Koko Kondo 近藤紘子(こんどうこうこ)
Koko Kondo is a prominent Atomic Bomb survivor, and is the daughter of Kiyoshi Tanimoto, a Methodist minister famous for his work for the Hiroshima Maidens. Reverend Tanimoto went to the U.S. to promote peace and collect money for the wounded in Hiroshima after the bombing. He never stopped fighting for peace until his death in 1987. He appears in John Hersey’s seminal book, Hiroshima.
Kokowas eight months old when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6th,1945. She and her mother survived the blast when their home collapsed on top of them.
One of her first memories of the aftermath, she said, was that as a child she was comforted by a group of teenage girls."I could not see their faces. Their lips were seared to their chins. Their eyes would not close because of the burns," she said. The girls were among the Hiroshima Maidens, whose cause her father championed.
In 1955, she and her father appeared on the popular television program This Is Your Lifewhere they were placed in the uncomfortable position of meeting with Captain Robert A. Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
"I was in shock. I was thinking, 'What can I do?'" she said. "I had told myself that I would give him a big punch to revenge this."Instead, Koko said, she heard Lewis say on the television program that he looked back at the city as the plane pulled away and wrote in his log, "My God, what have we done?"
After the show, Koko went up to Lewis and touched his hand gingerly and he held her hand looking straight ahead. "The war ended for me then," she said."I had only known one side of sorrow," she said. "Now I knew that those on the airplane were suffering too." Koko said she learned Lewis was not evil, but that only war is evil.
Koko Kondo came back to the U.S. in 1963 and studied at Centenary College and then at American University in Washington, DC, where she received her degree in 1968. She has also received honorary doctorate degrees from both Webster University and Centenary College.
Koko has spent her adult life following in her father’s footsteps, working with various organizations to promote peace around the world.
She is an internationally recognized peace advocate, telling stories about Hiroshima and giving lectures at schools for students from elementary school to graduate school. Koko has long been involved with “Children as the Peacemakers,” which was started in 1982 in San Francisco by Patricia Montandon and she is still a counselor at the Hiroshima Peace Center.
Koko also accompanies the American University Nuclear Studies Institute’s annual study abroad trip to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Kyoto.
“She brings the survivor’s perspective, and a personal perspective, to the trip,” Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute and an AU history professor, said. “She brings the emotion of what it means to be a survivor.”