Yuki Tominaga, granddaughter of deceased A-bomb survivor, to convey grandmother’s message online to US university students

by Rina Yuasa, Staff Writer

Will pass on wishes for peace from Emiko Okada, survivor who died suddenly in April

On May 28, Yuki Tominaga, 23, the granddaughter of Emiko Okada, an A-bomb survivor who persisted in sharing her experiences in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima both in Japan and overseas, will speak online at a lecture event sponsored by DePaul University, located in the U.S. city of Chicago. Ms. Okada was originally scheduled to take the rostrum as the event’s keynote speaker but died suddenly at the age of 84 on April 10. Ms. Tominaga, a resident of Hiroshima City’s Higashi Ward, will speak in her grandmother’s place, taking a new step in conveying the wishes for peace inherited from her grandmother.

With colleagues, Yuki Miyamoto, associate professor at DePaul from Hiroshima City who knew Ms. Okada before her death, planned the online campus lecture presentation based on the theme “radiation exposure.” Ms. Tominaga is scheduled to take part in the lecture with Native Americans from New Mexico, where uranium mines and a nuclear weapons research facility are located, among other speakers. She plans to employ the words she often heard from her grandmother. “Share with people around you what you thought here, what you thought at the presentation today, and turn that into action.”

When Ms. Tominaga was in the sixth grade, she traveled to the United States with her grandmother in conjunction with the Preparatory Committee of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Ms. Tominaga also spoke at the United Nations Headquarters, at which she made the appeal, “Let’s have courage to do away with nuclear weapons.” Her grandmother, from her experiences of losing her older sister in the atomic bombing and suffering illness, worked relentlessly to plead the case for abolition of nuclear weapons, explaining that, “We can change our future.” Ms. Tominaga witnessed her grandmother’s efforts from up close.

When Ms. Miyamoto first sounded her out about speaking as a “third-generation A-bomb survivor” following Ms. Okada’s death, Ms. Tominaga agonized over the decision. “I can’t speak as effectively as my grandmother did,” she thought. However, advice from her grandmother while she was alive encouraged her. “Communicate your message by making the most of what you are good at.” Ms. Tominaga, a dancer, conveys the preciousness of peace through the art of dance. She gained confidence with the thought that, “I can speak to the students about my grandmother and my own life as someone of their generation.”

Last year, Ms. Tominaga appeared in a film titled Hibi-no Harmony (Harmony in Daily Life) with her grandmother. The video, produced by the singer-songwriter HIPPY, 40, a resident of Hiroshima’s Asaminami Ward, includes testimony of A-bombing experiences recalled by Ms. Okada. With cooperation from HIPPY, Ms. Tominaga is now engaged in the planning of a new film. In June, she will start performing as a dancer in Tokyo, expressing her ideas through dance. “The power of dance and music is the same worldwide. I hope my performances can become the gateway for people to consider peace.”

(Originally published on May 27, 2021)