Hiroshima survivors’ legacy persists




Events are being held around the world this Friday to mark the 65th anniversary
of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.

The scale of the disaster that overtook the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
in August 1945 is still difficult to fathom. The figures of 170,000-246,000
killed outright and thousands affected by the ongoing, insidious legacy of the
cancers and genetic mutations passed through the generations do not really do
justice to the actual experience of what it was like in the cities on the days
of their destruction.

For this we turn to the testimonies of those who were there and who, in many
cases, have devoted their lives to telling their stories and demanding global
peace and the elimination of these weapons of mass murder.

Their testimonies are horrific and draw a picture of unspeakable human suffering
that have a profound, personal impact. They include the stories of Taniguci
Sumiteru, Sakue Shimohira and the streetcar survivors of Hiroshima.

Greenpeace is marking this year’s anniversary, with our Israeli office using the
occasion both to remember the suffering of the victims of the atomic bombings
and to push for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

Depressingly, this anniversary finds the world still menaced by around 22,000
nuclear warheads. Global human annihilation remains only 15 minutes away in the
event of an errant flock of geese or missile test… again being mistaken for an
incoming nuclear strike.

This as global nuclear disarmament efforts are being undermined by the pressing
proliferation risks of civil nuclear programs, fired by countries pushing
technology for building new reactors all over the world.

It is impossible to ring-fence energy and research reactors in a manner that
ensures that technologies and materials are not transferred to weapons programs
and the existing non-proliferation regime is grossly inadequate for the task of
policing the few strictures currently in place.

This, and the persistent dangers of nuclear accidents and waste, is why
Greenpeace fights strongly both for total nuclear disarmament and the
replacement of nuclear generation by clean, cost-effective renewable energy

Streetcar survivor Eiko Taoka speaks of her one-year old son:

“He had been standing by the window and I think fragments of glass had pierced
his head. His face was a mess because of the blood flowing from his head. But
he looked at my face and smiled. His smile has remained glued in my memory.

He did not comprehend what had happened. And so he looked at me and smiled at my
face which was all bloody. I had plenty of milk which he drank all throughout
that day. I think my child sucked the poison right out of my body. And soon
after that he died. Yes, I think that he died for me.”

(This post is by Dominic Moran, Greenpeace Disarmament Analyst)


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