Quotable

"We could, in a moment in time, destroy everything—ourselves and all that we had every touched or loved—by means of our own technology and by our own hand." -Robert Jay Lifton, psychiatrist and the author of “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” and a memoir, “Witness to an Extreme Century.”


Showing posts with label Atomic Bombings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Atomic Bombings. Show all posts

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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Were the Atomic Bombings Necessary?

As we prepare to commemorate the anniversaries or the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are many questions we might ponder.  One of the most fundamental questions is "Were the atomic bombings necessary?"  In the following essay David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, challenges the conventional understanding that the use of atomic bombs was responsible (and necessary) for ending the war. 

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Were the Atomic Bombings Necessary?

by David Krieger July 30, 2012

On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered and World War II was over. American policy makers have argued that the atomic bombs were the precipitating cause of the surrender. Historical studies of the Japanese decision, however, reveal that what the Japanese were most concerned with was the Soviet Union’s entry into the war. Japan surrendered with the understanding that the emperor system would be retained. The US agreed to do what Truman had been advised to do before the bombings: it signaled to the Japanese that they would be allowed to retain the emperor. This has left historians to speculate that the war could have ended without either the use of the two atomic weapons on Japanese cities or an Allied invasion of Japan.

The US Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that, even without the use of the atomic bombs, without the Soviet Union entering the war and without an Allied invasion of Japan, the war would have ended before December 31, 1945 and, in all likelihood, before November 1, 1945. Prior to the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US was destroying Japanese cities at will with conventional bombs. The Japanese were offering virtually no resistance. The US dropped atomic bombs on a nation that had been largely defeated and was trying to surrender at the time of the bombings.

David Krieger
Despite strong evidence that the atomic bombings were not responsible for ending the war with Japan, most Americans, particularly those who lived through World War II, believe that they were. Many World War II era servicemen who were in the Pacific or anticipated being shipped there believed that the bombs saved them from fighting hard battles on the shores of Japan, as had been fought on the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. What they did not take into account was that the Japanese were trying to surrender, that the US had broken the Japanese codes and knew they were trying to surrender, and that, had the US accepted their offer, the war could have ended without the use of the atomic bombs.

Most high ranking Allied military leaders were appalled by the use of the atomic bombs. General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces Europe, recognized that Japan was ready to surrender and said, “It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” General Hap Arnold, commander of the US Army Air Corps pointed out, “Atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.”

Admiral William Leahy, Truman’s chief of staff, put it this way: “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. In being the first to use it, we adopted an ethical standard common to barbarians of the Dark Ages. Wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

What Truman had described as “the greatest thing in history” was actually, according to his own military leaders, an act of unparalleled cowardice, the mass annihilation of men, women and children. The use of the atomic bombs was the culmination of an air war fought against civilians in Germany and Japan, an air war that showed increasing contempt for the lives of civilians and for the laws of war.

The end of the war was a great relief to those who had fought for so long. There were nuclear scientists, though, who now regretted what they had created and how their creations had been used. One of these was Leo Szilard, the Hungarian émigré physicist who had warned Einstein of the possibility of the Germans creating an atomic weapon first and of the need for the US to begin a bomb project. Szilard had convinced Einstein to send a letter of warning to Roosevelt, which led at first to a small project to explore the potential of uranium to sustain a chain reaction and then to the Manhattan Project that resulted in the creation of the first atomic weapons.

Szilard did his utmost to prevent the bomb from being used against Japanese civilians. He wanted to meet with President Franklin Roosevelt, but Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. He next tried to meet with the new president, Harry Truman, but Truman sent him to Spartanburg, South Carolina to talk with his mentor in the Senate, Jimmy Byrnes, who was dismissive of Szilard. Szilard then tried to organize the scientists in the Manhattan Project to appeal for a demonstration of the bomb rather than immediately using it on a Japanese city. The appeal was stalled by General Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project, and did not reach President Truman until after the atomic bombs were used.

The use of the bomb caused many other scientists to despair as well. Albert Einstein deeply regretted that he had written to President Roosevelt. He did not work on the Manhattan Project, but he had used his influence to encourage the start of the American bomb project. Einstein, like Szilard, believed that the purpose of the U.S. bomb project was to deter the use of a German bomb. He was shocked that, once created, the bomb was used offensively against the Japanese. Einstein would spend the remaining ten years of his life speaking out against the bomb and seeking its elimination. He famously said, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.  This essay was originally published at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation website (http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/db_article.php?article_id=381)