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Abe snubs head of Nobel-winning no-nukes group

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Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and Akira Kawasaki, a member of the group’s international steering committee, place a wreath at the Cenotaph for A-bomb Victims in Hiroshima on Monday.
HIROSHIMA – The leader of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, has been denied a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the nongovernmental organization Peace Boat said Monday.
ICAN has asked the Japanese government twice since late December to arrange a meeting between Abe and Executive Director Beatrice Fihn during her visit to Japan, but the Foreign Ministry declined the requests, citing scheduling conflicts, according to Peace Boat, a major steering group member of the Geneva-based organization.
 
Expressing disappointment over failing to meet Abe on her first visit to Japan, Fihn said in Hiroshima that she wanted to talk with him about how the world can avoid devastation of the type inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Fihn said she hopes to meet with the prime minister at the next opportunity.
Atomic-bomb survivors also expressed disappointment.
“Does Prime Minister Abe understand the significance of ICAN winning the Noble Peace Prize? It is very regrettable to feel this difference of attitudes between the government and atomic-bomb survivors,” said Hiroko Kishida, a 77-year-old hibakusha in Hiroshima.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo that ICAN’s requests were declined “due to a conflict of schedule. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Fihn arrived in Japan on Friday. After visiting Nagasaki through Sunday, she moved on to Hiroshima and was scheduled to hold discussions with Diet members in Tokyo on Tuesday before leaving Japan on Thursday.
Abe departed Japan on Friday for a six-nation European tour and is scheduled to return home Wednesday.
ICAN, founded in 2007, is a coalition of NGOs that involves about 470 groups from more than 100 countries.
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January 16, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Survivor Studies: Discrepancies Between Results and General Perception

Chris Busby published an answering to this paper. As soon as I am getting it, I will add it here below this paper.

By Bertrand R. Jordan – Unité Mixte de Recherche 7268 ADÉS, Aix-Marseille Université/Etablissement Français du Sang/Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Espace éthique méditerranéen, Hôpital d’Adultes la Timone, 13385 Marseille Cedex 05, France

ABSTRACT The explosion of atom bombs over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 resulted in very high casualties, both immediate and delayed but also left a large number of survivors who had been exposed to radiation, at levels that could be fairly precisely ascertained. Extensive follow-up of a large cohort of survivors (120,000) and of their offspring (77,000) was initiated in 1947 and continues to this day. In essence, survivors having received 1 Gy irradiation ( 1000 mSV) have a significantly elevated rate of cancer (42% increase) but a limited decrease of longevity ( 1 year), while their offspring show no increased frequency of abnormalities and, so far, no detectable elevation of the mutation rate. Current acceptable exposure levels for the general population and for workers in the nuclear industry have largely been derived from these studies, which have been reported in more than 100 publications. Yet the general public, and indeed most scientists, are unaware of these data: it is widely believed that irradiated survivors suffered a very high cancer burden and dramatically shortened life span, and that their progeny were affected by elevated mutation rates and frequent abnormalities. In this article, I summarize the results and discuss possible reasons for this very striking discrepancy between the facts and general beliefs about this situation.

THE first (and only) two A-bombs used in war were deto-nated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945. Casualties were horrendous, approximately 100,000 in each city including deaths in the following days from severe burns and radiation. Although massive bombing of cities had already taken place with similar death tolls (e.g., Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo, the latter with 100,000 casualties on March 9, 1945), the devastation caused by a single bomb was unheard of and remains one of the most horrifying events in the past century. The people who had survived the explosions were soon designated as Hibakusha and were severely discrim-inated against in Japanese society, as (supposedly) carriers of (contagious?) radiation diseases and potential begetters of malformed offspring. While not reaching such extremes, the dominant present-day image of the aftermath of the Hiroshima/ Nagasaki bombings, in line with the general perception of radiation risk (Ropeik 2013; Perko 2014), is that it left the sites heavily contaminated, that the survivors suffered very serious health consequences, notably a very high rate of cancer and other debilitating diseases, and that offspring from these sur-vivors had a highly increased rate of genetic defects. In fact, the survivors have been the object of massive and careful long-term studies whose results to date do not support these conceptions and indicate, instead, measurable but limited det-rimental health effects in survivors, and no detectable genetic effects in their offspring. This Perspectives article does not provide any new data; rather, its aim is to summarize the results of the studies undertaken to date, which have been published in more than 100 papers (most of them in interna-tional journals), and to discuss why they seem to have had so little impact beyond specialized circles.

Bombings and Implementation of Cohort Studies

Characteristics of the bombs and the explosions

 

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Figure 1 Number of solid cancers ob-served up to 1998 in the exposed group; the white portion indicates the excess cases associated with radiation (compar-ison with the unexposed group). Data are from Preston et al. (2007).

The device used at Hiroshima was based on enriched uranium and exploded at an altitude of 600 m with an estimated yield equivalent to 16 kilotons of high explosive. The bomb at Nagasaki was based on plutonium and exploded at 500 m with a yield of 21 kilotons. The major effect of both bombs was an extreme heat and pressure blast accompanied by a strong burst of gamma radiation and a more limited burst of neutrons. The heat blast set the (mostly wooden) buildings on fire in a radius of several kilometers and resulted in an extensive fire-storm centered on the explosion site (also called the hypocen-ter). People were exposed to the combined heat and radiation blasts, with little shielding from the buildings; most of those located within 1.5 km of the hypocenter were killed. The contribution of fallout from these explosions, which occurred mostly as “black rain” in the following days, is not precisely known: few measurements were taken due to scarcity of equipment, and investigations in the first months were per-formed by the US army and subsequently classified. It was probably limited: the bombs exploded at a significant altitude, the resulting firestorm carried the fission products into the high atmosphere, and the eventual fallout was spread over a large area. In addition, a strong typhoon occurred 2 weeks after the bombings and may have washed out much of the materiel. The major health effects (other than the heat blast and accompanying destruction) were almost certainly due to the gamma and neutron radiation from the blasts themselves, and these doses can be quite reliably estimated from the dis-tance to the hypocenter. Thus studies on the survivors can ascertain the health effects of a single, fairly well-defined dose of gamma radiation with a small component from neutrons.

The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation

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November 4, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , , , | 6 Comments

A-bomb survivor calls for nuclear arms ban

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A survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima has called for the creation of a new global treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

Toshiki Fujimori spoke in New York on Sunday at a meeting of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The NGO group held the meeting ahead of the start of UN negotiations on a legally binding international nuclear ban treaty.

Fujimori experienced the bombing when he was 16 months old. He is scheduled to speak on the first day of the UN negotiations.

Fujimori expressed hope for the talks, which he referred to as an attempt to draw up a treaty that has yet to arrive due to strong pressure from nuclear powers.

He said the voices of atomic bomb survivors and their numerous supporters have spurred momentum to ban the weapons. He said such voices remind the world of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons, which cause indiscriminate mass destruction of human life and inflict radiation on survivors.

He stressed that while their exposure problems are at different stages, each of the 170,000 survivors still alive in Japan has a cross to bear until death.

He urged people to listen to the cries of survivors and move a step forward toward achieving a world free of nuclear weapons

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170327_09/

March 28, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | 1 Comment

UN Oks Nuclear Arms Ban Resolution, Japan in Complete Denial of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings Opposed it

Finally, 71 years after the dropping of atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the international community is ready to start negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons. Although this is a historical moment, it was very sad that Japan and the US opposed the UN resolution.


UN committee OKs nuclear arms ban resolution

A UN General Assembly committee has approved a resolution calling for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
Japan, the only country that has suffered atomic bombings, was among the countries that opposed it, along with nuclear powers including the United States.
The resolution was adopted on Thursday by a majority vote at the General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament.
The resolution submitted by about 50 non-nuclear weapons states calls for starting negotiations on a legally binding treaty in New York in March.
123 countries voted in favor, while 38 voted against. 16 countries abstained.
Among the nuclear powers, the United States and Russia opposed it. China and India abstained.
Japan voted against it. The country has been calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, while under the US nuclear umbrella. But it said disarmament should be done in stages with the cooperation of nuclear and non-nuclear states.
Austrian disarmament ambassador Franz Josef Kuglitsch called the resolution the fruit of years of huge effort and conscience-building by many countries and civil society. Austria is one of the proponents of the resolution.
If adopted at a General Assembly session in December, treaty negotiations will start in March.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161028_12/

U.S., Japan oppose and China abstains as U.N. votes to launch talks on nuclear arms ban

UNITED NATIONS – A U.N. General Assembly committee on Thursday voted to launch negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons despite fierce opposition from the world’s nuclear powers.

A resolution presented by Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and Brazil was adopted by a vote of 123 to 38, with 16 abstentions, following weeks of lobbying by the nuclear powers for “no” votes.

The nonbinding resolution provides for negotiations to begin in March on the new treaty, citing deep concern over the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.”

Four of the five U.N. Security Council nuclear powers — Britain, France, Russia and the United States — voted against the resolution, while China abstained, as did India and Pakistan.

Japan, which has long campaigned against the use of nuclear weapons, voted against it, as did South Korea, which is facing a nuclear threat from North Korea.

Opponents argued that nuclear disarmament should be addressed within negotiations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, described the vote as a “historic moment” in the decades-long drive for a nuclear-free world.

This treaty won’t eliminate nuclear weapons overnight. But it will establish a powerful, new international legal standard, stigmatizing nuclear weapons and compelling nations to take urgent action on disarmament.”

The measure is expected to go to the full General Assembly for a vote in late November or early December.

Although Japan voted against the resolution due to pressure exerted by the U.S., Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that Japan intends to join U.N. negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons.

At present, I hope to proactively join in the negotiations and firmly present our stance,” which stresses cooperation between nuclear and nonnuclear powers, Kishida told reporters, adding that the government as a whole will make the final decision.

Kishida said Japan opposed the draft resolution as it did not match the country’s stance to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons by “concrete and pragmatic measures” amid the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and the need for nuclear deterrence.

The resolution further deepens the rift and encourages opposition” between countries possessing nuclear weapons and those that do not, Kishida said.

Japan also took note of the votes by other key countries in making the decision, Kishida said. All of the countries possessing nuclear weapons, including the United States, opposed the draft resolution, while North Korea voted in favor.

The resolution calls for talks to be held twice next year — the first round from March 27 to 31 and the second from June 15 through July 7 in New York — to negotiate a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

Despite the U.S. and other nuclear powers’ objection to the motion, Robert Zuber, director of Global Action to Prevent War, a nongovernmental organization, is upbeat about its prospects.

We believe that a ban treaty could help contribute to a robust international framework to which the nuclear weapon states could eventually accede,” he said.

But the decision by Japan, the only country to have ever suffered a nuclear attack, to vote against the draft disappointed some anti-nuclear campaigners.

The government is “still captured by a very old-fashioned idea on security. They still believe nuclear weapons are necessary for their own security. However, it is already clear that it is nuclear weapons that are posing a threat to global security and survival of human kind, as testified by many survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” said Akira Kawasaki, director of Peace Boat Hibakusha Project.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/28/world/politics-diplomacy-world/u-s-japan-oppose-china-abstains-u-n-votes-launch-talks-nuclear-arms-ban/

UN votes to start negotiating treaty to ban nuclear weapons

Australia votes with major nuclear powers against the resolution – including US, Russia and Israel – but 123 nations vote in favour

United Nations member states have voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations and their allies.

In the vote in the UN disarmament and international security committee on Thursday, 123 nations were in favour of the resolution, 38 opposed and 16 abstained.

Nuclear powers the United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among those that opposed the measure.

Australia, as forecast last week, and as a long-time dependant on the US’s extended nuclear deterrence, also voted no.

The resolution now goes to a full general assembly vote some time in December.

The resolution aims to hold a conference in March 2017 to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Support for a ban treaty has been growing steadily over months of negotiations, but it has no support from the nine known nuclear states – the US, China, France, Britain, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – which includes the veto-wielding permanent five members of the security council.

But Australia has been the most outspoken of the non-nuclear states.

During months of negotiations, Australia has lobbied other countries, pressing the case for what it describes as a “building blocks” approach of engaging with nuclear powers to reduce the global stockpile of 15,000 weapons.

Australia has consistently maintained that as long as nuclear weapons exist, it must rely on the protection of the deterrent effect of the US’s nuclear arsenal, the second largest in the world.

When he appeared before Senate estimates last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s assistant secretary, Richard Sadleir, forecast Australia’s rejection of the vote: “Consistent with the position to that we took to the open-ended working group (into nuclear disarmament) report, we will be voting no with respect to that resolution.”

Sadleir said Australia’s position on nuclear disarmament was “consistent and clear”.

We do not support a ban treaty,” he said. “A ban treaty that does not include the nuclear weapons states, those states which possess nuclear weapons, and is disconnected from the rest of the security environment, would be counterproductive and not lead to reductions in nuclear arsenals.”

Professor Tilman Ruff, founding chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said the vote was a “historic step” for the world that “heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament”.

The numbers are especially encouraging given the ferocious pressure on countries to vote no by the nuclear-armed states, who see that this will fundamentally challenge their continued possession of nuclear weapons,” he said.

The treaty will fill the legal gap by which the most destructive of all weapons – nuclear weapons – are the only weapon of mass destruction to not yet be outlawed by international treaty.”

Ruff said Australia should reverse its opposition “and get on the right side of humanity”.

Australia is doing dirty work for Washington, and is willing for US nuclear weapons to be used on its behalf, and potentially with its assistance,” he said.

It is inconceivable that Australia would not eventually sign up to a treaty prohibiting the last to be banned and worst [weapons of mass destruction]. We’ve signed every other treaty banning an unacceptable weapon, and on some, like chemical weapons, we were a leader.”

Ruff said that given there were no nuclear disarmament negotiations under way or planned, a ban treaty was the only feasible path towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons available now.

The efficacy of a ban treaty is a matter of fierce debate.

Without the participation of the states that actually possess nuclear weapons, critics argue it cannot succeed. But proponents say a nuclear weapons ban will create moral suasion – in the vein of the cluster and landmine conventions – for nuclear weapons states to disarm, and establish an international norm prohibiting nuclear weapons’ development, possession and use.

Non-nuclear states have expressed increasing frustration with the current nuclear regime and the sclerotic movement towards disarmament.

With nuclear weapons states modernising and in some cases increasing their arsenals, instead of discarding them, more states are becoming disenchanted with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and lending their support for an outright ban.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/28/un-votes-to-start-negotiating-treaty-to-ban-nuclear-weapons

 

October 29, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Japan? The racism of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings

“Were he alive today, Dr. King would still be using the ‘unarmed truth’ to warn that we stand at the very precipice of the hell of thermonuclear self-immolation … We must transform the world power struggle from the nuclear arms race to a creative contest to harness man’s genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all.”

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How the US saw the Japanese people in 1942

As we remember the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this month 71 years ago, we have largely forgotten the racist propaganda that made it possible, writes LINDA PENZ GUNTER. We have likewise sanitised history to exclude the voices of African Americans who loudly protested the use of nuclear weapons, connecting them to American colonialism abroad and racism at home.

This month 71 years ago, the US cropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on August 6 and 9 respectively.

‘Racism’ is probably not the first word that springs to mind as we reflect on these terrible events, and their immediate and ongoign aftermath.

But according to a fascinating book by Vincent J. Intondi, published last year and entitled African Americans Against the Bomb, it was the recognition of those bombings as an act of racism that drew African Americans into the nuclear disarmament movement and future wars that kept them there.

As Intondi explains in his introduction, “Black activists’ fear that race played a role in the decision to use atomic bombs only increased when the United States threatened to use nuclear weapons in Korea in the 1950s and in Vietnam a decade later.”

This singling out of non-white enemies for the use or threat of atomic weapons drew African Americans not only into the nuclear abolition movement, Intondi contends, but into a form of social activism that connected many issues of civil and human rights on a global, rather than national scale.

The black anti-nuclear campaign: airbrushed out of history

“Since 1945, black activists had made the case that nuclear weapons, colonialism, and the black freedom struggle were connected”, writes Intondi.

African Americans recognized colonialism “From the United States’ obtaining uranium from the Belgian-controlled Congo to France’s testing a nuclear weapon in the Sahara”, Intondi writes. It was the use and continued testing of the atomic bomb, “that motivated many in the black community to continue to fight for peace and equality as part of a global struggle for human rights.”

Those who joined the struggle against nuclear weapons included Martin Luther King, Jr., of course, but also W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson and many others. Yet it is rarely their faces that are evoked when there is discussion of the Ban the Bomb marches or, later, the rise of SANE/Freeze.

Perhaps no one better embodied that clear understanding of the link between the struggle for peace and justice and the arms race than Bayard Rustin, posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 by President Obama.

Yet despite Rustin’s outspoken role for peace and disarmament, the word ‘nuclear’ never appears in his Wikipedia biography. Rustin’s leadership in the anti-nuclear movement, like that of many of his fellow African Americans, has vanished from the history books. But not from Intondi’s.

Dehumanising an entire people

The debate about whether the US was justified in dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki persists today. The most widely accepted – but ferociously challenged – argument in favor is that it was necessary to force the surrender of Japan and thus end World War II.

But the underpinnings of racism are glaringly obvious. Intondi quotes poet Langston Hughes asking the question voiced by many others; why did the United States not drop the atomic bomb on Germany or Italy?

The answer can be found in the appalling and vitriolic anti-Japanese sentiment Intondi cites, whipped up to dehumanize an entire population. This includes the illustrious Time magazine which declared that “The ordinary unreasoning Jap is ignorant. Perhaps he is human. Nothing … indicates it.”

Clearly, these were slurs with which the African American community were all too familiar. It enabled them to empathize with the innocent victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and, more broadly, with those around the world oppressed by colonialism.

Consequently, according to Intondi, the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan was viewed through a very different lens by the African American community than by white America. Du Bois recognized immediately what the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagaski would be. It would lead, he warned, to a corporate conspiracy of profiteering that would impact the working people of the US the most severely.

“Big business wants war to keep your mind off social reform”, Intondi quotes Du Bois as saying at a 1950 Harlem press conference. “It would rather spend your taxes for atom bombs than for schools because in this way it makes more money.”

All we are saying, is give peace a chance

Today, the US is still spending far more on atomic weapons than schools. The Obama administration announced a $1 trillion spending plan over the next 30 years to “upgrade and refurbish” nuclear weapons. (Recently, an Obama spokesman hinted that the president may seek to considerably reduce that bill before leaving office.)

But the voices of African Americans like Robeson, Du Bois, Dorothy Height, Dick Gregory and others are no longer leading the nuclear disarmament movement. Today’s nuclear abolition crowd is largely white, progressive and almost entirely grey-haired.

Why did they disappear? Many African Americans in the anti-nuclear movement of the 1950s and ’60s were firmly on the Left, some members of, or fellow travelers with, the Communist Party. The McCarthy witch hunts and general Red baiting, forced a retreat on all fronts, including among some African Americans, Intondi suggests.

Some hung on for a while. Twenty years after King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, at an August 1983 anniversary march, the official platform still proclaimed the importance of nuclear disarmament, as Intondi quotes in his book:

“Were he alive today, Dr. King would still be using the ‘unarmed truth’ to warn that we stand at the very precipice of the hell of thermonuclear self-immolation … We must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the nuclear arms race to a creative contest to harness man’s genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all … We call upon the American public to turn the arms race into a ‘peace race’ utilizing the existent and evolving movements in the United States as its foundations.”

Black lives matter!

But the peace was never run. Prosperity did not come for many, especially in the African American community. Anti-nuclear activism did finally persuade President Reagan to change course, but nuclear weapons were not abolished in the US or in any country that already possessed them. Others like Israel, India and Pakistan, developed them.

The notion that nuclear weapons were ‘necessary’, or a ‘deterrent’, despite the protests and all evidence to the contrary, held sway then and continues to do so today.

Many others have abandoned the cause as well. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are now 71 years in the past, and even though we face the ever-present threat of instant annihilation by the accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons, the sense and understanding of this persistent threat has subsided.

For the African American community, priorities changed. Although segregation came off the statute books, it persisted. Opportunities for African Americans grew, but not enough, and for too few. Huge swaths of the population continued to languish in ghettoized neglect. There were periodic explosions – the riots of Watts, Newark, Washington – but not enough action to bring the community fully out of poverty and discrimination.

A fundamental grasp of the depths of racism by the non-black community in the US was never achieved. This led to the misunderstanding of meaning and intent behind the Black Lives Matter movement, the absence of that tiny word ‘also’ leading to criticism, amendment and even hostility.

Recognising the contribution of African Americans

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a decision that could be made because the US government and its propaganda team seared into the collective American psyche the idea that the Japanese people were, as US General Joseph Stilwell said at the time and most vilely, “bowlegged cockroaches”. The US press, as we have seen from the Time quote, were right behind him.

Then the photos began to emerge – of burned children with their skin hanging off; of bodies charred or even vaporized; of the agonizing deaths from radiation sickness. And there was Sadaki Sasaki and the 1,000 origami peace cranes she folded before her death at 12 from leukemia ten years after the bomb was dropped on her hometown of Hiroshima.

Those images galvanized a movement. But they also evoked recognition and empathy among thousands of African Americans who saw the racism for what it was and provided the motivation for their substantial but largely unheralded contribution to the nuclear abolition movement.

http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2988010/why_japan_the_racism_of_the_hiroshima_and_nagasaki_bombings.html


 

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear, a Takoma Park, MD environmental advocacy group.

http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2988010/why_japan_the_racism_of_the_hiroshima_and_nagasaki_bombings.html

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

Interview with professor Robert Jacobs: Must say no to a war more

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by Uzaemonnaotsuka Toukai, Editorial Writer

People in Hiroshima, which marked the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombing, have still evaluated the visit by U.S. President Barack Obama highly. Meanwhile, there is still a long way to go to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons in international society. The Chugoku Shimbun interviewed Robert Jacobs, 56, a professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University, about how we can fill the gap between real politics and the desire of people in the A-bombed cities. Mr. Jacobs has been living in Hiroshima for 11 years, and is familiar with American public opinion and pop culture concerning nuclear issues.

I have heard your own experiences as a child is the point of origin that has driven you to continue your research activity in the A-bombed Hiroshima.
When I was an elementary school student in Chicago, U.S., I went through a training similar to “Duck and Cover” every month. In the training, I practiced what to do when a nuclear weapon exploded. After my teacher told the students that a tremendous flash happened, we ducked on the floor all at once. I was scared, because I thought I was going to die soon. From 1950s to 1960s, conducting such a training was quite popular at schools in the U.S. As I couldn’t stop thinking about horrors of nuclear war, I read a lot of books on nuclear weapons. Then, I took part in the antinuclear movement in my teens, and I developed a strong belief that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. So, I think it was inevitable for me to come to Hiroshima.

What is your main research theme at the Hiroshima Peace Institute?
I have been studying how horrible results have been wrought by the development and testing of nuclear weapons, and how American and world culture and society have been affected by them. In addition, through a project titled “Global Hibakusha Project,” I have been investigating an initiative to connect the nuclear victims throughout the world. In the project, young people in Republic of the Marshall Islands, a nation which was involved in a U.S. hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll, and several other countries have been developed as memory keepers. They have also been interacting with the youth in Hiroshima via Skype, an internet video and also in person workshops.

As an American, what did you think about President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima?
It was a historic event. The U.S. media also reported it very positively. However, from my perspective, I am disappointed that he didn’t mention anything about a concrete path towards the abolition of nuclear weapons, including how American nuclear policy would be changed.

You mean a world without nuclear weapons cannot be realized soon.
Hiroshima has two significances to the U.S. While Hiroshima is known as a tragic city in the U.S. because of the atomic bombing, the U.S. used Hiroshima as an excuse to increase its nuclear arsenal during a cold war era. In those days, the U.S. government aroused its citizens’ sense of fear that the U.S. must have much more nuclear weapons than the former Soviet Union to not end up being like “Hiroshima.” Now, against a backdrop of a threat by the militant group known as the Islamic State, the nuclear weapons have gained prominent attention again. It could be a shocking fact to people in the A-bombed cities, but it’s still strongly believed in the U.S. that the nuclear weapons are necessary because of the tragedy, which occurred in Hiroshima.

Even if President Obama visited Hiroshima, the public opinion in the U.S. hasn’t been changed so much, has it?
In Japan, some people say that President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima has advanced a movement towards nuclear abolition. But I am afraid they may be too optimistic. Many Americans still believe they should maintain the option to keep nuclear weapons though they do also want to abolish them. It’s the same logic as the one for gun ownership: many U.S. households have a gun because they believe it might be necessary sometime in the future, although not everyone wants to use it.

If things are not changed, do you think a desire of people in Hiroshima to abolish nuclear weapons won’t take root in the nuclear nations?
You have to be more aware that a barrier to nuclear abolition, which the A-bombed cities should take focus on, is quite enormous. Even if a U.S. president advocates abolition of nuclear weapons, the real politics and military system won’t change so easily. The bottleneck is a giant military industry that has the power to influence the world of politics, and public opinion believing in nuclear deterrent force. I think just appealing for the inhumanity of nuclear weapons is not enough to fight against them.

Could you elaborate on it more?
I believe you should rather make an appeal based on the extensive moral framework of the whole society. As the living standard of the middle-class has declined in the U.S., more and more people have become pessimistic about their future. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is planning to spend a trillion dollars (about 100 trillion yen) for upgrading nuclear weapons over the next three decades. Is it acceptable to sacrifice living standard of people for such spending? Shouldn’t education and medical services be more prioritized than military affairs? Taking these perspectives into account, it’s important to appeal to international opinion opposing wars and military powers. If people in the A-bombed cities can collaborate with those working on these issues in the world, I believe you can generate a much bigger wave than now.

Profile

Robert Jacobs
Born in Chicago, the United States, Mr. Jacobs obtained a doctor’s degree at the University of Illinois, and came to Hiroshima in 2005 to serve as an instructor for the Hiroshima Peace Research Institute. He assumed his current post from this year. Studying history as his major, he has been researching the history and culture of nuclear technologies and nuclear victims. He has written books including “The Dragon’s Tail: Americans Face the Atomic Age.”

(Originally published on August 8, 2016)

http://www.hiroshimapeacemedia.jp/?p=63666

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

How US Hiroshima Mythology Insults Veterans

The government’s official pretexts for incinerating Hiroshima and Nagasaki still dominate public opinion. In 2005, a Gallop poll reported that 57 percent of people surveyed in the US believed the bombings were justified and legitimate. The myth retains its usefulness. President Obama’s proposed 30-year, trillion-dollar program to rebuild the nuclear weapons production establishment can only go ahead if taxpayers hold fast to the idea that something good can come from the mass destruction of civilians.

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The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”

Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, WWII Air Force Commander of the 21st Bomber Command, Sept. 20, 1945.

With President Obama’s May 27 visit to Hiroshima, reporters, columnists and editors generally adhered to the official story that “the atomic bomb…ultimately spared more Japanese civilians from a final invasion,” as Kaimay Yuen Terry wrote for the Minneapolis StarTribune, or that, “Without it, more Japanese would have died in a US assault on the islands, as would have tens of thousands of Americans,” as Mike Hashimoto wrote for the Dallas Morning News.

The dropping of the bombs stopped the war, saved millions of lives,” Harry Truman wrote in his memoir Truman Speaks. Oddly, historians have found no record of any memo, cable, command projection or study, military or civilian, where this estimate was suggested to him. In his book The Invasion of Japan, historian John Ray Skates says, “… prophecies of extremely high casualties only came to be widely accepted after the war to rationalize the use of the atomic bombs.” And historian Martin J. Sherwin has “cited a ‘considerable body’ of new evidence that suggested the bomb may have cost, rather than saved, American lives. That is, if the US had not been so determined to complete, test, and finally use the bomb, it might have arranged the Japanese surrender weeks earlier, preventing much bloodshed on Okinawa.”

Obama — uttering not a word about the historical controversy roiling since 1945 — perpetuated the rationalization, cover-up, and nostalgia that guarantees the US will never apologize for the needless and experimental massacre of 200,000 Japanese civilians. As Hashimoto wrote, “No apology [is] needed for sparing lives on both sides…”

The New York Times reported vaguely that, “Many historians believe the bombings on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki, which together took the lives of more than 200,000 people, saved lives on balance, since an invasion of the islands would have led to far greater bloodshed.”

While “many” historians may still believe this, the majority do not. As noted by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chief historian J. Samuel Walker: “The consensus among scholars is that the bomb was not needed to avoid an invasion of Japan and to end the war within a relatively short time. It is clear that alternatives to the bomb existed and that Truman and his advisers knew it,” Walker wrote in the winter 1990 issue of Diplomatic History.

Five years earlier, historian Gar Alperovitz wrote in Atomic Diplomacy, “[P]resently available evidence shows the atomic bomb was not needed to end the war or to save lives — and that this was understood by American leaders at the time.” Further declassification made his lengthy history, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of An American Myth (Knopf, 1995) even stronger on this point.

Admirals and Generals Debunk the Myth

Contrary to Gov. Sarah Palin’s claim that Obama’s visit to Hiroshima “insults veterans,” the fiction that the atomic bombs ended the war is the real insult to the people who actually fought and won the war against Japan. The official myth that incinerating Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced Japan’s surrender ignores and obscures the fact that combat veterans and bomber crews defeated Japan well before August 6, 1945 — by sacrificing so mightily in dangerous bombing raids and in bloody battles for Midway, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and elsewhere. Dozens of high-level military officers have testified to this fact.

Most of the ranking officers who directed the war in the Pacific have never agreed that the atom bombs were conclusive. Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, Commander of the 21st Bomber Command, speaking publicly and for the record Sept. 20, 1945, said unequivocally: “The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb.” Pressed by a reporter who asked, “Had they not surrendered because of the atomic bomb?” Gen. LeMay — who directed the destruction of 67 major Japanese cities using mass incendiary attacks — said flatly, “The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”

Likewise, Gen. George Kenny, who commanded parts of the Army Air Forces in the Pacific, when asked in 1969 whether it was wise to use atom bombs, said, “No! I think we had the Japs licked anyhow. I think they would have quit probably within a week or so of when they did quit,” Alperovitz recounts in The Decision.

Alperovitz’s research found that Adm. Lewis Strauss, special assistant to WW II Navy Secretary James Forrestal, wrote to the naval historian Robert Albion Dec. 19, 1960 “from the Navy’s point of view, there are statements by Admiral King, Admiral Halsey, Admiral Radford, Admiral Nimitz and others who expressed themselves to the effect that neither the atomic bomb nor the proposed invasion of the Japanese mainland were necessary to produce the surrender.”

In Mandate for Change, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower wrote that when Secretary of War Henry Stimson told him atomic bombs were going to be used, “I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary…”

President Truman’s Chief of Staff, Adm. William Leahy, adamantly agreed. As Robert Lifton and Greg Mitchell, report in Hiroshima in America: 50 Years of Denial, Leahy said, “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons….” Lifton and Mitchell also note that Henry “Hap” Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Forces, said in his memoirs, “It always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.”

Answers to questions about the need of the atomic bombings were given early on, but some were kept secret. “[T]he US Strategic Bombing Survey published its conclusion that Japan would likely have surrendered in 1945 without atomic bombing, without a Soviet declaration of war, and without an American invasion,” Alperovitz reports in The Decision. The historian spent 30 years studying the issue and has revealed that a 1946 study by the Intelligence Group of the War Department’s Military Intelligence Division — discovered in 1989 — “concluded the atomic bomb had not been needed to end the war” and “judged that it was ‘almost a certainty that the Japanese would have capitulated upon the entry of Russia into the war.’”

The government’s official pretexts for incinerating Hiroshima and Nagasaki still dominate public opinion. In 2005, a Gallop poll reported that 57 percent of people surveyed in the US believed the bombings were justified and legitimate. The myth retains its usefulness. President Obama’s proposed 30-year, trillion-dollar program to rebuild the nuclear weapons production establishment can only go ahead if taxpayers hold fast to the idea that something good can come from the mass destruction of civilians.

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/09/how-us-hiroshima-mythology-insults-veterans/

August 14, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a third nuclear atrocity: the corruption of science

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From August 6, 2015

Following the atomic bombs exploded over Japan in 1945 a second crime against humanity took place, writes Chris Busby: the deliberate falsification of science to hide the dangers of ionising radiation, perpetrated to quell public opposition to a new age of nuclear bombs and energy. The fraud continues to this day, but finally the truth is winning out.

On the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, articles are appearing everywhere discussing the historical, philosophical, scientific, public health and social meaning of this event (I almost wrote ‘war crime’).

The bombings can be extrapolated onward in time through the atmospheric testing fallout and Chernobyl, to the more recent contamination in Japan after Fukushima.

Today, the analysis of the health risks from the Japanese A-Bombs is being cleverly twisted to provide a rationale for the development of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not just some historical tableaux that we can weep crocodile tears over, and discuss as socio-historic phenomena.

They are here today, present as ghosts, in all the manipulations and devious calculations made by the international radiation risk agencies and nuclear-industry scientists giving results that continue to permit the release into the environment of the same deadly substances that emerged for the first time in 1945.

Abusing Hiroshima to deny nuclear bomb health damage

I am currently presenting a case for the British Atomic Test veterans in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The case pivots on the faulty radiation and health risk model that is based on the Lifespan Study of the Japanese A-Bomb survivors.

This model, of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), is used by the Ministry of Defense in the courts to deny responsibility for the cancers in the Nuclear Test Veterans and the congenital disease in their children and grandchildren.

However, the Hiroshima model also predicts that those exposed to radiation and fallout from future nuclear ‘exchanges’ would suffer little downstream genetic damage. Thus the Doctors Strangelove and the generals can argue that a nuclear war is winnable and that the increases in cancer and genetic effects in those exposed to Depleted Uranium (DU) in Iraq somehow don’t exist.

The bogus analysis of the health outcomes from Hiroshima has left the world with a major public health problem. In an effort to refute the mounting evidence, the ICRP model was relaunched by The Lancet to coincide with the Hiroshima anniversary.

A whole issue is given over to the presentation of wacko accounts of the health consequences of Hiroshima, Chernobyl and Fukushima through articles (at least partly) written by those who hold the reins of the ICRP chariot. The key issue is accurately described at the start:

“The linkages between Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima are thus more than just symbolic, having shaped current health management practices, and the institutions that run them, as well as public responses to these events.”

However, these current health management practices are wildly in error.

Nuclear war

Everyone has seen the photos of Hiroshima. The primitive Uranium-235 bomb ‘Little Boy’ that fell on Hiroshima with an explosive power of 13 kilotons (13,000 tons of TNT, the conventional chemical explosive) flattened the city and killed some 80,000 people of which 45,000 died on the first day.

Within four months the death toll was about 140,000. Three days after Hiroshima, a 20kT Plutonium bomb ‘Fat Man’ was dropped on Nagasaki (Why? Did the US think perhaps the Hiroshima bomb might have been overlooked?). Both weapons were mostly made of Uranium.

Note that. Since then, from 1950, a study of the survivors by the US funded Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission ABCC (and later the Radiation Effects Research Foundation) has defined the relationship between radiation dose and cancer.

In passing, recall that the explosive power was 13 kilotons. Anyone who wants nightmares should buy the standard work:The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, by Samuel Glasstone, the physical chemist. The more recent versions of this book have a nifty little plastic calculator in the back where you may, by rotating the bezel, inform yourself of the radii of blast, radiation dose, building destruction etc. for any size of bomb.

The US has spent lots of money and time blowing up stuff in the Nevada and Pacific test sites to obtain these data. Modern thermonuclear warheads, of which there are currently some 15,000, pack about 800kT. Just one of these jobs would put paid to most of New York, Tehran or Jerusalem.

I visualize some poor civil defense chief sitting in a shelter somewhere desperately twisting the scales on this pretty ‘Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer’ (developed by the Lovelace Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico) whilst waiting for the ground to disappear.

Nuclear war is not longer unthinkable

The problem we have in the world in 2015 is that the economic system and power relations between countries encourages those taking big decisions to think in terms of geopolitical strategies that include the use of nuclear weapons.

There are potential resource wars; there are food-production issues following changes in global weather patterns, there are technological developments in what were historically manipulatable countries. Nuclear weapons are now in the hands of nine nations including three which are not party to the non-proliferation treaty (and why should they be?): India, Pakistan and North Korea.

Negotiations with Iran are currently argued to be “of tremendous importance” in a region where Israel has the nuclear potential to wipe out all the local Arab states at a sitting. The Russians have massive nuclear capability and are being baited on their borders in Ukraine by NATO and those who control NATO.

This shit-stirring now has moved to the Baltic States. I live in Latvia, and this Spring I saw a new tank with a Latvian flag rolling though the center of Ropazi, a small town 40km west of Riga near where I live. Every day, the sky overhead had big helicopters and transport aircraft, donated to the Latvians by the US. Why?

The Baltic States and Poland are conscripting armies to defend the motherland against invasion by the Russians. What’s going on? Those who sow the wind reap the whirlwind, my grandmother would say. Let us hope not.

A systematic cover-up of nuclear dangers

In all the high level strategic thinking that is associated with this nuclear warmongering, the post attack population death yields from fallout are computed according to the ICRP risk model. But that Hiroshima model is a chimeric construction, built in the Cold War to back up the atmospheric testing.

The observable effects (increases in infant mortality, the 1980s cancer epidemic) were covered up following a 1959 agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization, which left the IAEA, the nuclear physicists, the bomb makers, the deniers of Chernobyl and Fukushima effects, in charge of the research into health.

And so it remains today with The Lancet article ‘Long-term effects of radiation exposure on health‘, co-written by particle physicist Richard Wakeford, ex-head of research of British Nuclear Fuels at Sellafield, nuclear industry representative on the UK CERRIE committee, member of the ICRP, adviser to the Japanese on Fukushima, and so forth.

The evidence from real studies of the offspring of the test veterans, and the soldiers and civilians exposed to Depleted Uranium, is that a nuclear war will be the end of life on earth as we know it.

The test veterans have a 10-fold excess risk of children with birth defects, 9-fold in the grandchildren. Although millions will be blasted away, the real outcome will be global sterility, cancer and malformation. All the Mad Max stuff but worse: Hollywood got it right.

Evidence and errors in the Hiroshima lifespan studies

If you find that there is a doubling of breast cancer or child leukemia in those living downwind of a nuclear power station, at an ‘estimated dose’ less than external background, the ICRP model tells you that the effect cannot be due to the releases from the power station because the dose is too low.

The epidemiologist Martin Tondel found in 2004 that there was a significant excess cancer risk in Northern Sweden after Chernobyl. He was told to shut up because what he found was impossible: In other words, the dose was too low.

The same in Belarus and Ukraine where my colleague Alexey Yablokov has collected together an enormous compilation of peer reviewed evidence of appalling effects. Most recently we see the Hiroshima-based denials in the case of thyroid cancer in Fukushima prefecture (see below).

The study groups for the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) probe were assembled in 1950. Thus there were five years in which those who were badly affected by the radiation could die. The study was of a “healthy survivor” group, something which the late Dr Alice Stewart demonstrated.

But that is not the worst accusation. There were roughly 109,000 individuals recruited, including six dose groups from 0 to 200 rad (0-2+ Gy) and two Not in City (NIC) groups, the 4,607 Early Entrants (NIC-EE) and 21,915 Late Entrants (NIC-LE).

These NIC groups should have been the controls, but they were not. If you look at the reports you find they were abandoned as being ‘too healthy’. The final exposure groups were defined by how far they were from the detonation.

But all groups were exposed to residual radioactivity from the bombs. The US and ABCC denied (and still denies) this. There were internal exposures to all the groups whatever their external dose had been at the detonation.

Uranium: a genetic poison that targets DNA

The origin was the “black rain” which contained Uranium-235, Uranium-238 and particularly Uranium-234, which is the missing exposure, and is probably responsible for most of the cancer effects in all the survivors. We know that the Uranium was there because it was measured by Japanese scientists in 1983.

A recently declassified US document tabulates the enormous U-234 content of the enriched Uranium used in the bombs, codename: Oralloy. The Uranium nanoparticles in the Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) black rain were available for inhalation by all the exposure groups in the ruins of Hiroshima for years after the bomb.

All the bombs were made of Uranium, about 1 ton per Megaton yield. For all those tests in Nevada, the Marshall Islands, Kazakhstan, Christmas Island, the results were the same: down came the nanoparticles to be inhaled by anyone nearby and distant.

Why does this matter? New research has been carried out on Uranium. We find that Uranium targets DNA through chemical affinity. This causes terrible and anomalous genetic damage, out or all proportion to its “dose” as calculated by ICRP. Other fallout components also bind chemically to DNA, e.g. Strontium-90, Barium-140.

Those exposed: Uranium miners, Gulf Veterans, Test Veterans, DU civilians, Nuclear Uranium workers, Nuclear Site downwinders, all suffer chromosome damage, cancer, leukemia, heart disease, the works. All this is published, as are the results of laboratory and theoretical studies showing mechanisms. But in the Lancet: nothing.

S L Simon and A Bouville who wrote the article on the health effects of the nuclear testing did not even mention Uranium there, nor in their epic 2010 study of the Marshall Islands exposures. The Nevada site data that they used for their baseline calculations ignored it totally.

In 2012, I made a presentation for the Marshall Islanders at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, attacking the Simon et al analysis. In their Lancet nuclear test article, Simon and Bouville major on Iodine effects. So let’s look at those.

Scientific evidence from Fukushima: massive excess of thyroid cancers

In Fukushima Prefecture, surveys have confirmed 103 thyroid cancers in 380,000 18-year olds (25 or so are still being checked out). The Lancet article by Wakeford et al. presents an excess Relative Risk culled from the Hiroshima studies of 0.6 per Sievert (Fig 2 p 473). In the very same issue, the maximum thyroid dose was given as 18mSv with the median dose as 0.67mSv.

So in the two years of screening, if everyone screened got the maximum thyroid dose of 18mSv we should expect an increase of 0.018 x 0.6 = 0.011, a 1.1% increase in the background rate. This background is about 1 per 100,000 per year or 7.6 in two years in 380,000. So the radiation should increase this to 7.7 cases (i.e. one extra case in 10 years).

There are 103, that is 95 more cases than expected, an error in the ICRP model of 95/0.14 = 678-fold. That is, there are 678 times more thyroid cancers than the Hiroshima-based ICRP model predicts.

This calculation is based on what was written in The Lancet – but nobody made the calculation. This on its own should show the authorities (and the public) that the game is up. But instead of doing the simple calculation, another article in The Lancet, written by Geoff Watts, praises the work of those at Fukushima Medical University, who are busy telling everyone that the increases in thyroid cancer cannot be caused by the radiation.

In other words, once again, the predictions from Hiroshima are believed, rather than the evidence in front of their eyes. It’s a kind of mass hypnosis (or maybe not).

Finally, someone is trying to get to the truth of the matter

In case you think this is all mad stuff, there does at last seem to be some measure of concern evolving in this area of internal radiation, though no one in The Lancet articles mentions it. The European Union radiation research organization MELODI has finally moved into action, led by the French radiation protection agency IRSN.

The matter was raised (by me) at the inaugural MELODI conference in Paris in 2011, but nothing seemed to develop. I said that there are likely to be dose estimation problems associated with internal exposure to nuclides which bind to DNA, and particularly Uranium; that this potentially falsified the Hiroshima risk model.

A hugely expensive European research project has now been proposed. It is CURE: Concerted Uranium Research Europe. In the report launching this development in March 2015 the authors wrote: a large scale integrated collaborative project will be proposed to improve the characterization of the biological and health effects associated with uranium internal contamination in Europe.

In the future, it might be envisaged to extend collaborations with other countries outside the European Union, to apply the proposed approach to other internal emitters and other exposure situations of internal contamination, and to open the reflections to other disciplines interested in the effects of internal contaminations by radionuclides.

In the future, Hiroshima should not be remembered not just for the destruction of its inhabitants, but also for being the flag for the epidemiological cover-up of the biggest public health scandal in human history, whose victims number hundreds of millions – in cancer deaths and miscarriages, infant deaths, loss of fertility and the introduction of genomic instability to all creatures on Earth.

Let us pray that it will not be allowed to sanction the final nuclear exchange, on the mistaken prediction that such an event will be winnable.

 


 

Chris Busby is an expert on the health effects of ionizing radiation. He qualified in Chemical Physics at the Universities of London and Kent, and worked on the molecular physical chemistry of living cells for the Wellcome Foundation. Professor Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk based in Brussels and has edited many of its publications since its founding in 1998. He has held a number of honorary University positions, including Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health of the University of Ulster. Busby currently lives in Riga, Latvia.

http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2977669/after_hiroshima_and_nagasaki_a_third_nuclear_atrocity_the_corruption_of_science.html

August 11, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Hiroshima Bombing 71st Anniversary

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Colorful lanterns float down the Motoyasu River near the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward on the evening of Aug. 6, 2016, in memory of the victims of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city in 1945 and in prayer for peace around the globe. Hiroshima marked the 71st anniversary of the bombing with numerous memorial services across the city. Among attendees at the peace ceremony held at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park were representatives from 91 countries and the European Union.

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Colorful lanterns float down the Motoyasu River near the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward on the evening of Aug. 6, 2016.

August 9, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Full text of 2016 Hiroshima Peace Declaration

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Hiroshima – The following is the full text of the Peace Declaration read Saturday by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui at a ceremony to mark the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima:

1945, August 6, 8:15 a.m. Slicing through the clear blue sky, a previously unknown “absolute evil” is unleashed on Hiroshima, instantly searing the entire city. Koreans, Chinese, Southeast Asians, American prisoners of war, children, the elderly and other innocent people are slaughtered. By the end of the year, 140,000 are dead.

Those who managed to survive suffered the aftereffects of radiation, encountered discrimination in work and marriage, and still carry deep scars in their minds and bodies. From utter obliteration, Hiroshima was reborn a beautiful city of peace; but familiar scenes from our riversides, patterns of daily life, and cultural traditions nurtured through centuries of history vanished in that “absolute evil,” never to return.

He was a boy of 17. Today he recalls, “Charred corpses blocked the road. An eerie stench filled my nose. A sea of fire spread as far as I could see. Hiroshima was a living hell.” She was a girl of 18. “I was covered in blood. Around me were people with skin flayed from their backs hanging all the way to their feet — crying, screaming, begging for water.”

Seventy-one years later, over 15,000 nuclear weapons remain, individually much more destructive than the one that inflicted Hiroshima’s tragedy, collectively enough to destroy the Earth itself. We now know of numerous accidents and incidents that brought us to the brink of nuclear explosions or war; today we even fear their use by terrorists.

Given this reality, we must heed the hibakusha. The man who described a living hell says, “For the future of humanity, we need to help each other live in peace and happiness with reverence for all life.” The woman who was covered in blood appeals to coming generations, “To make the most of the life we’ve been given, please, everyone, shout loudly that we don’t need nuclear weapons.” If we accept these appeals, we must do far more than we have been doing. We must respect diverse values and strive persistently toward a world where all people are truly “living together.”

When President Obama visited Hiroshima in May, he became the first sitting president of the country that dropped the atomic bomb to do so. Declaring, “…among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them,” he expressed acceptance of the hibakusha’s heartfelt plea that “no one else should ever suffer as we have.” Demonstrating to the people of the United States and the world a passion to fight to eliminate all remaining nuclear weapons, the president’s words showed that he was touched by the spirit of Hiroshima, which refuses to accept the “absolute evil.”

Is it not time to honor the spirit of Hiroshima and clear the path toward a world free from that “absolute evil,” that ultimate inhumanity? Is it not time to unify and manifest our passion in action? This year, for the first time ever, the Group of Seven foreign ministers gathered in Hiroshima. Transcending the differences between countries with and without nuclear weapons, their declaration called for political leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and fulfillment of the obligation to negotiate nuclear disarmament mandated by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This declaration was unquestionably a step toward unity.

We need to fill our policymakers with the passion to solidify this unity and create a security system based on trust and dialogue. To that end, I once again urge the leaders of all nations to visit the A-bombed cities. As President Obama confirmed in Hiroshima, such visits will surely etch the reality of the atomic bombings in each heart. Along with conveying the pain and suffering of the hibakusha, I am convinced they will elicit manifestations of determination.

The average age of the hibakusha has exceeded 80. Our time to hear their experiences face to face grows short. Looking toward the future, we will need our youth to help convey the words and feelings of the hibakusha. Mayors for Peace, now with over 7,000 city members worldwide, will work regionally, through more than 20 lead cities, and globally, led by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to promote youth exchange. We will help young people cultivate a shared determination to stand together and initiate concrete action for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Here in Hiroshima, Prime Minister Abe expressed determination “to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.” I expect him to join with President Obama and display leadership in this endeavor. A nuclear-weapon-free world would manifest the noble pacifism of the Japanese Constitution, and to ensure progress, a legal framework banning nuclear weapons is indispensable. In addition, I demand that the Japanese government expand the “black rain areas” and improve assistance to the hibakusha, whose average age is over 80, and the many others who suffer the mental and physical effects of radiation.

Today, we renew our determination, offer heartfelt consolation to the souls of the A-bomb victims, and pledge to do everything in our power, working with the A-bombed city of Nagasaki and millions around the world, to abolish nuclear weapons and build lasting world peace.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/06/national/history/full-text-2016-hiroshima-peace-declaration/

August 7, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | 1 Comment

The Bomb Didn’t Beat Japan … Stalin Did

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May 30, 2013

Have 70 years of nuclear policy been based on a lie?

The U.S. use of nuclear weapons against Japan during World War II has long been a subject of emotional debate. Initially, few questioned President Truman’s decision to drop two atomic bombs, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But, in 1965, historian Gar Alperovitz argued that, although the bombs did force an immediate end to the war, Japan’s leaders had wanted to surrender anyway and likely would have done so before the American invasion planned for Nov. 1. Their use was, therefore, unnecessary. Obviously, if the bombings weren’t necessary to win the war, then bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wrong. In the 48 years since, many others have joined the fray: some echoing Alperovitz and denouncing the bombings, others rejoining hotly that the bombings were moral, necessary, and life-saving.

Both schools of thought, however, assume that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with new, more powerful weapons did coerce Japan into surrendering on Aug. 9. They fail to question the utility of the bombing in the first place — to ask, in essence, did it work? The orthodox view is that, yes, of course, it worked. The United States bombed Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9, when the Japanese finally succumbed to the threat of further nuclear bombardment and surrendered. The support for this narrative runs deep. But there are three major problems with it, and, taken together, they significantly undermine the traditional interpretation of the Japanese surrender.

Timing

The first problem with the traditional interpretation is timing. And it is a serious problem. The traditional interpretation has a simple timeline: The U.S. Army Air Force bombs Hiroshima with a nuclear weapon on Aug. 6, three days later they bomb Nagasaki with another, and on the next day the Japanese signal their intention to surrender.* One can hardly blame American newspapers for running headlines like: “Peace in the Pacific: Our Bomb Did It!”

When the story of Hiroshima is told in most American histories, the day of the bombing — Aug. 6 — serves as the narrative climax. All the elements of the story point forward to that moment: the decision to build a bomb, the secret research at Los Alamos, the first impressive test, and the final culmination at Hiroshima. It is told, in other words, as a story about the Bomb. But you can’t analyze Japan’s decision to surrender objectively in the context of the story of the Bomb. Casting it as “the story of the Bomb” already presumes that the Bomb’s role is central.

Viewed from the Japanese perspective, the most important day in that second week of August wasn’t Aug. 6 but Aug. 9. That was the day that the Supreme Council met — for the first time in the war — to discuss unconditional surrender. The Supreme Council was a group of six top members of the government — a sort of inner cabinet — that effectively ruled Japan in 1945. Japan’s leaders had not seriously considered surrendering prior to that day. Unconditional surrender (what the Allies were demanding) was a bitter pill to swallow. The United States and Great Britain were already convening war crimes trials in Europe. What if they decided to put the emperor — who was believed to be divine — on trial? What if they got rid of the emperor and changed the form of government entirely? Even though the situation was bad in the summer of 1945, the leaders of Japan were not willing to consider giving up their traditions, their beliefs, or their way of life. Until Aug. 9. What could have happened that caused them to so suddenly and decisively change their minds? What made them sit down to seriously discuss surrender for the first time after 14 years of war?

It could not have been Nagasaki. The bombing of Nagasaki occurred in the late morning of Aug. 9, after the Supreme Council had already begun meeting to discuss surrender, and word of the bombing only reached Japan’s leaders in the early afternoon — after the meeting of the Supreme Council had been adjourned in deadlock and the full cabinet had been called to take up the discussion. Based on timing alone, Nagasaki can’t have been what motivated them.

Hiroshima isn’t a very good candidate either. It came 74 hours — more than three days — earlier. What kind of crisis takes three days to unfold? The hallmark of a crisis is a sense of impending disaster and the overwhelming desire to take action now. How could Japan’s leaders have felt that Hiroshima touched off a crisis and yet not meet to talk about the problem for three days?

President John F. Kennedy was sitting up in bed reading the morning papers at about 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 16, 1962, when McGeorge Bundy, his national security advisor, came in to inform him that the Soviet Union was secretly putting nuclear missiles in Cuba. Within two hours and forty-five minutes a special committee had been created, its members selected, contacted, brought to the White House, and were seated around the cabinet table to discuss what should be done.

President Harry Truman was vacationing in Independence, Missouri, on June 25, 1950, when North Korea sent its troops across the 38th parallel, invading South Korea. Secretary of State Acheson called Truman that Saturday morning to give him the news. Within 24 hours, Truman had flown halfway across the United States and was seated at Blair House (the White House was undergoing renovations) with his top military and political advisors talking about what to do.

Even Gen. George Brinton McClellan — the Union commander of the Army of the Potomac in 1863 during the American Civil War, of whom President Lincoln said sadly, “He’s got the slows” — wasted only 12 hours when he was given a captured copy of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s orders for the invasion of Maryland.

These leaders responded — as leaders in any country would — to the imperative call that a crisis creates. They each took decisive steps in a short period of time. How can we square this sort of behavior with the actions of Japan’s leaders? If Hiroshima really touched off a crisis that eventually forced the Japanese to surrender after fighting for 14 years, why did it take them three days to sit down to discuss it?

One might argue that the delay is perfectly logical. Perhaps they only came to realize the importance of the bombing slowly. Perhaps they didn’t know it was a nuclear weapon and when they did realize it and understood the terrible effects such a weapon could have, they naturally concluded they had to surrender. Unfortunately, this explanation doesn’t square with the evidence.

First, Hiroshima’s governor reported to Tokyo on the very day Hiroshima was bombed that about a third of the population had been killed in the attack and that two thirds of the city had been destroyed. This information didn’t change over the next several days. So the outcome — the end result of the bombing — was clear from the beginning. Japan’s leaders knew roughly the outcome of the attack on the first day, yet they still did not act.

Second, the preliminary report prepared by the Army team that investigated the Hiroshima bombing, the one that gave details about what had happened there, was not delivered until Aug. 10. It didn’t reach Tokyo, in other words, until after the decision to surrender had already been taken. Although their verbal report was delivered (to the military) on Aug. 8, the details of the bombing were not available until two days later. The decision to surrender was therefore not based on a deep appreciation of the horror at Hiroshima.

Third, the Japanese military understood, at least in a rough way, what nuclear weapons were. Japan had a nuclear weapons program. Several of the military men mention the fact that it was a nuclear weapon that destroyed Hiroshima in their diaries. Gen. Anami Korechika, minster of war, even went to consult with the head of the Japanese nuclear weapons program on the night of Aug. 7. The idea that Japan’s leaders didn’t know about nuclear weapons doesn’t hold up.

Finally, one other fact about timing creates a striking problem. On Aug. 8, Foreign Minister Togo Shigenori went to Premier Suzuki Kantaro and asked that the Supreme Council be convened to discuss the bombing of Hiroshima, but its members declined. So the crisis didn’t grow day by day until it finally burst into full bloom on Aug. 9. Any explanation of the actions of Japan’s leaders that relies on the “shock” of the bombing of Hiroshima has to account for the fact that they considered a meeting to discuss the bombing on Aug. 8, made a judgment that it was too unimportant, and then suddenly decided to meet to discuss surrender the very next day. Either they succumbed to some sort of group schizophrenia, or some other event was the real motivation to discuss surrender.

Scale

Historically, the use of the Bomb may seem like the most important discrete event of the war. From the contemporary Japanese perspective, however, it might not have been so easy to distinguish the Bomb from other events. It is, after all, difficult to distinguish a single drop of rain in the midst of a hurricane.

In the summer of 1945, the U.S. Army Air Force carried out one of the most intense campaigns of city destruction in the history of the world. Sixty-eight cities in Japan were attacked and all of them were either partially or completely destroyed. An estimated 1.7 million people were made homeless, 300,000 were killed, and 750,000 were wounded. Sixty-six of these raids were carried out with conventional bombs, two with atomic bombs. The destruction caused by conventional attacks was huge. Night after night, all summer long, cities would go up in smoke. In the midst of this cascade of destruction, it would not be surprising if this or that individual attack failed to make much of an impression — even if it was carried out with a remarkable new type of weapon.

A B-29 bomber flying from the Mariana Islands could carry — depending on the location of the target and the altitude of attack — somewhere between 16,000 and 20,000 pounds of bombs. A typical raid consisted of 500 bombers. This means that the typical conventional raid was dropping 4 to 5 kilotons of bombs on each city. (A kiloton is a thousand tons and is the standard measure of the explosive power of a nuclear weapon. The Hiroshima bomb measured 16.5 kilotons, the Nagasaki bomb 20 kilotons.) Given that many bombs spread the destruction evenly (and therefore more effectively), while a single, more powerful bomb wastes much of its power at the center of the explosion — re-bouncing the rubble, as it were — it could be argued that some of the conventional raids approached the destruction of the two atomic bombings.

The first of the conventional raids, a night attack on Tokyo on March 9-10, 1945, remains the single most destructive attack on a city in the history of war. Something like 16 square miles of the city were burned out. An estimated 120,000 Japanese lost their lives — the single highest death toll of any bombing attack on a city.

We often imagine, because of the way the story is told, that the bombing of Hiroshima was far worse. We imagine that the number of people killed was off the charts. But if you graph the number of people killed in all 68 cities bombed in the summer of 1945, you find that Hiroshima was second in terms of civilian deaths. If you chart the number of square miles destroyed, you find that Hiroshima was fourth. If you chart the percentage of the city destroyed, Hiroshima was 17th. Hiroshima was clearly within the parameters of the conventional attacks carried out that summer.

From our perspective, Hiroshima seems singular, extraordinary. But if you put yourself in the shoes of Japan’s leaders in the three weeks leading up to the attack on Hiroshima, the picture is considerably different. If you were one of the key members of Japan’s government in late July and early August, your experience of city bombing would have been something like this: On the morning of July 17, you would have been greeted by reports that during the night four cities had been attacked: Oita, Hiratsuka, Numazu, and Kuwana. Of these, Oita and Hiratsuka were more than 50 percent destroyed. Kuwana was more than 75 percent destroyed and Numazu was hit even more severely, with something like 90 percent of the city burned to the ground.

Three days later you have woken to find that three more cities had been attacked. Fukui was more than 80 percent destroyed. A week later and three more cities have been attacked during the night. Two days later and six more cities were attacked in one night, including Ichinomiya, which was 75 percent destroyed. On Aug. 2, you would have arrived at the office to reports that four more cities have been attacked. And the reports would have included the information that Toyama (roughly the size of Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1945), had been 99.5 percent destroyed. Virtually the entire city had been leveled. Four days later and four more cities have been attacked. On Aug. 6, only one city, Hiroshima, was attacked but reports say that the damage was great and a new type bomb was used. How much would this one new attack have stood out against the background of city destruction that had been going on for weeks?

In the three weeks prior to Hiroshima, 26 cities were attacked by the U.S. Army Air Force. Of these, eight — or almost a third — were as completely or more completely destroyed than Hiroshima (in terms of the percentage of the city destroyed). The fact that Japan had 68 cities destroyed in the summer of 1945 poses a serious challenge for people who want to make the bombing of Hiroshima the cause of Japan’s surrender. The question is: If they surrendered because a city was destroyed, why didn’t they surrender when those other 66 cities were destroyed?

If Japan’s leaders were going to surrender because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you would expect to find that they cared about the bombing of cities in general, that the city attacks put pressure on them to surrender. But this doesn’t appear to be so. Two days after the bombing of Tokyo, retired Foreign Minister Shidehara Kijuro expressed a sentiment that was apparently widely held among Japanese high-ranking officials at the time. Shidehara opined that “the people would gradually get used to being bombed daily. In time their unity and resolve would grow stronger.” In a letter to a friend he said it was important for citizens to endure the suffering because “even if hundreds of thousands of noncombatants are killed, injured, or starved, even if millions of buildings are destroyed or burned,” additional time was needed for diplomacy. It is worth remembering that Shidehara was a moderate.

At the highest levels of government — in the Supreme Council — attitudes were apparently the same. Although the Supreme Council discussed the importance of the Soviet Union remaining neutral, they didn’t have a full-dress discussion about the impact of city bombing. In the records that have been preserved, city bombing doesn’t even get mentioned during Supreme Council discussions except on two occasions: once in passing in May 1945 and once during the wide-ranging discussion on the night of Aug. 9. Based on the evidence, it is difficult to make a case that Japan’s leaders thought that city bombing — compared to the other pressing matters involved in running a war — had much significance at all.

Gen. Anami on Aug. 13 remarked that the atomic bombings were no more menacing than the fire-bombing that Japan had endured for months. If Hiroshima and Nagasaki were no worse than the fire bombings, and if Japan’s leaders did not consider them important enough to discuss in depth, how can Hiroshima and Nagasaki have coerced them to surrender?

Strategic significance

If the Japanese were not concerned with city bombing in general or the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in particular, what were they concerned with? The answer
is simple: the Soviet Union.

The Japanese were in a relatively difficult strategic situation. They were nearing the end of a war they were losing. Conditions were bad. The Army, however, was still strong and well-supplied. Nearly 4 million men were under arms and 1.2 million of those were guarding Japan’s home islands.

Even the most hard-line leaders in Japan’s government knew that the war could not go on. The question was not whether to continue, but how to bring the war to a close under the best terms possible. The Allies (the United States, Great Britain, and others — the Soviet Union, remember, was still neutral) were demanding “unconditional surrender.” Japan’s leaders hoped that they might be able to figure out a way to avoid war crimes trials, keep their form of government, and keep some of the territories they’d conquered: Korea, Vietnam, Burma, parts of Malaysia and Indonesia, a large portion of eastern China, and numerous islands in the Pacific.

They had two plans for getting better surrender terms; they had, in other words, two strategic options. The first was diplomatic. Japan had signed a five-year neutrality pact with the Soviets in April of 1941, which would expire in 1946. A group consisting mostly of civilian leaders and led by Foreign Minister Togo Shigenori hoped that Stalin might be convinced to mediate a settlement between the United States and its allies on the one hand, and Japan on the other. Even though this plan was a long shot, it reflected sound strategic thinking. After all, it would be in the Soviet Union’s interest to make sure that the terms of the settlement were not too favorable to the United States: any increase in U.S. influence and power in Asia would mean a decrease in Russian power and influence.

The second plan was military, and most of its proponents, led by the Army Minister Anami Korechika, were military men. They hoped to use Imperial Army ground troops to inflict high casualties on U.S. forces when they invaded. If they succeeded, they felt, they might be able to get the United States to offer better terms. This strategy was also a long shot. The United States seemed deeply committed to unconditional surrender. But since there was, in fact, concern in U.S. military circles that the casualties in an invasion would be prohibitive, the Japanese high command’s strategy was not entirely off the mark.

One way to gauge whether it was the bombing of Hiroshima or the invasion and declaration of war by the Soviet Union that caused Japan’s surrender is to compare the way in which these two events affected the strategic situation. After Hiroshima was bombed on Aug. 6, both options were still alive. It would still have been possible to ask Stalin to mediate (and Takagi’s diary entries from Aug. 8 show that at least some of Japan’s leaders were still thinking about the effort to get Stalin involved). It would also still have been possible to try to fight one last decisive battle and inflict heavy casualties. The destruction of Hiroshima had done nothing to reduce the preparedness of the troops dug in on the beaches of Japan’s home islands. There was now one fewer city behind them, but they were still dug in, they still had ammunition, and their military strength had not been diminished in any important way. Bombing Hiroshima did not foreclose either of Japan’s strategic options.

The impact of the Soviet declaration of war and invasion of Manchuria and Sakhalin Island was quite different, however. Once the Soviet Union had declared war, Stalin could no longer act as a mediator — he was now a belligerent. So the diplomatic option was wiped out by the Soviet move. The effect on the military situation was equally dramatic. Most of Japan’s best troops had been shifted to the southern part of the home islands. Japan’s military had correctly guessed that the likely first target of an American invasion would be the southernmost island of Kyushu. The once proud Kwangtung army in Manchuria, for example, was a shell of its former self because its best units had been shifted away to defend Japan itself. When the Russians invaded Manchuria, they sliced through what had once been an elite army and many Russian units only stopped when they ran out of gas. The Soviet 16th Army — 100,000 strong — launched an invasion of the southern half of Sakhalin Island. Their orders were to mop up Japanese resistance there, and then — within 10 to 14 days — be prepared to invade Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s home islands. The Japanese force tasked with defending Hokkaido, the 5th Area Army, was under strength at two divisions and two brigades, and was in fortified positions on the east side of the island. The Soviet plan of attack called for an invasion of Hokkaido from the west.

It didn’t take a military genius to see that, while it might be possible to fight a decisive battle against one great power invading from one direction, it would not be possible to fight off two great powers attacking from two different directions. The Soviet invasion invalidated the military’s decisive battle strategy, just as it invalidated the diplomatic strategy. At a single stroke, all of Japan’s options evaporated. The Soviet invasion was strategically decisive — it foreclosed both of Japan’s options — while the bombing of Hiroshima (which foreclosed neither) was not.

The Soviet declaration of war also changed the calculation of how much time was left for maneuver. Japanese intelligence was predicting that U.S. forces might not invade for months. Soviet forces, on the other hand, could be in Japan proper in as little as 10 days. The Soviet invasion made a decision on ending the war extremely time sensitive.

And Japan’s leaders had reached this conclusion some months earlier. In a meeting of the Supreme Council in June 1945, they said that Soviet entry into the war “would determine the fate of the Empire.” Army Deputy Chief of Staff Kawabe said, in that same meeting, “The absolute maintenance of peace in our relations with the Soviet Union is imperative for the continuation of the war.”

Japan’s leaders consistently displayed disinterest in the city bombing that was wrecking their cities. And while this may have been wrong when the bombing began in March of 1945, by the time Hiroshima was hit, they were certainly right to see city bombing as an unimportant sideshow, in terms of strategic impact. When Truman famously threatened to visit a “rain of ruin” on Japanese cities if Japan did not surrender, few people in the United States realized that there was very little left to destroy. By Aug. 7, when Truman’s threat was made, only 10 cities larger than 100,000 people remained that had not already been bombed. Once Nagasaki was attacked on Aug. 9, only nine cities were left. Four of those were on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, which was difficult to bomb because of the distance from Tinian Island where American planes were based. Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, had been removed from the target list by Secretary of War Henry Stimson because of its religious and symbolic importance. So despite the fearsome sound of Truman’s threat, after Nagasaki was bombed only four major cities remained which could readily have been hit with atomic weapons.

The thoroughness and extent of the U.S. Army Air Force’s campaign of city bombing can be gauged by the fact that they had run through so many of Japan’s cities that they were reduced to bombing “cities” of 30,000 people or fewer. In the modern world, 30,000 is no more than a large town.

Of course it would always have been possible to re-bomb cities that had already been bombed with firebombs. But these cities were, on average, already 50 percent destroyed. Or the United States could have bombed smaller cities with atomic weapons. There were, however, only six smaller cities (with populations between 30,000 and 100,000) which had not already been bombed. Given that Japan had already had major bombing damage done to 68 cities, and had, for the most part, shrugged it off, it is perhaps not surprising that Japan’s leaders were unimpressed with the threat of further bombing. It was not strategically compelling.

A convenient story

Despite the existence of these three powerful objections, the traditional interpretation still retains a strong hold on many people’s thinking, particularly in the United States. There is real resistance to looking at the facts. But perhaps this should not be surprising. It is worth reminding ourselves how emotionally convenient the traditional explanation of Hiroshima is — both for Japan and the United States. Ideas can have persistence because they are true, but unfortunately, they can also persist because they are emotionally satisfying: They fill an important psychic need. For example, at the end of the war the traditional interpretation of Hiroshima helped Japan’s leaders achieve a number of important political aims, both domestic and international.

Put yourself in the shoes of the emperor. You’ve just led your country through a disastrous war. The economy is shattered. Eighty percent of your cities have been bombed and burned. The Army has been pummeled in a string of defeats. The Navy has been decimated and confined to port. Starvation is looming. The war, in short, has been a catastrophe and, worst of all, you’ve been lying to your people about how bad the situation really is. They will be shocked by news of surrender. So which would you rather do? Admit that you failed badly? Issue a statement that says that you miscalculated spectacularly, made repeated mistakes, and did enormous damage to the nation? Or would you rather blame the loss on an amazing scientific breakthrough that no one could have predicted? At a single stroke, blaming the loss of the war on the atomic bomb swept all the mistakes and misjudgments of the war under the rug. The Bomb was the perfect excuse for having lost the war. No need to apportion blame; no court of enquiry need be held. Japan’s leaders were able to claim they had done their best. So, at the most general level the Bomb served to deflect blame from Japan’s leaders.

But attributing Japan’s defeat to the Bomb also served three other specific political purposes. First, it helped to preserve the legitimacy of the emperor. If the war was lost not because of mistakes but because of the enemy’s unexpected miracle weapon, then the institution of the emperor might continue to find support within Japan.

Second, it appealed to international sympathy. Japan had waged war aggressively, and with particular brutality toward conquered peoples. Its behavior was likely to be condemned by other nations. Being able to recast Japan as a victimized nation — one that had been unfairly bombed with a cruel and horrifying instrument of war — would help to offset some of the morally repugnant things Japan’s military had done. Drawing attention to the atomic bombings helped to paint Japan in a more sympathetic light and deflect support for harsh punishment.

Finally, saying that the Bomb won the war would please Japan’s American victors. The American occupation did not officially end in Japan until 1952, and during that time the United States had the power to change or remake Japanese society as they saw fit. During the early days of the occupation, many Japanese officials worried that the Americans intended to abolish the institution of the emperor. And they had another worry. Many of Japan’s top government officials knew that they might face war crimes trials (the war crimes trials against Germany’s leaders were already underway in Europe when Japan surrendered). Japanese historian Asada Sadao has said that in many of the postwar interviews “Japanese officials … were obviously anxious to please their American questioners.” If the Americans wanted to believe that the Bomb won the war, why disappoint them?

Attributing the end of the war to the atomic bomb served Japan’s interests in multiple ways. But it also served U.S. interests. If the Bomb won the war, then the perception of U.S. military power would be enhanced, U.S. diplomatic influence in Asia and around the world would increase, and U.S. security would be strengthened. The $2 billion spent to build it would not have been wasted. If, on the other hand, the Soviet entry into the war was what caused Japan to surrender, then the Soviets could claim that they were able to do in four days what the United States was unable to do in four years, and the perception of Soviet military power and Soviet diplomatic influence would be enhanced. And once the Cold War was underway, asserting that the Soviet entry had been the decisive factor would have been tantamount to giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

It is troubling to consider, given the questions raised here, that the evidence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is at the heart of everything we think about nuclear weapons. This event is the bedrock of the case for the importance of nuclear weapons. It is crucial to their unique status, the notion that the normal rules do not apply to nuclear weapons. It is an important measure of nuclear threats: Truman’s threat to visit a “rain of ruin” on Japan was the first explicit nuclear threat. It is key to the aura of enormous power that surrounds the weapons and makes them so important in international relations.

But what are we to make of all those conclusions if the traditional story of Hiroshima is called into doubt? Hiroshima is the center, the point from which all other claims and assertions radiate out. Yet the story we have been telling ourselves seems pretty far removed from the facts. What are we to think about nuclear weapons if this enormous first accomplishment — the miracle of Japan’s sudden surrender — turns out to be a myth?

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August 7, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/05/blogumentary-giving-voice-to-survivors-from-hiroshima-nagasaki-and-fukushima/

 

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

Documentary debunks the myths of the official US justification to drop the atomic bombs

71 years ago today, the US Empire murdered 150,000 innocent human beings in Hiroshima to threaten & dominate the entire world.
Our documentary debunks the myths of the official US justification to drop the atomic bombs.

Obama’s high-profile trip to Hiroshima was accompanied by a media storm that gave endless justifications for the US use of the atomic bomb on Japanese civilians. The myths are widely accepted in society, and underpin the notion of American exceptionalism.

Abby Martin interviews Dr. Peter Kuznick, co-author with Director Oliver Stone of the bestselling book and HBO series “The Untold History of the United States,” about the real story behind the use of the atomic bombs—as well as the untold history of Imperial Japan, its role today for the US Empire, and the danger for new war on the horizon.

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

Why did Japan surrender in World War II?

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There is contentious debate among scholars about why Japan surrendered in World War II. Some believe the Aug. 15, 1945, declaration was the result of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It’s possible that these finally pushed Emperor Hirohito (posthumously called Emperor Showa) to break the deadlock in the Supreme War Council and accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration for unconditional surrender issued by the Allied leaders on July 26, 1945. In that declaration, there was a promise of “prompt and utter destruction” if the armed forces of Japan didn’t surrender. The use of weapons of mass destruction causing the incineration of large swaths of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in quick succession backed up that threat, highlighting the futility of continuing the war. Emperor Hirohito’s intervention on the side of those favoring capitulation was crucial to winning over those hardliners who didn’t. In this narrative, the dawning of the nuclear age brought peace. It also allowed military leaders to save face, since they could claim that the war was not lost on the battlefield, and agree to surrender to spare the Japanese people from more suffering.

This meant abandoning ketsu-go, the strategy of fighting one last decisive battle intended to inflict so many casualties on a war-weary America that it would relax its demands for unconditional surrender and negotiate a peace. This would, at a minimum, safeguard the Emperor, and potentially preserve the armed forces and shield them from prosecution for war crimes. This strategy was affirmed in June 1945 as the gruesome and bloody Battle of Okinawa was winding down. Reinforcements had been transferred from Manchuria to bolster the defense of Kyushu where the U.S. was expected to attack next.

In February 1945, Joseph Stalin met with Allied leaders in Yalta, promising to attack Japan three months after Germany’s surrender. He kept his promise, and Soviet troops invaded Manchuria in the wee hours of Aug. 9 before the Nagasaki bombing later that day. This came as a shock to Japanese leaders who had been trying throughout July that year to engage the Soviets as brokers in a peace deal with the Allies.

Soviet entry into the war was an alarming development for a military leadership that vowed to keep fighting to save the Emperor. The fate of the czar at the hands of communists, and prospects for a punitive Soviet occupation, influenced the calculus of surrender.

In February 1945, the Japanese military conducted a survey that concluded that Japan could not win the war. But they were not squeamish about the suffering of the Japanese public — more than 60 Japanese cities were subjected to extensive firebombing in 1945, displacing, maiming and killing several hundred thousand civilians. Military leaders could not contemplate the ignominy of surrender, so they compelled their nation to continue fighting a war that was already lost, subjecting the Japanese to horrific suffering that they could have ended far sooner.

Historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, in his 2005 book “Racing the Enemy,” provides compelling evidence that the Pacific War ended due to the entry of the Soviets, not the atomic bombings. Having tasted defeat at the hands of the Soviets twice in the late 1930s in Manchurian border clashes, the generals knew that the new front meant further resistance was futile.

Sheldon Garon, a professor of history at Princeton University, takes issue with Hasegawa’s contention that the military was insouciant about Japanese suffering and ready to fight to the last civilian. Recently, Garon gave a talk in Tokyo about an ongoing book project focusing on how the war was lost for Germany and Japan.

He argues that the U.S. was surprised by Japan’s sudden surrender, noting that by Aug. 19, 1945, America would have had three more atomic bombs ready and had six more in production — it did not anticipate a swift end.

According to Garon, the Japanese military was deeply concerned by worsening conditions in Japan because they were undermining the war effort. Authorities, for example, planned the evacuation of a few hundred thousand school children to spare them the urban conflagrations, but were not prepared for the mass exodus of adults who bailed because they knew the military could not protect them. Roads out of Tokyo were clogged with these refugees: 8.5 million fled Japanese cities in the final five months of war, paralyzing transport networks.

This rural-escape survival strategy meant demoralized workers were abandoning factories, compounding existing shortages of war-related production.

According to Garon, these acts of sabotage also meant that an orderly society was no longer obeying orders, responding to accumulating signs of impending defeat. Alas, many of these unlucky refugees fled to smaller cities, and thus were subject to more bombings as America moved onto second-tier targets. The U.S. dropped leaflets warning of impending strikes, and then delivered, stoking fear and undermining faith in the government.

Officials were also demoralized by Germany’s surrender, and the horrific fight to the end that Adolf Hitler insisted on, subjecting his people and cities to a relentless pounding.

Garon observes that the Germans fought like samurai, sacrificing all even when they knew it was for a losing cause. While much is made of Japanese authorities training women and children to resist U.S. invaders with bamboo staves, Garon notes that none ever did so. In contrast, Germany took desperate measures, resorting to full mobilization and deploying these untrained conscripts to battlefields where many died or were injured.

Japan’s diplomats in Europe were shocked by the devastation of Germany and conveyed their concerns about Hitler’s “fighting to the finish” strategy. They advised against emulating the Germans, and thus implicitly counseled surrender for the national interest. But finding an exit with dignity proved elusive.

Garon attributes Japan’s delayed surrender to military intransigence and diplomatic incompetence, a dithering that subjected Japan to needless devastation.

Finally, it was the Soviet entry into the war and the atomic bombings that precipitated a hasty surrender. But it was overdue because the signs of defeat, including a devastating series of setbacks on the home front, had been gathering for some time: endless fire bombings, growing shortages of food due to the U.S. blockade “Operation Starvation,” bereaved families and the subversion of people voting with their feet. There was no appetite for suffering the fate of the Nazis or subjecting the nation to more nightmarish ruination.

As the public — no longer willing to endure — soured on the war, what choice did the Emperor and his advisers have if the Imperial Household was to survive?

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/08/06/commentary/japan-surrender-world-war-ii/#.V6Z_DkmCsXg.facebook

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

If Abe is serious, he should listen in earnest to anti-nuke calls

(We can choose) a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening.” That was how Barack Obama wound up his 17-minute-long public address during his historic visit to Hiroshima on May 27.

He was the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city leveled by the world’s first atomic bombing. The 71st anniversary of that event fell on Aug. 6. Nagasaki suffered the same fate as Hiroshima three days later, on Aug. 9, 1945.

Obama’s visit to Hiroshima was a benchmark event. Even so, nuclear stockpiles around the world are still in excess of 15,000 warheads. A world without nuclear weapons remains a distant dream.

Action is needed to carve out the future. In this regard, there are particularly high expectations for the role of Japan, which experienced the ravages of atomic bombings.

But the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are increasingly suspicious of the central government’s intentions. In their view, the government seems to be obstructing the global trend for trying to eradicate nuclear weaponry.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who accompanied Obama during his Hiroshima visit, pledged that he would “continue to make incessant efforts” toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons.

But what precisely is he determined to do, we wonder. The key question here is that of a concrete vision.

TOKYO EMBARRASSED BY TALK OF ‘NO FIRST USE’

The Washington Post reported last month that the Obama administration is considering changes in its nuclear policy.

Notably, a declaration of “no first use” is reportedly being weighed as an option. The term refers to a country’s pledge that it will not be the first to use nuclear arms unless it comes under nuclear attack from another nation. China and India, among the world’s nuclear weapon states, have adopted that policy.

No first use” is expected to significantly reduce the role of nuclear arms in security policy. It is also believed to be highly effective in urging other nuclear weapon states to engage in nuclear disarmament.

Ten U.S. Democratic senators have called on Obama to declare “no first use.” The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have sent a letter to Obama to express their support for the potential nuclear policy changes, saying such moves would “mark an important step toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons.”

But Tokyo appears to be embarrassed by this. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said only that Japan and the United States “should remain closely in touch” over the matter. When the Obama administration reviewed its nuclear policy in 2010, it stopped short of declaring “no first use” out of consideration for Japan and other U.S. allies.

At the United Nations, meantime, there is growing momentum to outlaw nuclear arms, which are inhumane weapons, under international law.

A U.N. working group, which has been discussing the matter since February in Switzerland, is holding its final session this month. The working group’s chairman has worked out a draft report that says, “A majority of States expressed support for the commencement of negotiations … in 2017.”

Japan is one country that is not part of that “majority of States.” Tokyo has reiterated at the working group’s sessions that the time is not ripe for declaring nuclear weapons illegal in view of the current security climate.

Seventy-one years after the A-bombings, the very country that suffered the nuclear attacks is trying to block the trend for nuclear disarmament.

PERSISTENT DEPENDENCE ON NUCLEAR UMBRELLA

The backdrop here is Japan’s dependence on the “nuclear umbrella,” under which it relies on the nuclear arsenal of the United States to deter attacks from other countries.

Tokyo believes Japan must stay under the nuclear umbrella, not the least because it has to face up to China, which is pursuing a rapid military buildup, and to North Korea, which has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests and test-firings of missiles.

No approval can be given to a “no first use” policy and a prospective treaty to ban nuclear weapons, both of which would erode the deterrent potential of the nuclear umbrella, according to Tokyo’s position.

Let us remember, however, that nuclear deterrence theory is a relic of the Cold War period. The government of Japan has not ruled out a possible use of nuclear weapons by the United States. That is broadly at odds with the sentiment of the Japanese public, which does not want a repeat of the ravages of a nuclear attack.

As long as deterrence theory is adhered to, other nuclear weapon states will also stick to their reliance on nuclear arsenals, which means the risk of a nuclear war would never diminish.

It goes without saying that the security climate should be taken into account from a tough viewpoint. Many experts believe, however, that conventional war potential–basically that of Japan and the United States–alone is functioning as a sufficient deterrent on North Korea and China.

We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without (nuclear weapons),” Obama said in his Hiroshima address.

Kazumi Matsui, the mayor of Hiroshima, cited that passage in his Aug. 6 Peace Declaration, and added, “We need to fill our policymakers with the passion to … create a security system based on trust and dialogue.”

Courage and passion: These qualities are probably expected from the government of Japan more than anything else. Tokyo should start striving to seek a security policy that does not rely on the nuclear umbrella and begin holding talks with Washington to achieve that goal.

Abe has attended the peace ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki every year. He has also had opportunities to hold dialogue with representatives of A-bomb survivors.

But the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki strongly distrust Abe. The prime minister has not only rushed through policies that undermine the pacifist principles of the Constitution, such as lifting Japan’s self-imposed ban on the right to exercise collective self-defense and enacting new security legislation. He has been less than willing to listen to earnest pleas. In 2014, for example, he used the phrase, “It’s a matter of opinion,” to dismiss concerns expressed by an A-bomb survivor.

POIGNANT CALLS FROM A-BOMBED CITIES

The Nagasaki Peace Declaration to be released Aug. 9 is expected to include, for the first time in two years, a demand for enacting a law to set down Japan’s three non-nuclear principles–not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction into Japan, of nuclear weapons.

Sumiteru Taniguchi, an 87-year-old A-bomb survivor, strongly called, during a drafting committee meeting, for the inclusion of that passage.

Those who never experienced that abominable war are trying to have the (pacifist) Constitution amended,” Taniguchi said. “As a survivor of the A-bomb, I have to continue calling out loud as long as I am alive.”

Poignant calls from the A-bombed cities represent the starting point of efforts to realize a world without nuclear arms. If Abe wishes, as he says he does, to lead initiatives to have nuclear weapons abolished, the first thing he should do is to face up in earnest to the calls of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and seek out a way to go hand in hand with them.

http://www.newsjs.com/url.php?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.asahi.com%2Fajw%2Farticles%2FAJ201608060027.html

August 6, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment