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Hibakusha and anti-nuclear activists versus the corporate nuclear goliaths 

 

Ground Zecorporatero Nagasaki: Living the nuclear past – and future, Asia Times, By SUSAN SOUTHARD JANUARY 18, 2019  A David-and-Goliath nuclear world

“………..I returned to Nagasaki in November to participate in the city’s sixth Global Citizens Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Specifically, I was invited to present on a panel tasked with exploring ways to carry forward the hibakusha stories.

What made the conference unique was the participation of both  hibakusha and other citizens of Nagasaki, including high-school and university students, scholars, activists, artists, musicians, writers and interpreters. All of them were intent on exploring new ways to communicate stories of survival, from August 1945 to now, experiences that should remind us why the vision of a world without nuclear weapons matters.

Both panelists and participants again confronted the intensity of nuclear war. As hibakusha Kado Takashi, 83, prepared to stand before the assembly and tell his story for the very first time, he turned to me and pounded his heart with his hands to show me how terrified he was. Then, summoning his courage, he began to speak.

Yamanishi Sawa, 17, tenderly told her grandmother’s story of survival and her own tale of teenage activism both at her school and in meetings with anti-nuclear activists in Geneva, Switzerland. Everyday citizens adopted the stories of hibakusha no longer with us, using the survivors’ own words to recall the hell – and humanity – of nuclearized Nagasaki.

All of this, and more, reminded us of what those survivors have long known but the rest of the world seldom stops to grasp: that there’s nothing abstract about nuclear war and that nuclear weapons can never be instruments of peace.

They know what the world’s top nuclear physicists (and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists with its doomsday clock) have been telling us for decades: Whether by intentional use, human error, technological failure, or an act of terrorism, our world remains at high risk of a nuclear conflagration that could leave Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the shade. Rather than a great-power war, even a regional nuclear conflict between, say, India and Pakistan could create a planetary “nuclear winter” that might, in the end, kill up to a billion people.

Keep in mind, as these Nagasaki activists do, that today there are nearly 15,000 weapons in the nuclear arsenals of nine countries. Of these, almost 4,000 are actively deployed across the globe. Theoretically, they are meant to deter another country from launching a nuclear attack, but the success of such deterrence policies relies, in part, on both technological invulnerability and relatively rational decision-makers. Need more be said in the age of Trump, Kim Jong Un, and others?

Most important, for nuclear deterrence to work, a nation must be committed to – and believed by other nations to be committed to – the mass murder, injury and irradiation of huge civilian populations. We rarely consider what this really means.

It was difficult to tell an audience like the one in Nagasaki that many Americans still wholeheartedly support both the atomic bombings of Japan and their country’s continuing development of its nuclear arsenal. To mitigate this discouraging truth, I cited something Wada Koichi told me years ago.

Now 91, Wada was inside Nagasaki’s streetcar terminal when the bomb brought the building crashing down on top of him and his coworkers. If you can call anything about surviving nuclear war lucky, he was one of the lucky ones. He suffered only minor injuries and mild radiation sickness, and all of his family members survived.

The rest of them evacuated Nagasaki after the bombing, but he stayed to work, day after day, on rescue and recovery teams. He watched his best friend die, lighting the match to the boy’s makeshift funeral pyre. In November 1945, when seven streetcars resumed operation on a few routes in the city, he drove the fourth one, thrilled to be a part of

Nagasaki’s recovery.

Sixty years after the bombing, Wada would awaken every morning at 5am, open his bedroom window, and look out on to the Urakami Valley, marveling at how the city had been rebuilt from those atomic ruins. “One person can’t do anything,” he told me, “but if many people gather together, they can accomplish unimaginable things. If it’s possible to rebuild this city out of nothing, why isn’t it possible for us to eliminate war and nuclear weapons, to create peace? We can’t not do it!”

Before I left Nagasaki, I visited the hypocenter memorial and looked up into the blue sky at the spot where, I imagined, the atomic bomb had exploded, changing human history forever. I spent 12 years writing  Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, and the stories of that city and its hibakusha remain part of every breath I take.

The hibakusha of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the other anti-nuclear activists across the globe – including members of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in passing the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – are the Davids of our world. They face the Goliaths – those nuclear-weapons states that cling to arsenals capable of destroying humanity.

In the face of such resolute, immensely powerful Goliaths, the Davids are the next generation of energetic, passionate, creative thinkers who single-mindedly refuse to let us forget or rationalize Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and who believe in a world of mutually supported international safety without nuclear weapons.

On behalf of Wada Koichi, all hibakusha past and present, and the entire human race, my bet is on them.

This article appeared previously at TomDispatchRead the original here.   http://www.atimes.com/ground-zero-nagasaki-living-the-nuclear-past-and-future/

 

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January 19, 2019 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, Arclight's Vision, opposition to nuclear

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