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Toda Shigemasa Interview, 21 November 2010, Part 2

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It was in the middle of the night. I don't remember the exact time. I was with my mother. We heard the warning siren. According to the protocol a warning siren was supposed to precede the actual air raid siren. But by this time the Americans had complete control of the skies. So there was no warning. The air raid siren itself started. I was so surprised that I had to hold up my pants with one hand. I didn't even have a chance to put on a belt. I led my mother by the hand and we tried to get away. Our entryway was already burning bright red. Incendiary bombs were falling everywhere. We ran out from the rear entrance and entered Meiji Street. I made the decision to take that large avenue in that particular direction. The incendiaries were cluster bombs that would split apart as they fell. But I really couldn't keep an eye on the sky above us. So I kind of feel responsible for what happened next... ... I think I chose the direction we were headed in because I remembered my mother's stories about the Great Tokyo Earthquake. Have you heard of it? It was an earthquake during the Taisho Era that my mother experienced. Our house was in Shin-mikawashima near the Keisei train line. But my father lived in Nippori. The Jobansen line runs through Nippori and there's an overpass there. At the time of the earthquake my parents took shelter there. So, even as a child, I think I had that in mind. I think I wanted to get to that same area. Unfortunately, a bomb fell right down onto the street we were walking down which happened to be a rare paved road. Paved roads were rare because there wasn't much asphalt or concrete. ... Anyway, Meiji Street was paved and a cluster incendiary came down... Those things were apparently made of oil and rubber It hit the concrete and bounced up. That's why my whole body was burned like this. And my mother...right in front of me... Women used to wear baggy trousers called "monpe." They were similar to kimonos, but could be tied up. My mother's trousers just then... ...You can see what the contents of the bomb did to me. But it completely covered my mother's body. In those days people used to carry their important belongings strapped to their waist. I saw the things my mother had strapped on catch on fire and fall to the ground. ...Of course, I was on fire too... Even so, I could tell that my mother was burning and I knew she'd dropped the valuables. A nearby Young Men's Association... Of course they weren't that young because all the young people were drafted into the army... This group of men patted and extinguished the flames on our bodies and carried my mother on a stretcher. I walked along side them, but fell over on the way. I don't remember anything else. I suppose I was unconscious for 3 or 4 days. I didn't know what was happening. During that time, a nurse asked me if I knew that my mother had died. She came back later to apologize and say that she'd made a mistake. I think they just wanted to keep the truth from me. But my mother was already dead. That's all described in this document. Regarding the treatment I received, I don't know how the doctors of Japan at the time compared to the international standard. But I could only stay in the hospital for three months. ...in the middle of the war... My face and other burns hadn't healed yet, but they ordered me to leave. You could only stay for three months. Nothing longer than that. Today there are 23 wards in Tokyo. In one of them, Arakawa, there was a kind person who did a lot to help me. A lot of other things happened before that though... I was put into an orphanage in Itabashi. Even in the orphanage, there generally wasn't enough to eat. Just no food at all ... Nothing at all compared to what we'd had before. ... I went with the other kids to dig for potatoes. I even ate cicadas. The thing about cicadas is that there's really only a small bit behind their wings that you can actually eat. Anyway, that's what it was like in those days. But someone in the orphanage invited me to leave with him. He said he knew some kind of work we could do. So I ran away from the orphanage. But after getting out I waited and waited for my friend... He never came. I imagine the police caught him. That's what I've always thought anyway. I never saw him again. So now... I really needed something to eat. I even had to beg. I think I also passed through the Ameyoko neighborhood. It was so crowded there. People everywhere... I saw a foreigner there for the first time.

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 24 seconds
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Genre: None
Views: 239
Posted by: japanairraids on Nov 25, 2010

Toda Shigemasa Interview, 21 November 2010, Part 2

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