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Japan’s atomic survivors, Hibakusha in Peru, on their global voyage of nuclear warning

Global Voyage for a Nuclear Free World – Radiation survivors tell their story in Lima, Peru Peru This Week By Roxana Garmendia, 27 May 14 Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors visit Lima as part of their worldwide tour campaign ‘world free of nuclear weapons.’Hiroshima and Nagasaki are two words one cannot easily forget. They represent the destruction and the immense human suffering and loss caused by the usage of nuclear weapons. On August 6, 1945, American airplanes dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, and three days later on Nagasaki. 69 years have passed since then but the effects of such acts are still present to this day. To tell us more on these tragic events, a delegation of survivors recently visited Lima as part of their worldwide tour campaign on a ‘world free of nuclear weapons.’

A group of both men and women – most of them in their 70s – shared their memories and the consequences these events had in their lives and those of their families. They were young – if not infants – and some did remember those moments quite well; others learnt about them growing up and through their families. One man recalled his hair falling off and having open wounds in his legs and body caused by the radiation and from which worms would stem out; a lady being covered with a blanket by her mother, saving her from getting the radiation burns – different was the fate of the other family members who died soon after, she explained. More than 200,000 people have died of radiation sickness; the vast majority of them civilians.

There were, of course, those who survived the nuclear attacks; in Japan they are known as hibakushas. A hibakusha technically is someone that has been exposed to radiation within a few kilometers of the hypocenter or was not yet born but was carried by a pregnant woman that had been exposed to such radiation. It is estimated that there are more than 220,000 hibakushas alive – Japanese for the most part but also Koreans and Chinese who were brought to Japan as forced labor during those years. One percent of them are believed to still suffer from some disease related to the bombings. The effects of the radiation, it must be said, are both short and long-term, and may appear later.

It was not only the physical scars, illnesses and traumas that the hibakusha have suffered all along; they were also victims of discrimination. Jobs were difficult to get as people were afraid of any disease transfer. Likewise in social terms, it was not any better as the belief that the illness could be hereditary was very much in the air, and doubts about this still persist. A Japanese lady revealed, for example that all her children suffer from cancer, thyroid, and intestinal problems, common illnesses among other second generation hibakushas (approx. 300 to 500,000).

Several years after, the hibakushas organized themselves and managed to obtain some benefits from the Government. The Japanese Government provides them a monthly allowance and free medical treatment for those registered hibakushas. No compensation, however, was ever paid by the Americans even though they were the ones who threw the bombs……http://www.peruthisweek.com/news-global-voyage-for-nuclear-free-world-radiation-survivors-tell-their-story-in-lima-peru-103071

May 27, 2014 - Posted by | civil liberties, Japan

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