My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HIROSHIMA, Japan—We spent Monday night in a charming Japanese hotel, the first time we had been for the night outside of a European environment, and we all enjoyed it. We had a wonderful view of the Inland Sea, with surrounding high mountains of Miyajima and other islands in the distance and the lower wooded hills coming down to the edge.

There are some 50 islands on the Inland Sea and Hiroshima province which has charge of them, employs more teachers than any other province in Japan because they have to have so many on these islands, sometimes for quite small classes.

On Miyajima there is a water gate leading to a shrine, which stands in the water, and early Tuesday morning we were taken by boat to see this entrance. The camphor wood in the gate has to be changed every 70 years they tell me. Miyajima is a most beautiful island and there are many small Japanese inns on it. It was used a few years ago for a UNESCO conference and last year for a conference of high school students.

We came back to Hiroshima at eleven o'clock by boat and went at once to a meeting of representative women who asked me many questions about what the American women did, how they carried on their household duties and still took part in government, which was most important in the U.S.? Did we as women really think that something could be done to bring about peace in the world and what were we doing about it and so forth and so on?

We are forced to evaluate the work of American organizations and try to give truthful answers, and tell how successful they are in attaining their ends.

From the women's meeting we went to the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission which is an American research group commissioned to watch the effects on sufferers from injuries caused by the atomic bomb.

Since fires started immediately after the dropping of the bomb, there are many casualties which are caused by fire and are not actually considered atomic injuries but, nevertheless, the people feel they have caused as much suffering and the fire was a direct consequence of the bomb.

After my meeting with women, some girls who had been injured by the fire after the bomb were waiting to see me. They said they did not wish to blame anyone but they did wish to make me realize how necessary it was to prevent it occurring again to blight young people's lives. It was a tragic moment and made me all the more anxious to find out from Dr. Taylor of the Casualty Commission what was actually being done for future information and for helping the Japanese people at the present time. I had already been told that some of the people who were cooperating for examination by the American doctors, have come to have a vague feeling, somehow or other, that they were being used partly for experimentation and not enough was being done for actual recovery. But our research group is limited by its mandate and also by the fact that they must not undermine the work being done by Japanese doctors. I came away convinced that through our doctors' efforts much was being done to cooperate with the Japanese doctors and thereby help the people generally.

We were a half hour late for the welcome lunch by the Mayor and the Governor but they kindly accepted our apologies and I think we left them with good feeling all around.

This feeling could be helped, I think, if we in America could have a deeper understanding and do a little more for the welfare of the people in distress. They are not our direct responsibility but the economic condition of Japan is critical and the burden great, so as a gesture of goodwill for the victims of this last war, such help would be invaluable.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hiroshima (Japan) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 17, 1953

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.