Akihiko Ito
2001winners contribution to society
Travelled across Japan to record the recollections of 1,003 victims of the nuclear blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Akihiko Ito

Born: 1936; from: Tokyo, Japan

Award summary

He donated all the 951 volumes of the tapes he had painstakingly collected to the National Memorial Hall for the Commemoration of Atomic Bomb Victims, which is scheduled to open in Nagasaki City in 2003. For eight years from 1970, he walked all over the country carrying a 13-kilogram recorder that he bought with his retirement bonus received from the broadcasting station where he had worked for 10 years as a reporter. On the tapes, from those who accepted his request for an interview, he recorded the voices of 1,003 out of the remaining 2,000 survivors of the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Beginning in 1979, he has donated an edited version of this record to 944 facilities, including universities, high schools and libraries nationwide.

Reasons for this award

He resigned his job to record the recollections of around 1000 atomic bomb survivors in their own words, a task that took eight years, and which he supported by doing physical labor to make a living. The donation of all of this painstaking work to the national facility should be duly recognized as the culmination of his devotion to a personal quest. "I felt that it was my obligation to history as a journalist to record the experiences of atomic bomb survivors in their own words while they were still alive." He translated his beliefs into tangible action.

Comments from the winner

I greatly appreciate that my humble attempts to hand down the recollections of the atomic bomb survivors to posterity has been noticed. Being witness to the horror of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is grave and historic experience marking the 20th century, and one which Japanese people should never forget. I have been committed to my task, spurred on by a wish that the record of these events would be handed down to the future generations of the 21st century, and that my work would, even in a small measure, contribute to ensuring that nuclear weapons will never be used again.