Silent Witness

Silent Witness: A-bombed belt buckle was used for 70 years

by Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writer

The raised red letters that read “SANYO” have partly peeled off the belt buckle. The buckle was worn by Shiro Shinoda 87, a resident of Asaminami Ward, Hiroshima, when he experienced the atomic bombing. Mr. Shinoda was a third-year student at Sanyo Junior High School (now Sanyo High School) and mobilized to work for the war effort at the time of the bombing. The belt buckle bears the name of his school.

That morning, Mr. Shinoda was at a factory located in Minamimachi (part of today’s Minami Ward), two kilometers from the hypocenter. He saw a flash, then the wooden building where he worked collapsed on top of him. Because it was a hot day, and he was naked from the waist up, shattered pieces of glass pierced his neck and upper body, bloodying him. The belt buckle, handed down to him by his elder brother, who had graduated from the same school, was damaged on its surface and smeared with blood.

Mr. Shinoda continued to carefully keep the buckle, and use it, after he found work in the post-war period. He said, “This buckle is my only proof of the atomic bombing because it experienced the bombing with me. It’s like a part of my body.” But in the milestone 70th anniversary of the A-bomb attack, he donated the buckle to the Peace Memorial Museum because he was concerned that no one would preserve it after he died.

In all, 475 students from Sanyo Junior High School and two associated schools lost their lives in the atomic bombing. Mr. Shinoda said, “I hope that the horrific nature of the atomic bombing will be conveyed to people in the future, forever and ever.”

The A-bomb survivors who lived through the post-war era are now advancing in age. Amid such circumstances, more and more survivors are donating their A-bomb-related belongings to the museum. Along with the personal effects of the A-bomb victims, A-bombed objects held and used by the survivors are also important witnesses of that tragic day.

(Originally published on January 22, 2018)