The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

‘Hibakusha’ talks scrapped after Nagasaki bomb threat


NAGASAKI–A bomb threat against schools in Nagasaki Prefecture prompted the cancellation of peace-promotion events featuring “hibakusha” atomic bomb survivors sharing their horrific experiences in World War II.

We decided to call off an event, giving top priority to the safety of participants,” said an official with the Kita-Kyushu municipal government in Fukuoka Prefecture, also on the southern main island of Kyushu.

An e-mail sent in late July to the Nagasaki prefectural government said elementary and junior high schools would be blown up on Aug. 10 or Aug. 11. No reason was given for the threat.

The Kita-Kyushu government had organized a one-day bus tour to Nagasaki for 270 elementary and junior high school students, as well as their parents, as part of a peace-promotion program.

The initial itinerary included a visit to Shiroyama Elementary School to listen to the accounts of hibakusha on Aug. 9, the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city.

The school is near ground zero, and many of its students and teachers were killed in the blast on Aug. 9, 1945.

But tour organizers dropped the visit to the school from the schedule after Shiroyama Elementary School had informed them of the bomb threat.

The scrapped visit to the school gave the tour participants more time to spend at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the site of the hypocenter. In the morning, they visited a civic hall in Nagasaki to watch a live broadcast of a ceremony for atomic bomb victims held at Nagasaki Peace Park.

A group of 15 students ranging from elementary to high school age, also from Kita-Kyushu, canceled an event to hear the atomic bomb survivors’ accounts scheduled for Aug. 10 at Shiroyama Elementary School and elsewhere in light of the bomb threat.

The group visited Nagasaki from Aug. 8 to take part in a peace forum for young people.

The Nagasaki prefectural board of education had urged elementary and junior high schools to refrain from activities on Aug. 10-11. Those days passed without incident in the city.

August 20, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Voice to Survivors from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima

In Japan the Hibakusha are the exposed–exposed to the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now more then ever are the words of the Hibakusha crucial to hear as we contemplate exactly what happens when a nuclear bomb is dropped. Ari’s project documents their testimony. He is in a unique position to do so because his grandfather, Jacob Beser, was the only man in the world to serve as a crewman on both B-29s that dropped the atomic bombs.

In a two-part series, Hibakusha: The Nuclear Family examines the social impact of nuclear technology in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima.

Hiroshima – Today, with some distance of time and perspective, we can think about Hiroshima with a more balanced compassion than a few decades ago. It has become possible to reflect on not only the justification for the first dropping of an atomic bomb on a populated city, but also on how that impacted the many thousands of people caught up in the blast and its aftermath.

It was a bombing American hearts decided was justified — but which minds have largely disconnected from in terms of consequences for humanity. This was evident when the current Republican candidate for President allegedly questioned why we don’t use our nuclear weapons for a third time.


Yoshie Oka returns to the bunker where she survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

Next January, either Donald J. Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton will receive the nuclear football from President Obama. Either one of seemingly the two most controversial people in modern U.S. political history is going be in charge of our nuclear codes, a certain outcome of this election we should be most concerned about.

Seventy-one years ago my grandfather Jacob Beser was flying in the back of a B-29 listening to the radio. He wasn’t listening to Beyonce—He was listening to frequency. He was monitoring a device that was going to end the war. This is what he trained for. This is what he knew and was prepared to die for. If anything went wrong, he was told to eat the device’s frequency code, written on a small piece of paper.


Sumiteru Taniguchi holds up photos of himself immediately after the bombing of Nagasaki. A prominent advocate for nuclear abolition, he was nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.

None of that was necessary. He did his job right, and he saw what men were capable of. He saw it twice, over Nagasaki too, and he never expressed guilt about it. But he, like the rest of America, disconnected from the reality of the human suffering 32,000 feet below. He, like the majority of his countrymen, believed in their hearts it was necessary.

When my grandfather looked out the window, he likened the mushroom cloud to sand in the water, the way it billows along the shoreline in the tide. He couldn’t connect with the children in the streets or the people as they packed in train cars on their way to work. He couldn’t connect to the horrors they would experience and live with for the rest of their lives.


Suano Tsuboi moments before meeting President Obama in Hiroshima during the historic Presidential visit to the city on May 27, 2016.

Can we make those connections, America? Can we stop saying “What about Pearl Harbor” long enough to look at what World War II brought humanity to accomplish? Can we ask ourselves, “What will it take to bring us there again?”

I am not asking for a justification. I am not asking for an apology. I am asking that we listen to the stories of the atomic bomb survivors as a testimony to the evils of nuclear war.

Today I invite you to my Facebook community, Hibakusha: The Nuclear Family, where you can learn about what it was like under the mushroom clouds. I’ve called it a Blogumentary. It is an interactive online documentary that begs you to remember what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What happened to the people there could happen to any of us. Listen to their words, not as Japanese, and not as Americans, but as people.

Ari M. Beser is the grandson of Lt. Jacob Beser, the only U.S. serviceman aboard both B-29s that dropped atomic bombs on Japan in World War II. He traveled through Japan with the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship to report on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. Beser’s  storytelling gives voice to people directly affected by nuclear technology today, as he works with Japanese and Americans to encourage a message of reconciliation and nuclear disarmament. His new book, The Nuclear Family, focuses on American and Japanese perspectives of the atomic bombings.


August 7, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment