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The first atomic bomb actually used in war time was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945 killing between 130,000 and 150,000 people by the end of that year. Those who survived the bombing are rapidly aging now after struggling for many years. The Hiroshima Peace and Culture Foundation has decided to newly videotape the testimonies of 100 A-bomb victims to commemorate the International Year of Peace 1986 to record the precious experiences of these survivors to be handed down to the future generations.
"Nothing will grow for 75 years." Fifty-nine years have passed since the August sixth when Hiroshima was so thoroughly obliterated that many succumbed to such doom. Dozens of corpses still bearing the agony of that day, souls torn abruptly from their loved ones and their hopes for the future, have recently re-surfaced on Ninoshima Island, warning us to beware the utter inhumanity of the atomic bombing and the gruesome horror of war.
Unfortunately, the human race still lacks both a lexicon capable of fully expressing that disaster and sufficient imagination to fill the gap. Thus, most of us float idly in the current of the day, clouding with self-indulgence the lens of reason through which we should be studying the future, blithely turning our backs on the courageous few.
As a result, the egocentric worldview of the U.S. government is reaching extremes. Ignoring the United Nations and its foundation of international law, the U.S. has resumed research to make nuclear weapons smaller and more "usable." Elsewhere, the chains of violence and retaliation know no end: reliance on violence-amplifying terror and North Korea, among others, buying into the worthless policy of "nuclear insurance" are salient symbols of our times.
We must perceive and tackle this human crisis within the context of human history. In the year leading up to the 60th anniversary, which begins a new cycle of rhythms in the interwoven fabric that binds humankind and nature, we must return to our point of departure, the unprecedented A-bomb experience. In the coming year, we must sow the seeds of new hope and cultivate a strong future-oriented movement.
To that end, the city of Hiroshima, along with the Mayors for Peace and our 611 member cities in 109 countries and regions, hereby declares the period beginning today and lasting until August 9, 2005, to be a Year of Remembrance and Action for a Nuclear-Free World. Our goal is to bring forth a beautiful "flower" for the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings, namely, the total elimination of all nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth by the year 2020. Only then will we have truly resurrected hope for life on this "nothing will grow" planet.
The seeds we sow today will sprout in May 2005. At the Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to be held in New York, the Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons will bring together cities, citizens, and NGOs from around the world to work with like-minded nations toward adoption of an action program that incorporates, as an interim goal, the signing in 2010 of a Nuclear Weapons Convention to serve as the framework for eliminating nuclear weapons by 2020.
Around the world, this Emergency Campaign is generating waves of support. This past February, the European Parliament passed by overwhelming majority a resolution specifically supporting the Mayors for Peace campaign. At its general assembly in June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, representing 1183 U.S. cities, passed by acclamation an even stronger resolution.
We anticipate that Americans, a people of conscience, will follow the lead of their mayors and form the mainstream of support for the Emergency Campaign as an expression of their love for humanity and desire to discharge their duty as the lone superpower to eliminate nuclear weapons.
We are striving to communicate the message of the hibakusha around the world and promote the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Study Course to ensure, especially, that future generations will understand the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and the cruelty of war. In addition, during the coming year, we will implement a project that will mobilize adults to read eyewitness accounts of the atomic bombings to children everywhere.
The Japanese government, as our representative, should defend the Peace Constitution, of which all Japanese should be proud, and work diligently to rectify the trend toward open acceptance of war and nuclear weapons increasingly prevalent at home and abroad. We demand that our government act on its obligation as the only A-bombed nation and become the world leader for nuclear weapons abolition, generating an anti-nuclear tsunami by fully and enthusiastically supporting the Emergency Campaign led by the Mayors for Peace. We further demand more generous relief measures to meet the needs of our aging hibakusha, including those living overseas and those exposed in black rain areas.
Rekindling the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we pledge to do everything in our power during the coming year to ensure that the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings will see a budding of hope for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. We humbly offer this pledge for the peaceful repose of all atomic bomb victims.
August 6, 2004
Tadatoshi Akiba Mayor The City of Hiroshima
His Excellency George W. Bush, The President, The White House, The United States of America
Letter of Protest
I have received a report that your administration has submitted to Congress a 2004 Defense Authorization Bill that requests funds for the development of small nuclear weapons with a yield of five kilotons or less, which development has been prohibited since 1993, and that would repeal the Furse-Spratt prohibition on the development of such weapons.
This clear indication that the United States intends to develop small nuclear weapons raises the horrifying spectre that nuclear weapons will actually be used. As mayor of the A-bombed city Hiroshima I am outraged by the barbarism that has led you not only to attack Iraq, killing or injuring thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens, but also to develop new nuclear weapons. You are trampling viciously on the hopes of the vast majority of people around the world who seek peace and, on behalf of the residents of Hiroshima, I vehemently protest.
Coming as it does on the eve of the UN NPT Review Conference Preparatory Committee, this announcement, together with statements regarding the necessity of resuming underground testing and rapidly developing new tactical nuclear weapons, represents an extremely regrettable frontal attack on the process of nuclear disarmament.
I demand that you immediately begin demonstrating a willingness to implement the "unequivocal undertaking" to eliminate your nuclear arsenal promised at the previous NPT Review Conference, take a clear decision to terminate all nuclear testing, and devote the full strength of your great country to achieving a genuinely peaceful 21st century free from nuclear weapons.
April 21, 2003
Tadatoshi Akiba Mayor of Hiroshima
- Testimony of Hiroshi Sawachika
- Testimony of Yosaku Mikami
- Testimony of Isao Kita
- Testimony of Akira Onogi
- Testimony of Hiroko Fukada
- Testimony of Akihiro Takahashi
- Testimony of Kinue Tomoyasu
- Testimony of Yoshitaka Kawamoto
- Testimony of Toshiko Saeki
- Testimony of Akiko Takakura
- Testimony of Mamoru Yukihiro
- Testimony of Taeko Teramae
- Testimony of Takehiko Sakai
- Testimony of Hatchobori Streetcar Survivors
- Testimony of Yoshito Matsushige
- Peace Declaration
Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day
Monday, 1 March 2004
On Monday it is the 50th anniversary of the day the US 'Bravo' nuclear bomb was detonated close to the surface of Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. The explosion created a fireball four miles wide that vaporized the entire 'test' island and parts of two others, leaving a hole in Bikini’s lagoon one mile wide and 200 feet deep. The fireball contained huge quantities of radioactive coral and water particles, which were sucked up with the force of the blast and distributed far and wide across the Pacific - the nuclear fallout covered an area of 7,000 square miles.
The island of Rongelap (100 miles away) was dusted with powdery radioactive particles to a depth of one and a half inches, and Utrik (300 miles away) was swathed in radioactive mist. The people of Rongelap and Utrik lived on their newly radioactive islands for three days, inhaling, touching and ingesting the fallout particles, until the US navy belatedly sent ships to evacuate them.
Just four months later the Utrik people were returned to their island, and in 1957 the Rongelap people were returned to theirs, after the US government claimed it had 'cleaned up' the radioactivity - subsequently proved to continue to persist at a high level.
Fifty years after 'Bravo', people whose parents and grandparents were directly exposed to the initial radioactive contamination continue to have radiation-linked health problems and genetic damage; and those who were not themselves directly exposed, but have lived on the contaminated islands, experience similar harm.
Classified US government documents released in 1994 indicate this radioactive contamination of the people and their environment was deliberate. For more information about 'Bravo' and Project 4.1, the project to study humans exposed to nuclear radiation, see this speech by Rongelap Mayor James Matayoshi .
This is but one example of the horrific racist experiments that colonising governments have inflicted on the peoples of the Pacific, used as human guinea pigs in the insane and pointless pursuit of nuclear weapons supremacy.
Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day is a day to remember that the arrogant colonialist mindset which allowed, indeed encouraged, the devastation mentioned above continues today - the Pacific is still neither nuclear free nor independent.
Pacific peoples have been, and continue to be, displaced from their homes and lands to make way for nuclear bomb explosions, missile testing ranges, military training, bombing ranges, strip mining, clear felling, factories, roads, hydro schemes, marinas, settlers and sheep ... dispossession, displacement, desecration of land and spirit, despair.
The cycle of destruction is clear - yet there is little willingness on the part of the settler peoples nor of the governments within (and outside) the Pacific to acknowledge it, let alone to work for positive solutions. Even were that willingness to be found, it is no longer clear that Pacific governments are in a position to exercise their, or acknowledge indigenous peoples, sovereignty because of the stranglehold of the TNCs and international financial institutions.
Monday is the day to acknowledge and remember those who have suffered and died in the struggle for independence around the Pacific; those who have opposed colonialism in its many forms and paid for their opposition with their health and life; and those who have suffered and died as a result of the nuclear weapons states' use of the Pacific for nuclear experimentation, uranium mining, nuclear weapons testing and nuclear waste dumping.
Monday is the day to celebrate the strength and endurance of Pacific peoples who have maintained and taken back control of their lives, languages and lands to ensure the ways of living and being handed down from their ancestors are passed on to future generations.
Monday is the day to pledge your support to continue the struggle for a nuclear free and independent Pacific - not just on Monday, but on every day of the year. As the theme of the 1999 Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific conference said:
No Te Parau Tia, No Te Parau Mau, No Te Tiamaraa - E Tu ... E Tu ...
For justice, for truth and for independence - wake up, stand up!”
Kia manawanui, kia u, kia kaha to all who are working for a nuclear free and independent Pacific.
If you are interested in more information about the Marshall Islands, see the Marshall Islands index. For an update on the impact of the 'Bravo' and other nuclear bomb detonations, see Marshall Islands Women's Health Issues . In addition to the horror of nuclear weapons 'testing', the US government continues to use Kwajalein (Marshall Islands) for ballistic missile 'testing', for more information see Weapons in space: the impact on the Pacific . If you are interested in finding out more about the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement, see the 9th Triennial Conference Communique . Other index pages on this site relating to the Pacific can be reached via the Indigenous rights (Pacific) index page.
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