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"In the Mushroom Cloud" Edit
JEHOVAH'S witnesses experience many hardships because of their bold stand for the truth of God's Word. The apostle Paul, speaking in proof of his ministry, said that often he was "in dangers from my own race, in dangers from the nations, ... in hunger and thirst, ... in cold and nakedness." (2 Corinthians 11:26, 27, New World Trans. Modern-day Jehovah's witnesses likewise face great danger at times. Interesting is the experience of a Japanese witness of Jehovah who has experienced the "time of the end" dangers of atom bombs and earthquakes. This witness was a fulltime time (pioneer) minister of Jehovah God at the time of his imprisonment in 1938, held his integrity through the war years, and together with his son has recently entered the full-time ministry again at Sendai, Japan. This is his story.
Just before World War II, about June, 1938, all of Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan were suddenly arrested by the police state. This occurred all over Japan at the same time. I was living the in Hiroshima city with two other ministers, and preaching in the Chugoku district. The police took me to the Hiroshima city police station, where they detained and investigated me for more than two years.
In those days Japan was a totalitarian state, so that those who kept integrity to Jehovah were never welcome. After three years they finally condemned me as guilty of violating the "Peace Preservation" law, a new regulation, and I was sentenced to five years' imprisonment.
Both my first and second trials were in camera, and my appeal to the higher court was rejected. Since the courtroom was the best opportunity I now had for giving a witness, I did my very best to testify concerning God's kingdom. This did not please the officials. The officer in charge of my case was angry with me, regarding me as unpatriotic. He persecuted me over many months, plucking my hair out by the roots, threatening me and trying to drive me out of my mind.
At that time my wife and six-year-old child were in my native country. The police, seeing that they could not make me give up my faith, sometimes used my wife and child or some other human affection to try to make me renounce my faith. I had to go through the severe cold of winter and the heat of summer, as well as, all the other hardships of jail life, on my own. The many sufferings that the apostle Paul had were good examples for me. Surely, persecutions can never take God's love away from us! The judge had told me that unless I gave up my faith I would be imprisoned for all the days of my life, even after the five-year term was ended. What I truly felt thankful and happy for then was that I was able to have the Bible and read it always in my cell. The Bible gave one strength and comfort always.
It was the morning of August 6, 1945, seven years after I was arrested. On this day the atom bomb exploded, making Hiroshima a city of death and ruins in one moment.
It dawned a very fine day. Early that morning the prisoner who was in the cell called to me to exchange books with him. As exchanging books was forbidden in the jail I was afraid of violating the regulation. However, since he had thrown the book down into my cell, I gave him my book and hurried to, eat my break-fast. In order to give him back the book soon, I was reading very hard as I ate.
It was then, I think, about nine o'clock. All of a sudden, a weird light flashed and sparkled on the ceiling of my cell. It was like lightning or magnesia light. Then I heard such a terribly loud roar as if all the mountains had collapsed at one time. Instantly the cell was shrouded with a thick darkness. I shoved my head under my nearby mattress, to escape what seemed to be a dark gas. After seven or eight minutes had passed I pushed my head out from under the mattress and found the "gas" was gone out of the cell, and it was light once again. Articles from the shelf and a large quantity of dust had fallen into the cell, making it very dirty.
Then I looked through the back window. I was thunderstruck! The jail workshops and the wooden buildings had all been crushed flat. I looked through the small front window. The cells of the opposite block had been all torn to pieces and only the lumber remained, piled in a heap. Many of the prisoners, those who were now out-side because their cells had been destroyed and those who were still inside, were crying for help. There was fear and panic. It was a scene of dire confusion and terror.
Since I knew I could not get out I cleaned up my cell and sat down to read the book again. I looked into my small washroom, and felt a chill go through my body. A pile of bricks had crashed into it from the wall. Due to reading my book I had not gone in there at the customary time, and this had probably saved my life.
It was some time before I learned that the whole city was a shambles and that a great many people were either killed or injured in that moment. Because of the high wall encircling the jail no fire had come in from the outside. However, it seemed there were many casualties in the jail too. I had been in the mushroom cloud of the atom bomb. But as I had quickly put my head under the mattress, my only discomfort was that I had found it difficult to breathe for a short time. I did not feel any heat from the blast. As the electric wires burned a little, prisoners were saying it was an electric bomb.
On the morning of the third day after the explosion, forty-five of us prisoners were tied together with ropes, and we were led in our prison garb two miles to the railway station for transfer to another city. It was then that I saw the terrible plight of the community. The whole city was a ruined field as far as the eye could see. The miserable remains of buildings showed here and there. Many of the dead had been dragged up out of the rivers and carried out of the buildings, even the stone buildings. The army was using trucks to deliver food. The people we met on the road looked as pale as death. They looked much more miserable than we prisoners. I saw many with their faces and backs horribly burned. Some were moving out the severely injured members of their families in handcarts. Everybody looked depressed and without hope.
Two months after the atom bomb I was finally released from jail.
The atom-bomb explosion of Hiroshima was the second disaster for me. My first disaster was when I experienced the Kanto daijishin (the big Tokyo earthquake) in 1923. Since the atom bomb was by men, I do hate the atrocity and feel it terrible. But frankly, I feel the disaster of the earth-quake was more terrible, for I did not know Jehovah God then, and hence I did not have the strength of faith.
World wars, earthquakes, privations, fearful sights such as caused by atom bombs, persecutions, of Christians-all these are part of the "sign" that Jesus foretold as marking the end of the present satanic world system. To men of faith in this day Jesus said, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages, and there will be fearful sights ... people will lay their lands upon you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, ... In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near."
And what did Jesus conclude in the matter? "Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and to hold your position before the Son of man." -Luke 21:10-12, 31, 36, New World Trans.