75-Year-Old Rally Against Nuclear Weapons Towards World Justice
Finally the day is coming. On January 22, the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (TPNW) will enter into force. This treaty, the first comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons, sets an important precedent in recognizing the humanitarian consequences of using nuclear weapons. The movement to center the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons has gained momentum in the last decade. However, the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombardment, hibakushaFor 75 years, it has witnessed this human perspective tirelessly to persuade the world to abolish nuclear weapons.
Disastrous Human Consequences under the Mushroom Cloud
As Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow said, “To ensure that no one suffers because we suffer,” this is a call from hibakusha to pursue a world without nuclear weapons. At the end of 1945, the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed more than 210,000 victims from the first explosion, burns, and radiation. Among the victims were not only Japanese citizens, but also citizens from the United States and countries of Europe, East Asia and Southeast Asia who were in two cities that day. Survivors suffer from both the physical effects of radiation and social discrimination. Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui stated in 2015 that nuclear weapons are “absolute evil and ultimate inhumanity.” However, advocates of nuclear deterrence neglect the human perspective. Hibakusha claims that his safety-centric perspective on nuclear weapons ignores the devastating human consequences of using nuclear weapons. To remind people that the critical problem of nuclear weapons is still with us, hibakusha raises its voices and shares its inhuman experiences under the mushroom cloud. In 2020, the average age of hibakusha is 83 years old, but they continue to tell the world about their lives after atomic bombs and work to create a world without nuclear weapons.
Welcome to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Hibakusha’s Testimony
People cannot imagine what they don’t know. Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki welcome visitors from all over the world to understand the real consequences of atomic bombs. Representatives from around 90 countries attend the annual peace ceremony held on the anniversary of the atomic bombs to comfort the souls of the victims and express their longing for peace. Both cities are calling on political leaders to visit, especially those from countries that own nuclear weapons and make nuclear policy decisions. Three US presidents visited Hiroshima: Richard Nixon before his presidency, Jimmy Carter after his presidency, and Barack Obama during his presidency. The Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also visit international organizations such as the UN to explain the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and call for their elimination.
Hibakusha’s testimony provides solid evidence of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons through detailed stories about the days passed during and after the atomic bombs. Hibakusha travels at home and abroad and invites visitors to hear their testimony. However, testifying is not an easy task for them. Most Hibakushas remain silent about their experiences because the days after the bombings are too painful to be put into words. They also fear that identifying themselves as hibakusha in society and in the media will create stigma and other negative consequences for them and their families. Because of these burdens, they only share some hibakusha stories later in their lives.
The history of the Second World War is sometimes used as an obstacle to prevent hibakusha’s testimony from being heard. Faced with the inhumanity of the US atomic bomb, some Americans point to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Even after 50 years, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum had to cancel a special exhibition on the consequences of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki due to strong public reaction from those who believed the use of atomic bombs was justified. To convey Hibakusha’s message and “make sure no one suffers,” hibakusha must digest the history of World War II one by one and deal with the challenge. While such reprimands have declined over time, a hibakusha of Nagasaki apologized for the attack on Pearl Harbor before he began his testimony in New York in 2015.
Worldwide Cooperation and Cooperation
For decades, Hibakusha has faced resistance to her vision of a nuclear-free world. The Cold War witnessed a nuclear arms race and escalation of tensions between nuclear superpowers. But hibakusha persisted resiliently, collaborating and collaborating with others who shared their goals, including those who paved the way, victims of nuclear tests, and supporters of creating a world free of nuclear weapons. He visited sites affected by nuclear development around the world, such as the uranium mines in Hibakusha, New Mexico, and the Soviet Union’s nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. They exchanged experiences with the people of the Marshall Islands, where the United States had 67 nuclear tests. They witnessed decisive civilian groups and marched with supporters to abolish nuclear weapons in the United States.
The Hibakusha community’s partnership with the International Campaign for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and pro-nuclear disarmament states has stepped up the movement to create a legal framework to ban nuclear weapons as illegitimate means of war. International humanitarian conferences in Norway (2013), Mexico (2014) and Austria (2014) supported understanding of the short and long-term effects of the nuclear explosion through testimony from hibakusha and nuclear test victims. Experts also drew attention to the risk of an accidental nuclear explosion and the vulnerability of nuclear command and control infrastructures. Momentum led to the success of TPNW.
It has been 75 years since the world witnessed the human consequences of using nuclear weapons, and hibakusha is humanity’s living memory of this disaster. It’s time to start the generational transition of the anti-nuclear weapons movement from Hibakusa to the youth in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, the children and grandchildren of the hibakushas, along with their elders, testify and join them on a long road towards the goal of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The enactment of the TPNW to achieve this goal is just the beginning, but as Setsuko Thurlow put it, it is “the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”
Featured image on this blog provided courtesy of Kyla Duhamel on flickr.
Posted in: Japan, Nuclear Weapons Tags: Japan, nuclear ban agreement, TPNW
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