Students Reunited After Half Century
Source: Daily Yomiuri
By Kahori Sakane
"Peace has made it possible for us to meet again after 50 years," said Hasan Rahaya, 71, a survivor and former member of Indonesia's House of People's Representatives, hugging his old Malaysian friend, Abdul Razak, 71.
Rahaya and eight other people from five Asian countries, including five survivors of the Hiroshima bombing, have gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy. It was the first time for the nine of 25 foreign students of Hiroshima Bunri Daigaku (now Hiroshima University) to gather together.
During the war, more than 200 Southeast Asian students were invited by the Japanese govenment in the framework of the "Nanpo Tokubetsu Ryugakusei" scholarship program, which was launched to develop human resources for the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.
Toshio Hanaoka of Hiroshima, a former student of the university and a close friend of the foreign students, planned the reunion.
After arriving Friday, the group members visited the site of their dormitory and the graves of fellow foreign students who were killed in the bombing.
Five of the nine students, including Rahaya, were there on the morning of August 6.
"With one big blast, I felt I was lifted up and dropped," Rahaya sadi, recalling the moment. The bomb fell when he and another foreign student were attending a physics class.
After the blast, the classroom suddenlt became dark and the walls collapsed. A piano stood between Rahaya and a shattered wall and the students fled. What they saw outside was beyond description.
"People's clothes were torn and they were crying and crying," Rahaya said. "I had no idea what had happen."
All the buildings had collapsed and the roads were gone, but finally he made it back to the Konanryo foreign students' dormitory. Rahaya helped Haji Abdul Razak, another Indonesian student, out of a heap of rubble.
Within a few hours, fires broke out in several areas. Rahaya and about 15 other students sought refuge in a river that flowed in front of the dormitory, where they stayed for a few hours.
For two weeks, he and other foreign students camped out on the campus. "I later read a newspaper report that said grass would not grow in Hiroshima for at least 75 years. I was afraid to get married and have children," Rahaya said. Shortly after the war ended, the Japanese government told the foreign students to return to their countries. Two foreign students, including a Malaysian prince, had died in the bombing, but most returned home.
However, Rahaya wanted to continue studying in Japan and went to Tokyo, where he worked at GHQ for three years. He saved up money and then entered Keio University in 1948 where he studied law.
After graduating from university, Rahaya established a shipping company to export textiles to Japan and saved money to enter politics. He finally became a member of the House of People's Representatives in 1972 and served four terms.
"Without my Japanese education, I could not have accomplished what I did," Rahaya said. Although Japan had invaded Indonesia and occupied it for three years, he said it was better than when the country was occupied by the Netherlands.
Rahaya said he had learned the spirit of endurance and self-discipline while working in the personnel section of a Japanese military unit in Jakarta before coming to Japan.