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My people are still suffering from Australia’s secret nuclear testing

 http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/my-people-are-still-suffering-from-australias-secret-nuclear-testing-20171208-h01a3l.html Sue Coleman-Haseldine, 

My name is Sue Coleman-Haseldine. I was born into poverty on the margins of Australian society on the Aboriginal mission of Koonibba in 1951. At this time my people were not allowed to vote and we had very few means to be understood, let alone be heard.

I was born into one of the oldest living cultures known on Earth and into a place that I love – a dusty, arid paradise on the edge of a rugged coastline. Our land and waters are central to our outlook and religion and provide the basis for my people’s health and happiness.

And I was born just before the desert lands to our north were bombed by the deadliest weapons on Earth in an extensive, secretive and devastating manner by the Australian and British governments.

In the 1950s, areas known as Emu Fields and Maralinga were used to test nine full-scale atomic bombs and for 600 other nuclear tests, leaving the land highly radioactive. We weren’t on ground zero, but the dust didn’t stay in one place. The winds brought the poison to us and many others.

Aboriginal people, indeed many people at that time, knew nothing about the effects of radiation. We didn’t know the invisible killer was falling amongst us. Six decades on, my small town of Ceduna is being called the Cancer Capital of Australia. There are so many deaths in our region of various cancers. My grand-daughter and I have had our thyroids removed, and there are many others in our area with thyroid problems. Fertility issues appear common.

 But there has been no long-term assessment of the health impacts in the region and even those involved in the botched clean-ups of the test sites have no recourse because they cannot prove their illness is linked with exposure to nuclear weapons testing.

The impact of the Maralinga and Emu Fields testing has had far-reaching consequences that are still being felt today. Ask a young person from my area, “What do you think you will die from?” The answer is, “Cancer, everyone else is”.

I have lived my life learning about the bomb tests and also learning that the voice of my people and others won’t always be understood or heard. But I learnt from old people now gone that speaking up is important and by joining with others from many different places and backgrounds that our voices can be amplified.

Through these steps I found the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), or perhaps ICAN found me.

ICAN – as an organisation, as a collective of passionate, educated people working for a clear goal – has been so important to me. To know that my story and my voice helps bring recognition to the past and can shape the future of nuclear prohibition has strengthened my resolve.

Being involved in ICAN has been a double-edged sword. On one hand and for the first time in my life, I no longer feel alone or isolated. I have met others from many parts of the globe who have similar stories and experiences and who are passionate advocates for a nuclear-free future.

But the flip side of this is my understanding of just how widespread and just how devastating the nuclear weapons legacy is across the globe. To learn that so many weapons still exist sends fear to my heart. ICAN is a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – in a short time we have gathered support for a treaty to finally outlaw nuclear weapons and help eliminate the nuclear threat.

The vision was reached in part with so many nations adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017. And we should celebrate this win and the opportunity to work together to stop the suffering and assist countries to make amends to nuclear weapons victims by acknowledging the permanent damage done to land, health and culture.

Unfortunately, the Australian government, along with other first world nations, didn’t even participate in the treaty negotiations, and they haven’t signed the treaty yet, but over time we feel confident they will.

A lot has changed since I was born. Aboriginal people now have the right to vote in Australia, but still we battle for understanding about our culture and the Australian nuclear weapons legacy. My home is still remote and most of my people still poor. But we are also no longer alone. We have the means and the will to participate – to share and to learn and to bring about lasting change.

ICAN’s work is not done, our work is not done. We will continue to work together. A world without nuclear weapons is a world we need and are creating. I stand here in hope and gratitude for the opportunity to participate. I stand here with pride and I stand here for our future and the generations to come.

Sue Coleman-Haseldine is a Kokatha woman who lives in Ceduna, South Australia. This is an extract of her speech in Oslo marking the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN.​

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December 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Aboriginal grandmother to testify on nuclear bomb test damage at Maralinga site, in Australia

World spotlight shines on Maralinga horrorhttps://au.news.yahoo.com/a/38090548/world-spotlight-shines-on-maralinga-horror/   Lisa Martin, 30 Nov 17,  Sue Coleman-Haseldine was a toddler crawling around in the dirt when the winds brought the black mist.

Her white nappies on the washing line were burnt.

It was in the 1950s when the British began testing nuclear weapons at Maralinga in the South Australian outback.

The legacy of the bombs dropped continues to haunt the 67-year-old Aboriginal grandmother. “We weren’t on ground zero at Maralinga, otherwise we would all be dead,” she told AAP. “I was born and grew up on a mission at Koonibba, but the winds came to us.”

Ceduna, the main township before the Nullarbor, is the cancer capital of Australia, Ms Coleman-Haseldine says. She’s had her thyroid removed and will be on medication for the rest of her life.

Her 15-year-old granddaughter is also battling thyroid cancer..

There are birth defects and cancers right across the community. “It’s changed our genes,” she said.”These diseases weren’t around before the bombs.”

On December 10, Ms Coleman-Haseldine will be in Oslo for the Noble Peace Prize award ceremony.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is being recognised for its work to achieve a treaty-based ban on nuclear weapons.

So far 122 countries have adopted the treaty, excluding Australia and countries with nuclear weapons – the US, UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

Only three countries have ratified the treaty and 50 are needed for it to become international law.

ICAN is a grassroots movement that began in Carlton, Melbourne more than a decade ago.

In Norway, Ms Coleman-Haseldine will tell the story of her people and their contaminated land.”You’ve got to keep the past alive to protect the future,” she said.

Ms Coleman-Haseldine hopes Australia will reverse its opposition and sign the treaty.

The Turnbull government has ruled that out but the Labor Party will debate the issue at its national conference next year.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Gaol for Australian anti-war protestors at USA’s secret base in theAustralian desert

An American Spy Base Hidden in Australia’s Outback, NYT   The trials — and the Australian government’s uncompromising prosecution of the protesters — has put a spotlight on a facility that the United States would prefer remain in the shadows.

— Margaret Pestorius arrived at court last week in her wedding dress, a bright orange-and-cream creation painted with doves, peace signs and suns with faces. “It’s the colors of Easter, so I always think of it as being a resurrection dress,” said Ms. Pestorius, a 53-year-old antiwar activist and devout Catholic, who on Friday was convicted of trespassing at a top-secret military base operated by the United States and hidden in the Australian outback.

November 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear radiation harmed 3 generations of family, claims British veteran

Veteran claims three generations of family left with deformities due to nuclear test radiation exposure http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/nuclear-test-veteran-from-norfolk-claims-radiation-caused-family-deformities-1-5276518  Luke Powell, luke.powell@archant.co.uk, @LukePowell88  13 November 2017 

When Robert Fleming watched one of the world’s most powerful weapons detonate 60 years ago, little did he know of the lasting impact it would have on future generations. Aged just 24, the RAF serviceman was stationed on an island in the Pacific Ocean when Britain tested its first megaton-class thermonuclear bomb.

Now aged 83, he believes his prolonged exposure to radiation in the following weeks has led to deformities in three generations of his family.

He said his grandson and great grandson suffered problems with their genitals, while his youngest daughter was born with extra knuckles.

In total, he said eight members of his family – mostly grandchildren and great grandchildren – were born with severe health defects.

Mr Fleming is one of several veterans from Norfolk who claim their ill health is linked to the nuclear bomb tests they witnessed in the 1950s.

Many have now shared their stories to mark the 60th anniversary of the UK’s first true hydrogen bomb test on November 8, 1957, codenamed Grapple X.

Around 22,000 men, many on National Service, were ordered to Australia and Christmas Island in the South Pacific from 1952 to witness the explosion of dozens of atomic and hydrogen bombs.

In the following years, many reported increased cases of blood, thyroid and tongue cancers, as well as rare blood disorders. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has always denied blame.

Mr Fleming, who lives in Downham Market, was on a beach on Christmas Island during the Grapple X test.

He was one of around 3,000 servicemen stationed within a 23-mile radius of the planned detonation point.

The men, who were from the RAF, Navy and Army, were given no protective clothing or individual dosimeters to measure radiation levels. Instead, they were told to sit with their backs to the blast and cover their eyes.

Mr Fleming, who also took part in the Grapple Y test months later, believed radioactive fallout contaminated water sources on the island.

He said: “We used to swim in the sea and in the lagoons, shower in sea water and eat fish that were caught there.

“It was all contaminated, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time.”

Mr Fleming said he avoided any major health issues until his later years.

Instead, it was his youngest daughter who was the first to show signs of ill-health. She was born with extra knuckles on both hands, and lost her teeth by the time she was 30.

His wife, Jean, 79, said: “It was frightening. When one of our children fell pregnant we would just think ‘please god let them be alright’.

“But they just started getting more and more wrong with them.”

Mrs Fleming said one grandson was born with his knee caps out of place, while another suffered from a condition affecting his genitals.

Their great grandchildren, meanwhile, suffer from a wide range of health defects, including having no enamel on their teeth, hypermobility, eyesight problems, and genital issues.

Fellow Grapple X veteran Derek Chappell, who lives in Swaffham, said he developed a rare blood disorder decades after the tests.

Known as polycythaemia vera, the condition causes too many red blood cells to be produced in the bone marrow. Cancer Research UK said exposure to radiation can increase the risk of developing the disorder.

Mr Chappell, who was 20 when he witnessed the explosion, had been tasked with recording the blast from the back of an old signals truck.

The 81-year-old said: “There has to be justice for what has happened, but of course everyone who was involved is now getting on a bit.”

Earlier this year, London’s Brunel University announced it was launching a study looking at possible genetic damage caused to nuclear test veterans.

Blood samples were taken from 50 men present at explosions in Christmas Island and South Australia in the 1950s and 1960s.

Samples will also be taken from the men’s wives and children to see if any genetic damage has been passed on.

The UK remains the only nuclear power to deny recognition to its bomb test veterans. France, Russia, the USA, China, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and even the Isle of Man all admit their citizens were harmed by radiation and pay some form of compensation.

My gums started to bleed and my teeth fell out

Veteran David Freeman said his gums started to bleed in the weeks after the Grapple X test.

And within a year, the 78-year-old, from Thorpe St Andrew, said his teeth started to fall out.

But, much like fellow test veteran Robert Fleming, Mr Freeman said it was not just himself who has suffered.

He claimed his daughter also started to lose her teeth, while one grandchild was born deaf, and another only had one kidney.

Mr Freeman, meanwhile, has suffered bowel and bladder cancer.

“When you are exposed to something in the megaton range, you are bound to be affected by radiation of some sort,” he said.

“We must have had the lot, because when it rained on the island, we were walking through six to seven inches of water.”

He also claimed there was an instance on Christmas Island where discoloured rain fell from the sky – a claim backed up by other veterans.

MoD response

The MoD said it was “grateful” to those who participated in the British nuclear testing programme.

But it added: “Other than what we have paid out for, we have seen no valid evidence to link these tests to ill health.”

The MoD said there was no published peer-reviewed evidence of excess illness or mortality among nuclear test veterans as a group, which could be linked to their participation in the tests, and claimed there were “state-of-the-art” procedures in place to ensure the health and safety of those taking part.

The MoD said a possible increase in leukaemia in the first 25 years had been identified. As a result, awards were made under the War Pensions Scheme.

Nuclear test veterans took their case to the Supreme Court but in March 2012 seven justices handed down a majority decision in favour of the MoD.

It said: “All seven justices recognised the veterans would face great difficulty proving a causal link between illnesses suffered and attendance at the tests.”

The nuclear tests

Operation Grapple was the code-name given to a series of nuclear weapon tests carried out by the British in the late 1950s.

Between 1957 and 1958, nine hydrogen bombs were detonated at Malden Island and Christmas Island.

The first series of Grapple tests at Malden Island failed to reach the predicted destructive yield.

But months later on November 8, the Grapple X thermonuclear bomb was dropped by a Valiant bomber five miles off the south east point of Christmas Island.

It detonated after 52 seconds of freefall and created Britain’s first megaton-class explosion, with a yield of 1.8 megatons, 100 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The following test, Grapple Y, was in April 1958 and became the most powerful nuclear weapon ever tested by the UK, with a yield of around three megatons.

In 1958, a moratorium came into effect and Britain never resumed atmospheric testing.

DDT spray over Christmas Island

Radioactive fallout was not the only potential health risk to those stationed on Christmas Island.

Test veteran Gordon Wilcox, 80, from Attleborough, said aircraft would regularly spray the island with the insecticide DDT.

The substance was banned by most developed countries in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr Wilcox, who is chairman of the Anglia branch of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA), said: “There is credible anecdotal evidence to the effect that many individuals would eat their meals in the open air to escape the heat in the mess tents.

“Consequently, they and their food would be invariably exposed to the spray.”

Tests veteran Ron Neal, who attended the anniversary event in Norwich on Wednesday, managed to photograph an aircraft spraying the chemical.

The BNTVA said tests found that DDT is of low hazard and low toxicity to man

November 15, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hiroshima Survivor Setsuko Thurlow to accept Nobel Peace Prize

Canadian who survived Hiroshima nuclear bomb to accept Nobel Peace Prize. This is her story http://nationalpost.com/news/world/canadian-who-survived-hiroshima-nuclear-bomb-to-accept-nobel-peace-prize-this-is-her-story

Hiroshima Survivor Setsuko Thurlow Recalls U.S. Bombing

‘We learned how to step over the dead bodies’: Setsuko Thurlow, 85, was 13 when she survived the attack. She has spent her life since campaigning against nuclear weapons Setsuko Thurlow will be in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10 to jointly accept the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of this year’s laureate, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

The 85-year-old Toronto resident is a Hibakusha — a survivor of the atomic attacks on Japan in 1945. Her hometown of Hiroshima was destroyed by the Americans on August 6, 1945.

Thurlow’s sister, burned and bloated from the blast, lived for four days afterwards. When she spoke, what she expressed was a mother’s guilt: Her child had been badly burned. How could she have let it happen?

“It’s not easy to carry these memories,” Thurlow says. “We learned how to step over the dead bodies.” She recalls feeling numb. She couldn’t cry. All she could do was watch, as Japanese soldiers tossed the lifeless bodies of her sister, Ayako, and her four-year-old nephew, Eiji, into a shallow grave, dousing them with gasoline, throwing in a match. Thurlow was 13.

She has spent much of her life since campaigning against nuclear weapons.

Her weapon is her words — and her resolve to keep telling the story. Thurlow sat down with the National Post at her home in Toronto.

October 27, 2017 Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

Nagasaki nuclear bomb survivor warns America and North Korea, calls for negotiation

‘It kills slowly, painfully’: Nagasaki atomic explosion survivor has a message for US, North Korea http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/it-kills-slowly-painfully-nagasaki-atomic-explosion-survivor-has-a-message-for-us-north-korea/story-BB2nANm1xGmNZ4x73Gx32K.html

Nobu Hanaoka was only 8-months-old when the US dropped Fat Man — a Plutonium bomb — on the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Sep 25, 2017  HT Correspondent  Hindustan Times, New Delhi 

“Does he have all five fingers?” This was a Nagasaki atomic bomb survivor’s first question to the doctor when his son was born.Nobu Hanaoka, 73, says he was relieved when the doctor replied that his son was in perfect health. “I had hoped that the radiation did not affect the child,” Hanaoka told Al Jazeera.

Hanaoka was only eight months old when the US dropped ‘Fat Man’ — a Plutonium bomb — on the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, killing about 74,000 people. Three days before, ‘Little Boy’ — the first-ever atomic bomb, dropped on Hiroshima — had claimed 140,000 lives.

Hanaoka — clad in a simple, grey coat, has a message for the United States and North Korea as tensions escalate between the two countries over the possibility of a nuclear war.

“This is the kind of weapon that doesn’t just kill. It kills indiscriminately. It kills slowly and painfully.”

“And it shouldn’t be allowed on the surface of the Earth,” the survivor says after a pause.

“We were not even in the city of Nagasaki. We were outside. And yet the radiation that came from the bombing went far beyond the city limits,” Hanaoka said, before explaining the three ways an atomic bomb can kill.

Hanaoka’s mother and sister died due to radiation when he was six, he says, adding that he overheard the doctor telling his father the boy wouldn’t live to see his 10th birthday. “So I knew that I was not going to live long,” Hanaoka says in the video.

The atomic bomb survivor says he was always concerned for his health and feared he was dying when he got a simple cold. He also had survivor’s guilt, a mental condition in which a person feels remorse for surviving a traumatic event when others did not. “Why did my sister and mother, who were wonderful people… beautiful and smart and gentle, and they had to die.”

“And yet, I, who am not unworthy, am still alive?”

“I want all nations to come together and start finding a way of eliminating nuclear weapons altogether,” Hanaoka tells Al Jazeera after warning that there will be millions of casualties if either the US or North Korea is attacked with radioactive weapons.

North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho told the United Nations General Assembly last week that targeting the US mainland with its rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Donald Trump called Pyongyang’s leader a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.

Trump, too, dialled up the rhetoric against North Korea over the weekend, warning Ho that he and its leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” as Pyongyang staged a major anti-US rally.

The North had threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea and fired two missiles over the northern island of Hokkaido in the space of less than a month. Pyongyang said this month it had carried out an underground test on a hydrogen bomb estimated to be 16 times the size of the US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. It was its sixth and largest nuclear test.

Survivors of Hiroshima-Nagasaki — the only two nuclear attacks in the history of mankind — warned of the threat of atomic weapons in a photo essay by the Time magazine last month. It quoted another survivor Fujio Torikoshi (86) as saying all he wanted was to forget the bombing. “We cannot continue to sacrifice precious lives to warfare. All I can do is pray – earnestly, relentlessly – for world peace.”

September 30, 2017 Posted by | history, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference | Leave a comment

Remembering an intelligent man who saved the world from WW3

‘I was just doing my job’: Soviet officer who averted nuclear war dies at age 77 https://www.rt.com/news/403625-nuclear-soviet-officer-died/ 

Soviet officer saves world from Armageddon – Cold War unknown facts 

A decision that Soviet lieutenant colonel Stanislav Petrov once took went down in history as one that stopped the Cold War from turning into nuclear Armageddon, largely thanks to Karl Schumacher, a political activist from Germany who helped the news of his heroism first reach a western audience nearly two decades ago.

On September 7, Schumacher, who kept in touch with Petrov in the intervening years, phoned him to wish him a happy birthday, but instead learned from Petrov’s son, Dmitry, that the retired officer had died on May 19 in his home in a small town near Moscow.

On September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov was on duty in charge of an early warning radar system in a bunker near Moscow, when just past midnight he saw the radar screen showing a single missile inbound from the United States and headed toward the Soviet Union.

“When I first saw the alert message, I got up from my chair. All my subordinates were confused, so I started shouting orders at them to avoid panic. I knew my decision would have a lot of consequences,” Petrov recalled of that fateful night in an interview with RT in 2010.

“The siren went off for a second time. Giant blood-red letters appeared on our main screen, saying START. It said that four more missiles had been launched,” he said. From the moment the warheads had taken off, there was only half an hour for the Kremlin to decide on whether to push the red button in retaliation and just 15 minutes for Petrov to determine whether the threat was real and report to his commanders.

“My cozy armchair felt like a red-hot frying pan and my legs went limp. I felt like I couldn’t even stand up. That’s how nervous I was when I was taking this decision,” he told RT.

Taught that in case of a real attack the US would have gone on an all-out offensive, Petrov told his bosses the alarm must have been caused by a system malfunction.
“I’ll admit it, I was scared. I knew the level of responsibility at my fingertips,” he said.

It was later revealed that what the Soviet satellites took for missiles launch was sunlight reflected from clouds. Petrov’s action, however, received no praise, and he was scolded for not filling in a service journal. His superiors were blamed for the system’s flaws. “My superiors were getting the blame and they did not want to recognize that anyone did any good, but instead chose to spread the blame.”

For over 10 years, the incident was kept secret as highly classified. Even Petrov’s wife, Raisa, who died in 1997, didn’t know anything of the role her husband played in averting nuclear war.

That was until 1998, when Petrov’s superintendent, Colonel General Yury Votintsev, spoke out and a report about the officer’s quiet deed appeared in the German tabloid Bild.

“After reading this report, I was as if struck by thunder,” Karl Schumacher wrote in his blog.

“I could not get rid of the idea that I had to do something for the man who prevented an atomic war and thus saved the world,” says Schumacher, for whom “nuclear threat was so real for decades.”

Schumacher flew to Russia to find the man who saved the world, and found him living in a flat in Fryazino, northeast of Moscow. Schumacher invited Petrov to the German town of Oberhausen, so that locals would find out about the episode of when the world was teetering on the edge of nuclear catastrophe.

During his stay in Germany, Petrov appeared on local TV and gave interviews to several daily newspapers. Global recognition followed that trip, with major awards presented to him. In 2006, the Association of World Citizens handed him an award, which reads: “To the man who averted nuclear war,” in the UN headquarters in New York.

In 2012, Petrov was honored with the German Media Prize, also awarded to Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama and Kofi Annan. Next year he received another accolade, the Dresden Peace Prize, with the prize given by a 25-year-old Dresden resident, who “belongs to the generation that would not have survived had it not been for Stanislav Petrov.”

Based on his story, the movie “The man who saved the world”premiered in 2014, featuring actor Kevin Costner. The actor sent Petrov $500 as a “thank you” for making the right decision.

“At first when people started telling me that these TV reports had started calling me a hero, I was surprised. I never thought of myself as one – after all, I was literally just doing my job,” Petrov said.

September 18, 2017 Posted by | history, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Remembering America’s nuclear scientists of The Mahattan Project, those who died young because of nuclear radiation

Paul Waldon, fight to stop nuclear waste dump in flinders ranges sa, 15 Sept 17, Today the 15th of September is another red letter day in the nuclear arena, with the 72nd anniversary of the death of Haroutune Krikor “Harry” Daglian, physicist with the Manhattan Project. Harry was NOT the only person working on the project to die from “Acute Radiation Syndrome” but he was the youngest at only 24 years of age. Three members of the big four were to follow Harry to a early grave with cancer deemed to be from the radiation they were subjected to during their time on the Manhattan and other projects. The contaminated materials left over from the development of the bombs are still having a impact on life and the environment, and will continue to do so for generations. However the deaths and contamination on American soil from the development of the bombs, outnumber Japans. RIP Harry. https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

September 16, 2017 Posted by | health, history, PERSONAL STORIES, radiation, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

HOW 5 PEOPLE SURVIVED NAGASAKI’S NUCLEAR HELL

 http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/people/how-5-people-survived-nagasakis-nuclear-hell.aspx   Three days after Hiroshima, an American B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. A new book tells stories of those who lived through horror. on August 9, 1945, an American B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, obliterating much of it and killing 74,000 people, mostly civilians. It was only the second time in history an atomic bomb had been used as a weapon. BY SIMON WORRALL 14 SEPTEMBER 2017  In Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, Susan Southard follows the lives of five hibakusha (survivors) who escaped the firestorm and through extraordinary courage and resilience went on to live happy, fulfilled lives.

Speaking from her home in Arizona, she talks about the battle for the truth over what happened in Nagasaki; how square dancing helped heal the wounds of war; and why the survivors no longer harbour feelings of animosity towards Americans.

Yours is the first book to tell this story. Why has it taken so long?

“Some people may know about Hiroshima, but they don’t know about Nagasaki. They say, “Oh, there was a second bombing?” Many people also don’t know that people survived the bombings.

One of the reasons is that the bombs were kept top secret. Very few military leaders knew they existed, except for the people who were creating the bombs and those directly overseeing them. After the bombs were dropped, several factors, both in the U.S. and Japan, contributed to people not knowing the effects.

One was direct denial of any radiation effects by key U.S. military leaders like General Leslie Groves, General Thomas Farrell and the U.S. War Department. During the U.S. occupation of Japan, which lasted from 1945 to 1952, General Douglas MacArthur also instituted a strict press code banning “false or destructive criticism” of the Allied powers out of concern that too much anger could put the thousands of U.S. troops in Japan at risk.

General Groves and others promoted the idea that the Japanese were using the effects of the bomb as anti-American propaganda. So, the people of Japan, other than the people in the cities directly affected, didn’t know for years what was happening in their own country. There was medical censorship as well. Physicians working with the survivors weren’t allowed to publish studies or findings of what was happening.

They also didn’t want the decision to use the bombs to be challenged in the U.S., by books like John Hersey’s Hiroshima. So President Truman and the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, made a concerted effort to publish articles justifying the use of the bombs, excluding any information about what happened to the people beneath the atomic clouds.

The justifications were so airtight that they became the dominant way of perceiving the decision to use the bombs on Japan: that the two bombs ended the war and saved a million American lives.”

What made you want to write this book?

“It has deep roots in my life. In high school, I spent a year as an exchange student in Japan and happened to go on a field trip to the southern island of Kyushu, where I visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. I stood next to my Japanese classmates as the only American and observed the destruction.

But the key event came in 1986, when one of the Nagasaki survivors, Taniguchi Sumiteru, who was 57 years old by then, came to Washington on a speaking tour. I went to hear him speak, then, through a series of unexpected events, his interpreter became unable to complete the last few days of his time in Washington, and I became his interpreter.

In between his presentations we spent hours together. I got to ask him questions and tried to grasp what his experience had been like; it was truly a horrific experience. His entire back had been burned off. From that time on I couldn’t get out of my mind what it would be like to have survived nuclear war.”

Explain the term “hypocenter” and describe the destructive power of the blast in relation to it.

“Contrary to what some of us might imagine, the bomb did not explode on the ground but about one-third of a mile above ground. The purpose was to maximize the blast force and the effect of the heat on the city because the blast and the heat would travel further.

The area directly beneath the blast is called the “hypocenter.” The heat on the ground directly below it was about 5,000 to 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit. For quite a long distance, buildings were pulverized and trees, plants, and animals were blown away or carbonized. It’s an unimaginable level of instantaneous destruction.”

You recount the stories of five survivors. I want to focus on two of them: Do-oh Mineko and Taniguchi. Where were they at the moment of impact and what happened to them?

“Taniguchi was 16 years old at the time. He was delivering mail in the northwestern part of the valley on his bicycle. He was facing away from the blast a little over a mile away. He was thrown off his bicycle and although he didn’t know it at the time, because he was in a daze, his entire back was burned off. He also had severe burns on his arms and legs.

The earth was shaking but he was able to stand up. He gathered the mail he could still see. All the children that had been playing around him were dead. He wandered to a factory and some men carried him to a hillside where they laid him on his stomach. He lay there for two nights, dipping in and out of consciousness, while his grandfather searched for him.

Do-oh was about three-fourths of a mile from the hypocenter, inside a Mitsubishi torpedo factory. The massive steel and concrete Mitsubishi factory collapsed on top of her and thousands of others. Remarkably, she was able to get up. She had a big gash in the back of her neck and was desperate to escape because fires were beginning to flare around her. She had to step over dead bodies to get to an embankment, where her father found her.”

Tanaguchi’s ordeal is of almost biblical proportions. Tell us about his first few years after the bombing.

“There were no hospitals or medical supplies in Nagasaki, so he was taken to a village outside Nagasaki with his grandfather and cared for in a very basic way for three months. He was finally taken to a naval hospital in Omura, 22 miles north of Nagasaki, where he finally began to get proper medical care.

He lay on his stomach in extraordinary agony for three years. As he wasn’t able to lie on his sides or his back, he got incredibly deep bedsores—so deep, that the doctors could see his internal organs, including his heart beating. He was finally released from the hospital on March 20, 1949, when he was 20 years old.”

One of the more bizarre actions taken by the Americans after the bombing was to introduce square dancing. What was that all about?

“It’s so crazy! And quite lovely in the end. It began in Nagasaki. The people assigned to lead the occupation efforts in Nagasaki were very sympathetic toward the suffering of the survivors and tried to find ways to help them. One night, the civilian education officer for the U.S. occupation in Nagasaki, Winfield Niblo, was at a dinner party with Japanese educators.

Afterwards, there was a presentation of Japanese folk dancing. Niblo decided to present some American square dancing to add to the festivities. It caught on nationally to become a post-war American contribution to Japanese life.”

One of the things that shocked me was the extent to which the hibakusha werediscriminated against and mocked by their fellow Japanese. They were even called “tempura face.”

“It was surprising to me as well. The children were made fun of and laughed at. Those who were disfigured, even after the economy recovered a decade later, had trouble getting jobs. Even those who had no physical disfigurement often kept their status as a hibakusha quiet. It made it difficult to get a job and their marriage prospects were almost completely eliminated. Anyone who found out they were hibakusha was afraid of the genetic effects that radiation would have on their children. Many of them married other hibakusha.”

It took many years for the survivors to tell their stories. Why was it so difficult for them to go public and what changed their minds?

“Recovering from nuclear war is a very long process—healthwise, psychologically and economically. Some lost every member of their family and all their friends. The survivors I write about were all in their teen years at the time of the bombing. It was something so extremely painful that they didn’t want to revisit it.

The people who did decide to speak out, including the five survivors I feature in my book, had very personal reasons. One told me that as he held his first granddaughter in his arms, he had a flashback of a baby’s charred body that he had to step over as he was helping in the relief effort. He suddenly realized I have to do something about this, I don’t want my beautiful granddaughter to ever experience what I experienced.

Together, he and other hibakusha are fighting to ensure that Nagasaki will be the last city to be destroyed by an atomic bomb.”

How did the survivors feel towards the United States?

“Each survivor is different. Two I know well had a lot of anger towards the U.S. for dropping the bomb and causing this suffering. Others were so preoccupied with survival and grief and trying to deal with the medical implications that they didn’t think about the Americans too much. They just had to survive. The five I know well no longer feel negatively toward Americans. They accept that it was the governments and militaries of each nation that waged war, not individuals.”

Do-oh’s story has a remarkable happy ending. Tell us about her afterlife in Tokyo.

“Do-oh lost all her hair after the bomb. It didn’t grow back for 10 years, so she remained in her house until she was 25 years old. Her father said she had to learn how to support herself as an adult.

Before the war, she had dreamed of being in fashion so she got a part time job in Nagasaki in a cosmetics shop and was eventually offered a job in Tokyo with that same company. Against her parents’ wishes and cultural norms, she went on her own to Tokyo and began a new life. She worked fiercely and over time rose in the ranks to become a Senior VP of Utena, one of Japan’s leading cosmetics companies. It was unheard of at that time for a woman to have such a high executive position with a corporation.

She then returned to Nagasaki for retirement. She was an artist and poet as well, and she created this beautiful work of art, with green stems and a purple flowering iris. In Japanese writing from the top right, down, she says, “Thank you for a good life.”

How did the time you spent with these survivors change your life, Susan?

“It expanded my appreciation of human courage, resilience and strength. I also learned to appreciate the complexity of political and military actions and decisions, the consequences of those decisions, and how we respond and react to them.

I’ve been changed very profoundly by getting to know these people and being allowed to know the many difficult, intimate moments of their lives, which were split in half by nuclear war.”

September 15, 2017 Posted by | health, history, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

One woman’s story of the horrific Hiroshima nuclear bombing

A Hiroshima survivor’s apocalyptic tale underscores Japanese abhorrence for the Bomb, Straits Times, Ravi Velloor, Associate Editor, 9 Sept 17  “……Mrs Yoshiko Kajimoto, now a sprightly 86, experienced the blast first-hand. She knows something of wars: She had just entered secondary school when the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out and in the sixth grade when the Pacific War, as Japanese call World War II, broke out. And she was in the 9th grade when the bomb arrived.

Middle school kids were mobilised for the war effort. For this reason, she was in a factory making propeller parts, 2.5km from the blast centre when the moment came.

“It was a clear day without the trace of a cloud,” she said, hands and voice steady as she recounted the trauma. “It had been warm since early morning and there were no warnings of an air raid.”

Then, a flash of light.

“The faces of my parents and my grandfather passed before my eyes and I thought I was dead. It was as though Earth had exploded.”

As she had been trained to do, Mrs Kajimoto pressed her fingers to her eyes to prevent them from falling out of their sockets, as the shock wave arrived moments later, meanwhile trying to scramble to safety under the machines.

“My body was lifted up and I passed out of consciousness. When I came to, my friend, stuck under a machine was whimpering: ‘Help me, Mother. Help me, Teacher!’ My shoulders and legs were trapped. I shook my head and the ash fell from my mouth. The flesh had been ripped off my bones. The factory roof had collapsed. I knew I was alive only because of the pain. People had gone insane. In the distance, I heard someone wail: ‘Hiroshima is gone’.”

Mrs Kajimoto tore off her blouse to put a tourniquet on her bleeding friend, and used her school headband to fasten it further. Around her was a scene so ghoulish that it was worse than the worst nightmares.

People had their nails ripped out, faces had puffed up like balloons, lips had turned inside out. A fellow student approached her, one hand holding a nearly torn-off arm. Suddenly, she knelt before her, and slumped to the ground, dead.

Fires raged everywhere. A mother holding a dead baby was spinning around, insanely.

Then, incredibly, the 14-year-old felt fear leave her as she stepped over bodies and on shiny skin as she helped carry friends to nearby Oshiba Park.

Then, the cremations started and a foul smell spread through the city. There were maggots everywhere, including on her own body.

On the third day, she heard her own neighbourhood was safe, and she staggered towards her home, meeting her father along the way. He had gone to the factory and turned over each body as he looked for her. Seeing her, he broke down and extracted a ball of rice he had been carrying in his pocket as a good luck charm.

For the next few weeks, she was bed-ridden, her grandmother removing maggots from her body with chopsticks.

Two months later, a doctor arrived to remove glass shards from her body. A year and a half later, the father died vomiting blood.

“He had probably been affected by the radiation from walking three days in the city,” she said. “Those days there was no concept of radiation, because it is colourless and odourless.”

Mrs Kajimoto herself suffered gastric cancer in later years and had two-thirds of her stomach removed.

Then peace arrived, and so did poverty. She had to provide for three brothers and food was frequently short.

“For the dead it was hell. For the survivors it was hell too.”

Mrs Kajimoto’s husband died 17 years ago, and she has two daughters, eight grandkids and two great grandchildren. Her fortunes have improved but for five decades, she said, she didn’t want to talk about her experience, until a grandson convinced her she must tell her story. That’s how I got to hear of it.

“I do not ask for disarmament, but I demand abolition of nuclear weapons,” she told me. “Nuclear weapons are an absolute evil and cannot exist with human beings. I do not want Hiroshima, or Nagasaki, to be repeated anywhere.”

“Am I concerned over the North Korean situation? Of course, I am. And I believe, that is the sentiment with the young as well. I say that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should visit North Korea (for talks) even at the risk of his life.”

Is this point of view limited to the few thousands still around who saw the curse of Hiroshima? Not hardly. After a week in Japan, I’d say that there are millions who share the same view.

Japan has all the technology in place to build a nuclear arsenal. From the moment a decision is taken to having ready bombs will probably take a few weeks, no more. But it will be a brave Japanese prime minister who orders those final turns of the screws for Japan’s first atomic bomb. http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/a-hiroshima-survivors-apocalyptic-tale-underscores-japanese-abhorrence-for-the-bomb

September 11, 2017 Posted by | history, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war, Women | Leave a comment

Death of Sumiteru Taniguchi, Nagasaki Survivor and Nuclear Arms Foe

he gave a speech at the United Nations in New York during a meeting to consider a nonproliferation treaty.

A month before he died, the United Nations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

“He played a tremendous role,” said Terumi Tanaka, secretary general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations. “But unless all countries sign the treaty, there is no guarantee that nuclear weapons will disappear.”

Sumiteru Taniguchi, Nagasaki Survivor and Nuclear Arms Foe, Dies at 88 Hisako Ueno, Makiko Inoue and Kaho Futagami contributed research.AUG. 31, 2017 TOKYO — Sumiteru Taniguchi, who survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki as a teenager and went on to become a leading advocate for nuclear disarmament, died on Wednesday in Nagasaki. Overcoming a lifetime of debilitating pain and radiation-related illnesses, he lived to 88.

September 1, 2017 Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

Remembering Tony deBrum

He saw a nuclear blast at 9, then spent his life opposing nuclear war and climate change, WP,   August 24 As a 9-year-old on an island between Hawaii and Australia, Tony deBrum witnessed the explosion of the largest bomb ever detonated by the United States. The “Castle Bravo” nuclear weapon was 1,000 times as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

From his perch 280 miles from ground zero, Mr. deBrum saw the flash of light — silent and brighter than the sun — and watched the sky turn red as blood. The terrifying thunder from the test explosion stayed with him the rest of his life, which he devoted to representing the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands at home and abroad.

Mr. deBrum, who helped gain his nation’s independence from the United States — and then helped sue the U.S. for allegedly breaching an international treaty on nuclear nonproliferation — died Aug. 22 in Majuro, the capital city of his Pacific island nation. He was 72…… https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/he-saw-a-nuclear-blast-at-9-then-spent-his-life-opposing-nuclear-war-and-climate-change/2017/08/24/5b6d10e6-882e-11e7-a94f-3139abce39f5_story.html?utm_term=.18c641eccfdb

August 26, 2017 Posted by | OCEANIA, opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

Never again – new Hibakusha victims – no nuclear weapons – Sueichi Kido

New head of A-bomb sufferers’ group strives for a world with no new hibakusha https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170812/p2a/00m/0na/025000c, August 13, 2017 (Mainichi Japan) “The dropping of an atomic bomb is an act decided by humans. Likewise, if humans decide to work together, we can eliminate nuclear weapons.” These were the words uttered by 77-year-old Sueichi Kido, who took over from Terumi Tanaka, 85, in June, as secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations after Tanaka had served in the role for 20 years.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Bill Curry met Donald Trump – found him to be a damaged, pathetic personality – and worse now

Over time, his mental health seemed to decline. He threw more and bigger public tantrums; lied more often and less artfully. The media, also in decline and knowing a ratings magnet when it saw one, turned a blind eye.
In 2016, the precariousness of Trump’s mental health was clear to all with eyes to see, but like extras in a remake of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” reporters averted their glances. The day after the election, they were all in a state of shock, like staff at an asylum who woke one morning to find that the patient who thought he was Napoleon had just been named emperor of France. Once he took office, many publications began keeping running tallies of his lies. But all take a more cautious approach to questions of their origins in his deeply troubled psyche. To date, no major network, newspaper or magazine has run an in-depth analysis of Trump’s mental health
My meeting with Donald Trump: A damaged, pathetic personality — whose obvious impairment has only gotten worseI didn’t get his endorsement when I ran for governor — but the severely troubled man I met has only gotten worse, Salon.com.  BILL CURRY 12 Aug 17, In 1994, I visited the home of Donald Trump. He was a Democrat then, of sorts, and I was the party’s nominee for governor of Connecticut. He’d taken an interest in our state owing to his keen desire to lodge a casino in Bridgeport, an idea I found economically and morally dubious. I had scant hope of enlisting him, but made the trip anyway, thinking that if I convinced him I might win, he’d be less apt to bankroll my opponent.
I arrived at Trump Tower in early evening, accompanied by my finance chair and an old friend and colleague. Stepping off the elevator into his apartment, we were met by a display of sterile, vulgar ostentation: all gold, silver, brass, marble; nothing soft, welcoming or warm. Trump soon appeared and we began to converse, but not really. In campaigns, we candidates do most of the talking; because we like to, and because people ask us lots of questions. Not this time. Not by a long shot.
Trump talked very rapidly and virtually nonstop for nearly an hour; not of my campaign or even of politics, but only of himself, and almost always in the third person. He’d given himself a nickname: “the Trumpster,” as in “everybody wants to know what the Trumpster’s gonna do,” a claim he made more than once.

He mostly told stories. Some were about his business deals; others about trips he’d taken or things he owned. All were unrelated to the alleged point of our meeting, and to one another. That he seldom even attempted segues made each tale seem more disconnected from reality than the last. It was funny at first, then pathetic, and finally deeply unsettling.

On the drive home, we all burst out laughing, then grew quiet. What the hell just happened? My first theory, that Trump was high on cocaine, didn’t feel quite right, but he was clearly emotionally impaired: in constant need of approbation; lacking impulse control, self-awareness or awareness of others. We’d heard tales of his monumental vanity, but were still shocked by the sad spectacle of him.

That visit colored all my later impressions of Trump. Over time, his mental health seemed to decline. He threw more and bigger public tantrums; lied more often and less artfully. The media, also in decline and knowing a ratings magnet when it saw one, turned a blind eye. Sensing impunity, Trump revived the racist ‘birther’ lie. In 2011, he told the “Today” show’s Meredith Vieira he had unearthed some dark secrets:

Vieira: You have people now down there searching, I mean in Hawaii?

Trump: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they’re finding

As Trump recycled old lies, Vieira had a queasy look but no apparent knowledge of the facts. Of course, there weren’t any. Trump had no proof of Obama being born in Kenya. (Since there is none.) It’s highly doubtful he had any researchers in Hawaii. (It was only after Vieira asked him that he claimed he did.) Later, when Trump’s story crumbled, he followed a rule taught by his mentor, Roy Cohn, infamous architect of McCarthyism: Admit nothing. To Trump, a lie is worth a thousand pictures.

By 2016, the private Trump was on permanent public display, raging over mere slights, seeing plots in every ill turn of events and, as always, stunningly self-absorbed. He was called a racist, a sexist and a bully. But his mental health issues were euphemized as problems of “temperament.” He lied ceaselessly, reflexively and clumsily, but his lies were called merely “unproven” or, later, “false.” The New York Times called the birther story a lie only after Trump grudgingly retracted it. Not till he was safe in office claiming that millions of phantom immigrants cast votes for Clinton did the paper of record use the word “lie” in reference to a tale Trump was still telling.

In 2016, the precariousness of Trump’s mental health was clear to all with eyes to see, but like extras in a remake of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” reporters averted their glances. The day after the election, they were all in a state of shock, like staff at an asylum who woke one morning to find that the patient who thought he was Napoleon had just been named emperor of France. Once he took office, many publications began keeping running tallies of his lies. But all take a more cautious approach to questions of their origins in his deeply troubled psyche. To date, no major network, newspaper or magazine has run an in-depth analysis of Trump’s mental health……http://www.salon.com/2017/08/12/my-meeting-with-donald-trump-a-damaged-pathetic-personality-whose-obvious-impairment-has-only-gotten-worse/.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, politics, USA | Leave a comment

The human effect – as New York and other cities become climate changed sweltering hotspots

Climate change is turning cities into harsh, sweltering hotspots http://grist.org/article/climate-change-is-turning-cities-into-harsh-sweltering-hotspots/ Tina Johnson has a sense of place. She’s a fourth-generation New Yorker who lives in the same apartment in West Harlem’s Grant housing development that her grandparents lived in. She calls that apartment her anchor, and the nine buildings that make up the development towering above 125th Street — home to roughly 4,400 residents spread across nine high rises — a small town.

August 7, 2017 Posted by | climate change, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment