi Okada designated as chief mourner.

Ms. Okada experienced the atomic bombing at her home, 2.8 kilometers from the hypocenter, when she was eight years old. Her sister, four years older than Ms. Okada and a first-year student at Hiroshima Prefectural First Girls’ High School (now Minami High School), was helping tear down buildings to create fire lanes as a mobilized student when the atomic bomb exploded. She was missing in the bombing, and her remains were never recovered.

In 1987, Ms. Okada became involved in the peace movement when she began working with the World Friendship Center, an organization based in Hiroshima’s Nishi Ward that works to promote world peace, and took advantage of travel to the United States to communicate her experiences in the atomic bombing. In 1999, she began working as a Hiroshima Peace Volunteer at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, sharing her A-bombing experiences with students visiting on school trips.

In 2005, she visited India and Pakistan as a member of the Hiroshima World Peace Mission, an effort through which A-bomb survivors and young people visit other countries, including nuclear weapons states, to talk about the suffering caused by the atomic bombings and to communicate messages of peace and reconciliation. She had the opportunity to explain the reality of the atomic bombings at A-bomb exhibits held throughout the United States and at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Ms. Okada also dedicated herself to the Hibakusha Appeal, a campaign for the collection of signatures calling on all countries to participate in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

(Originally published on April 11, 2021)