Satsuo Nakata (1920-1994), a reporter with the Osaka bureau of the Domei News Agency, came to Hiroshima on August 10, 1945. Thirty-two photos taken by him, including some of the city in ruins, have been found. Of those, at least three were published in various newspapers before the arrival of the U.S. occupation forces, telling of the destruction brought about by the atomic bombing. Under what circumstances were the photos taken and how were they handled? This article traces Mr. Nakata’s footsteps and introduces these forgotten news photos.
The so-called “Aihara materials” inspired this article. Hidetsugu Aihara, 97, a resident of Saitama Prefecture, was a documentary filmmaker who came to Hiroshima in late September 1945 as a member of the Scientific Research Council Special Committee for the Investigation of A-bomb Damage, a government team put together by the former Education Ministry to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the damage done by the A-bomb. The Aihara materials consist of approximately 6,000 photographs and documents collected from that time. Late last year they were sent to the Peace Memorial Museum by the family of Mr. Aihara on his behalf.
The photos of the devastation of Hiroshima and others were found among memos saying, “Domei negatives returned,” “Taken by Nakata” and “I don’t know anything at all about a Mr. Nakata.” There are 32 photos taken by Mr. Nakata.