Quotable

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel


Monday, August 12, 2013

International Declaration of 2013 World Conference against A and H Bombs

Editor's Note: This is a message from the World Conference against A & H Bombs Organizing Committee following the completion of the World Conference against A and H Bombs.

Declaration of the International Meeting

Sixty-eight years have passed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered the atomic bombings.  The bombs instantly devastated the two cities and took lives of over 200,000 citizens by the end of 1945.  They created a “hell on earth,” which denied humans either to live or die as humans.  The Hibakusha, who survived the days have continued to suffer from wounds in both mind and body.  The tragedy like this should never be repeated anywhere in the world.
            Nuclear weapons are the worst weapons of mass destruction, the use of which is a serious crime against humanity.  They have to be banned without any further delay.
            There are still nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world.  One nuclear bomb, if used, could cause disastrous tragedy.  Even a small portion of them would cause a large scale climate change, which could lead to famine around the world.  Total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons is an urgent task for the whole of humanity.
            Along with the survivors and on behalf of those who died and cannot speak for themselves, we, participants in the International Meeting of the 2013 World Conference against A and H Bombs appeal to all governments to take actions now to achieve a “world without nuclear weapons.”

The demand for a world without nuclear weapons represents an unshakable international development.  The General Assembly of the United Nations every year adopts resolutions calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons.  The 2010 NPT Review Conference resolved by consensus, with all nuclear weapon states included, to achieve a “world without nuclear weapons”, and affirmed that all States need to make “special efforts” to establish a “framework” to achieve it.
            However, primarily due to the intransigence of nuclear powers, no tangible progress has been made.  We call on the international community to overcome all stagnations and resistance.
            On the governmental level, a movement to seek to outlaw nuclear weapons by focusing on their atrocious, inhuman nature is rapidly gathering momentum.  Such is the approach which our movement has adopted and pursued with the Hibakusha since its outset.  The resolution calling for the start of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention, in line with the decision by the ICJ, which the peace movement of the world demands, now commands support of 135 governments, representing over 70% of all U.N. member States.
            By continuing these developments, a nuclear weapon-free world can be created.  The key lies in the hands of the peace movement and public support across the world.
            We call on all governments, and those of the nuclear weapon states in particular, to begin to implement the agreement for “achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” by starting negotiations on the Nuclear Weapons Convention as the framework of it.
            Towards 2015, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the A-bomb suffering of the two cities and in which the next NPT Review Conference will examine how the 2010 agreement has been implemented, let us develop our campaign in each of our countries and bring strong voices of the citizens of the world to New York, to generate a huge ground swell demanding the total abolition of nuclear weapons.

The policy of “nuclear deterrence”, aimed to threaten adversaries with nuclear weapons, contravenes the basic principle of the U.N. Charter, which stands for the solution of international conflicts by peaceful and diplomatic means as opposed to the use of force.  It also serves as incentive for nuclear proliferation.  A world without nuclear weapons is incompatible with the nuclear deterrence doctrine, which should be overcome immediately.
            We call for the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons to be solved peacefully on the basis of international agreements reached particularly by the Six-party talks.  An international conference to establish a WMD-free zone in the Middle East should be convened as agreed by the previous NPT Review Conferences. Steps forward toward a total ban on nuclear weapons would provide new favorable conditions for the solution of these specific problems.
            International conflicts can only be resolved by diplomatic and peaceful means.  Threat or use of force would create a vicious cycle of heightened tension and aggravated situation.  We note the frameworks of and efforts for peace, which are developing in the Southeast Asia, Latin America and other places.  Opposing arms build-up and reinforcement of military alliances, we make a strong call for no-use of force and peaceful settlement of conflicts. 
           
In achieving a nuclear weapon-free world, the A-bombed country Japan, which can denounce the cruelty of nuclear weapons through its own experiences, should play a significant role.  However, the government of Japan continues to abstain from voting for the U.N. resolutions calling for the start of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention or calling for prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons, and for other resolutions leading to the abolition of nuclear weapons, including one for nuclear disarmament tabled by the Non-Aligned movement.  Japan’s refusal to join the statement (supported by 80 countries) warning of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and calling for their elimination drew deep disappointment and criticism.
            The Japanese peace movement calls on the government to play the role befitting the A-bombed country and demands strict observance of the Three Non-Nuclear Principles and breaking away from the U.S. “nuclear umbrella.”  Noting its important role, we extend solidarity with the movement for a nuclear weapon-free and peaceful Japan.  We support the Hibakusha in their efforts to achieve relief measures based on State compensation and fundamental reform in the A-bomb disease recognition system.
            Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, upholding the renunciation of war and non-possession of war potentials, embodies a strong commitment of the Japanese people to reject war and recurrence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  We express our support to the people of Japan in their endeavors to defend and make the most of the Constitution, to reduce and remove U.S. military bases from Okinawa and elsewhere, and to resist the consolidation of Japan-U.S. military alliance.
            The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is still in the midst of the crisis.  Bringing the situation under control, decommissioning of all nuclear reactors and a fundamental shift to renewable energy resources are keenly called for.  Having noted the dangerous relations between nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation, we call for ending all kind of nuclear damage caused by nuclear fuel cycles, and oppose reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and accumulation of plutonium, as well as military use of nuclear energy.

We call on the peoples of the world to join in the following actions:

  • Towards 2015, let us urge the nuclear weapon states and all other governments to implement their agreement to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.  In every country, we must inform wider public of the atrocity and inhumanity of nuclear weapons and strengthen the public opinion in support of the abolition of nuclear weapons.  Organizing “A-bomb damage exhibitions” and Hibakusha testimonies, let us inform the public of the consequences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Let us promote international signature campaign in support of the “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons” and other activities to urge the start of negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.  Let us organize many varieties of actions which everyone at grassroots can take part in, such as peace marches, by making use of social media and other means.  And let us deepen cooperation with the U.N. and other international organizations, national governments and local authorities that stand for nuclear disarmament, including Mayors for Peace.
  • Strengthening relief and solidarity with the Hibakusha, let us extend our support and solidarity to all nuclear victims.  We will support the victims of Agent Orange, depleted uranium and all other remnants of war.
  • United in one wish for “no more nuclear victims,” we will develop our campaign together with the movement to break free of nuclear power.  We work together with broadest range of people demanding reduction of military spending, better life and employment, welfare, freedom and democracy, defending human rights, protecting global environment and overcoming gender-based discrimination and social injustice.  Let us create a far-reaching unity and solidarity for a “nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just world.”
Together with younger generation, once again, let us listen to the Hibakusha and turn our eyes to the “hell” created by nuclear weapons.  Moving the hearts of tens of millions of people, we shall build up powerful public pressure to open the door to a nuclear weapon-free world.

No more Hiroshimas!  No more Nagasakis!  No more Hibakusha!

August 5, 2013
International Meeting, 
2013 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hearing the Hibakusha on Hiroshima anniversary

Dear Friends,

Sixty-eight years ago today at appoximately 8:15am (Hiroshima time) the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima.  The blast and firestorm caused by detonation of the bomb over the city left upwards of 80,000 people dead and 70,000 injured. Of the injured, many died in the subsequent days, weeks, months and years due to radiation-related effects.  The survivors came to be known as Hibakusha (literally translated as "explosion-affected people").



This blog post holds a treasure. It holds the testimony of a fellow human being, Tokie MIZUNO, a Hibakusha of HIroshima.  Ms. MIZUNO put the words of the story of her personal experience in the bombing of Hiroshima to paper for the first time in 2010. Her act preserves (and shares) her story and makes a plea for us all to find our common humanity and work for peace.

Tokie MIZUNO giving her testimony in May 2010


We should be grateful to the Hibakusha for passing on their difficult and painful stories. They make us see (and feel) the horrors of nuclear war and hopefully mobilize our hearts to action. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate expression of violence, capable of extinguishing life as we know it. Nuclear weapons are incompatible with life!

Ms. MIZUNO represents all Hibakusha in saying, “No more Hiroshimas, No more Nagasakis!” All who read her testimony become witnesses to it, and as witnesses it is my deepest hope that we will all share her story far and wide, spreading her message, and the message of the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (GENSUIKYO). That would be the greatest thanks we could give Ms. MIZUNO.

Tokie MIZUNO placing flowers at the statue of Sadako in Seattle, WA


Peace,

Leonard

Testimony of Tokie MIZUNO,
 Hibakusha of Hiroshima


My name is Tokie MIZUNO and I am a survivor of Hiroshima. 65 years ago, when I was 5 years old, the atomic bomb was dropped on my city, Hiroshima. I was near my grandmother’s house, 1.2 kilo-meters from ground zero.

The City of Hiroshima was completely destroyed and was turned into rubble by the enormous destructive power of the atomic bomb. As other survivors, I was barely alive and the damage on my body and mind was unbearable.

I might have been lucky to survive but life hasn’t been easy on me financially, physically and mentally. This agony should not be repeated on anybody else on earth. That’s why I have become involved in anti-nuclear actions with other Hibakusha as well as many other Japanese people.

We have been collecting signatures for a nuclear-weapon-free world, and engaging in activities to defend the Japanese Constitution, especially the Preamble and Article 9, which pledges never to wage war again.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution clearly states “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat of use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

And it adds “In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Article 9 is our treasure.

This treasure for Japan was achieved with the sacrifice of precious lives of 20 to 30 million people in Asia and Pacific. This is one of the greatest achievements for the world, too, and we will hold on to it forever.

Let me talk about that day.......

On the morning of August 6th, 1945, just before Hiroshima was hit by the atomic bombing, one of the women in my neighbourhood came to my house and said “We have some sweets. Why don’t you come and have some?”

So my little 3-year-old brother and I happily followed her. In those days it was very difficult to have sweets. My neighbour’s son, a soldier, was back from the battlefront to treat his wounds. He brought some sweets with him for his family and the neighbour invited us in.

We were about to eat our sweets when the bomb exploded.

With a blinding flash, the whole house was flattened.

I found myself trapped under the rubble. I tried to look out from my little prison and saw my younger brother, rescued by a soldier, standing there with blood on his face and head.

I myself was pulled out of the rubble. My right arm was heavily injured and I had several cuts on my face. My neighbour tore her underwear into pieces and covered my arm to stop it bleeding. Later I was told that it was her treatment that saved my right arm.

I don’t remember how many hours had passed, but I saw my mother crawling to me over piles of rubble. She was desperately looking for me and my younger brother. She looked awful with only tattered patches of her clothing on her body and her hair standing on end.

My 12-month-old baby brother was still buried under the rubble. My mother and grandmother were desperate and were removing the debris saying they should get him back home, even if he was dead.

They also called out for help to people walking by but nobody stopped. They went on their way absentmindedly - they were like ghosts.

We saw flames in the distance coming towards us. Terrified, my younger brother and I were both crying. I don’t remember the pain of my injury, but many collapsed houses around us horrified me, although my father thought I was just stunned.

Fortunately, my baby brother was alive, and we managed to escape to a raft on the river. There were countless dead bodies floating and fire balls were falling all around. Red-hot galvanized plates darted towards us and made a huge noise when they dropped into the river. It was not a safe place to be.

At that time I was so young that I don’t remember exactly what happened. But my deceased parents and grandmother told me a lot about that day.

There was a woman on the raft who gave us food and water. She also gave my mother part of a Kimono to use as bandages and as a strap to carry me on her back.

In the evening, cooling our bodies with river water, we finally found a place to evacuate to. It was a shrine near a railway station called Koi.

Because my grandmother and I were seriously injured, we two were left at the shrine while my mother and brothers escaped to my aunt’s house in Itsukaichi City. My uncle who rushed to Hiroshima to search for us carried them on his handcart.

Grandmother thought we could have some treatment at the shrine but nothing was available. We were given only one rotten rice ball. We finally evacuated to my aunt’s house.

They were farmers and gave us good food. I had tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled shallots etc. to my heart’s content. It may be this diet that has kept me healthy.

My father had to spend several nights at shelters in Hiroshima. He died abruptly from TB in August 1956, which we believe was due to residual radiation. Later when I was working to collect survivors’ stories, I learned that there were many Hibakusha who suffered from TB during those difficult times.

My mother died in Oct. 1967. I believe that both of my parents were killed by the atomic bomb. At that time I thought that it was our fate and that because Japan was at war we couldn’t complain about it.

I also thought we were just unfortunate because we were in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped. Later I learned history, which completely changed my mind. I knew why the US had done it.

The US government has kept saying that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war and saved millions of people’s lives. That’s what they teach at schools.

However, in 1944 there was scarcely any food left for Japanese people. People were dying from hunger. Japan’s ground and air forces and navy were almost completely destroyed. It was obvious that Japan was finished.

Nonetheless, 210,000 people were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why?

In 1945 the war ended, but another war, the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union had already started. The US wanted to have an advantage over the Soviet Union militarily and politically by showing the power of nuclear weapons. They also wanted to test their newly developed technology, atomic bombs.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen as testing grounds with real live people.

Let me share with you what the atomic bombing had done to us. The atomic bomb caused massive destruction and killed tens of thousands instantly and indiscriminately. It also emitted massive amounts of radiation which has afflicted us for decades.

Hibakusha describe the moment of the bombing as “The Sun dropped on us and burnt us”. When Bomb exploded, a huge fireball, 280 meters in diameter, was generated in the air.

Heat rays emitted from it raised the ground temperature, from 3000 to 4000 degrees Celsius (5500 to 7300 degrees Fahrenheit) near the hypocenter.

This was a boy, the charred remains. 700 meters from the hypocenter (Aug. 10. Nagasaki).


This is the shadow of a man (Shadow burnt into the granite steps.

Within 1.2 kilo-meters of ground zero, those who were directly affected by the heat rays suffered terrible burns and their internal tissues and organs severely damaged. Most of them died instantly or within a few days.

The explosion also created a powerful blast and destroyed most of the wooden houses in 2-kilometer radius of ground zero. People were blown through the air and many crushed to death under collapsed buildings.

Radiation left the human body with serious damage. It penetrated deeply into our bodies, damaged cells and diminished the blood generation function of bone marrow.

It also damaged inner organs. Even those who looked uninjured later became ill and died.

Residual radiation left on the ground affected many long after the explosion. Those who entered the city to search for their families/friends or for relief operations eventually developed similar symptoms and died.

Nuclear weapons are unspeakable weapons. They don’t allow us to live nor die as humans. They are weapons of absolute evil which can never co-exist with human beings.

3.2 million Japanese people lost their lives in the Asia-Pacific War. 20 to 30 million people were victimized by the Japanese military in Asia.

Learning from it, we have acquired the war-renouncing Japanese Constitution. However, military spending in the world is growing. Trillions of dollars are being spent for military purposes. If used for peaceful purposes, this money could solve many problems for human-kind.

20th century war is gone. Our responsibility is to hand over a peaceful and cultivated 21st century to the next generation. I strongly believe that we can hand over a nuclear-weapon-free world to future generations if we work together in solidarity with the people of the U.S. and with the people of the world.

Thank you.