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International day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons -September 26

Nagasaki one day after the atomic bombing seen in newly-discovered pictures.[HERALD INTERVIEW] Nagasaki atom bomb survivor urges denuclearization of world  Korea Herald, 24 Sept 16 TOKYO — More than 70 years later, Terumi Tanaka can still relive the havoc wrought on his hometown Nagasaki, which was flattened by a plutonium bomb unleashed from a United States Army Air Forces plane.

At around 11 a.m. on Aug. 9, 1945, Tanaka was at his home some 3.2 kilometers away from the hypocenter of the atomic blast, when he heard a “loud bang” and immediately fell unconscious.

“Everything was instantly blown away in a storm,” the 84-year-old Japanese man told The Korea Herald in Tokyo last week. “I survived because I was lying down on the floor. However, five out of my six relatives died, some instantaneously from the raging inferno, some slowly from putrefying burns.”

Ahead of the international day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons on Sept. 26, designated by the United Nations in 2014, the secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers’ Organization, also known as Nihon Hidankyo, warned of the indelible consequences of pursuing nuclear arms and energy.

There are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, with the US and Russia possessing 93 percent of them, according to anti-nuclear organization the Ploughshares Fund. The arsenals are a thousand times more destructive than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The bombshell dropped on Nagasaki, dubbed “Fat Man,” killed 74,000 people, roughly half the number that had perished from Hiroshima three days earlier. There are currently over 174,000 survivors — called “hibakusha” in Japanese — of the apocalyptic events in Japan and several thousands more worldwide.

Along with civic organizations such as Japan NGO Network for Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Peace Boat, Nihon Hidankyo has shepherded anti-nuclear calls around the world since it was established in 1956. It has participated in international conferences, street rallies and speaking tours, urging the total abolition of nuclear weapons, state compensation for their injuries, enhancement of government policies and relief measures, and solidarity with nuclear victims around the globe.

“Japan practically became a colony of the US since the war ended,” Tanaka said. “The US government forbade discussion or research of the bombing for seven years after 1945, and the Japanese government followed suit for an additional three years, thereby doing nothing for 10 years.”

As part of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, Tokyo renounced its right to claim damages from the nuclear bombardments from Washington. The hibakushas were deprived of their health, disadvantaged in employment and discriminated against by society, according to Nihon Hidankyo.

However, the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the subject of national discourse following the radiation exposure and death of Japanese fishermen who were affected by America’s nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific Ocean.

“Life was very tough before 1956, when our government started legislating laws and providing health care to the victims,” Tanaka recalled. “Before that, the sick and dying had to pay for medical expenses out of their own pockets, and many poor people died from malnutrition.”

Tanaka, who lived with a mother and three siblings, had to scrape by working odd jobs and saving pennies for the family as well as schooling. He called it an “unspeakable hardship.”

“We couldn’t eat for days on end. Everyone was poor, and even with little money there was practically nothing we could buy,” he said. “In spite of all our misery, we hoped that things would get better. We survived by shoving whatever was edible into our mouths.”

In the tragedy’s aftermath, Tanaka noted he did not experience particular health problems, but one of his sisters died from cancer 10 years ago, and several of his acquaintances contracted leukemia and other malignancies. Particularly, many children around age 10 and younger developed cancerous tumors, he pointed out, surmising the bombing was to blame.

While Hiroshima has since become a universal symbol of mass destruction, Nagasaki on Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu has largely been relegated to the larger city’s shadow. Nagasaki was bombed after Hiroshima, though it was less devastating due to the mountains and valleys of the city.

According to analysts, some 50,000 Koreans are thought to have lived in Hiroshima and 20,000 in Nagasaki during the attack, out of which roughly 30,000 and 10,000 are estimated to have died.

Most of Nagasaki’s Korean victims, who came from Hapcheon County in South Gyeongsang Province, were forcibly conscripted for backbreaking labor in wartime factories. The survivors returned home after the war to establish an organization similar to Nihon Hidankyo, with which the Japanese side maintains close contact. ……

September 26, 2016 - Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war

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