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Malaysian A-Bomb Survivor Developed Deep Japanese Ties

Source: Japan Times
             October 22,1989, pg, 7
             By Eiko Ohki

Abdul Razak, a 66-year-old professor of Japanese at the MARA Institute of Technology in Kuala Lumpur, can't forget his first-hand experience of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima but he is able to forgive Japan for the atrocities it committed during the war. 

Abdul Razak was 18 and attending Hiroshima Bunri University, now called Hiroshima University, when the bomb was dropped on Aug. 6, 1945. 

One of a select group of Southeast Asian students, he was brought to Japan primarily to learn Japanese under the wartime goal of facilitating Japan's colonial rule of Asian countries. 

The Malays, who account for some 47 percent of his country's population, were reportedly treated less harshly than were the Chinese, the second-largest group in the country. 

Nevertheless, Abdul Razak, a Malay, said in an interview during a recent visit to Tokyo that some of his relatives and friends were massacred or subjected to brutal treatment by Japanese armed forces. 

"But I have no (intention) of blaming the Japanese (for their) aggression in my country," he said. "Atrocities are committed in any war, and the Japanese armed forces were no more cruel than other military forces." 

When he was selected to study in Japan under the Greater East Asia Coprosperity program, he thought it was nothing but "a big chance to be succcessful," he recalls. 

Abdul Razak said he still remembers the thrill of arriving in Japan in June 1944 as a member of the second group of 10 elite Southeast Asians to study Japanese. 

He had a faint idea that the program's true purpose was to educate local elites to promote the Japanese language and Japanese thinking back in their home countries. 

Little did Abdul Razak know that awaiting him in Japan was the world's first atomic bombing. 

One that day in August 1945, he had just started a mathematics class along with a fellow Malaysian student. The classroom was on the first floor of a university building in Higashi Senda, Hiroshima. 

The bomb detonated at 8:15 a.m. about 1.5km away from the class. 

"Suddenly everything I could see was yield with bright yellowish light," Abdul Razak recalled. "I shouted, `Look at the light.' Seconds later, the second floor of the two-story wooden building collapsed on us. 

"I did not know how long I was buried under the debris, but when I regained consciousness, I saw may classmate and the teacher crawling out from ruins," he said. "I was shocked to see that their white shirts were soaked with blood, but I soon realized that I sustained minor cuts on my head and was also bleeding." 

When Abdul Razak and his classmates walked back to the dormitory, which was situated only a few hundred meters from the blast center, he saw a whirlwind of fire engulfing the area. 

"Together with six other foreign students and four Japanese friends, we quickly dove into the river, packed with piles of severely burned bodies, and let the steam carry us away from the area," he recalled. 

Although two other Malaysian students died soon after their exposure to the blast, Abdul Razak survived and returned to his home in November 1945 upon the war's conclusion. 

Despite significant radiation exposure, Abdul Razak said he has been in good health

Some 356,000 people have been officially recognized by the Hiroshima Municipal Goverment as atomic-bomb survivors. Abdul Razak was recognized by the Japanese government as one of some 1,760 foreign nationals who survived the atomic bombing-almost all of them Koreans. 

But he is not eligible for government compensation because there is no system for compensating foreign survivors living overseas. 

Abdul Razak spent only seven months in Hiroshima but the experience has ironically deepens his ties with Japan. 

He pursued a career as a Japanese-language teacher in Malaysia after his return. 

"I have never been criticized by other Malaysians for teaching Japanese, which was once forcibly taught at schools." he said. 

But few people in Malaysia were interested in learning Japanese until 1982, when the government launched its Look East Program, under which the public is urged to learn from such countries as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea to help Malaysia's economic development, he said. 

A part of an effort to contribute to world peace, Abdul Razak, the only Malaysian survivor of the atomic bombing, published a 120-page book on his experiences in December 1987. The book sold so well among university students that he published a second edition last year. 

He is now planning to publish the book in Japanese, because "some Japanese seem to avoid talking about the atomic bombing, apparently because they think it was the major cause for the defeat of the Imperial Japanese forces." 

Abdul Razak contends that it was the war that caused the tragedy in Hiroshima and the massacres in Asia. 

Currently on a month long tour of Japan at the invitation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, he is scheduled to make his third trip to Hiroshima on Aug. 6. 

He said he is looking forward to attending a memorial service for 196,000 atomic bomb victims to be held at Peace Memorial Park at the exact time of the bombing. 

"Even today memories of the day come back to me vividly when I close my eyes, as if it happened yesterday," he said.

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