Exposure to the atomic bomb changed the survivor's status as a human being, in his own eyes as well as in others'. He became a member of a new group: he assumed the identity of the hibakusha. Nor is this identity of significance only for atomic bomb victims.
One of the methods I used to explore the nature of this identity was to encourage survivors to associate freely to the word hibakusha. In doing so, they inevitably conveyed to me the sense of having been compelled to take on a special category of existence by which they felt permanently bound, however they might wish to free themselves from it--as in the case of the shopkeeper's assistant:
Well . . . because I am a hibakusha . . . bow shall I say it--I wish others would not look at me with special eyes. . . . Perhaps hibakusha are mentally--or both physically and mentally--different from others. . . . But I myself do not want to be treated in any special way because I am a hibakusha. . . .
He went on to complain that be was frequently asked to appear on television and then interviewed in a way that brought out "the darker side of the problem," which, he felt, created "a burden for me," since