A-bomb survivor visits Algeria to share her experience at international conference

by Toshiko Bajo, Staff Writer

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the start of nuclear testing by France, an international conference concerning the damages caused by radiation exposure will be held in Algeria, where a former test site is located, starting on February 22. Fumiko Hashizume, 79, an atomic bomb survivor residing in Tokyo, will be accompanied by others to take part in the conference and share her experience.

The conference will be hosted by the government of Algeria and is the second of its kind, after a conference in 2007. Several hundred people are expected to attend, including victims of radiation exposure, experts and peace activists. They will engage in discussions for two days on various matters such as the consequences to the human body and the environment from nuclear testing and official compensation for victims.

Ms. Hashizume experienced the atomic bombing at the Hiroshima Postal Savings building at a distance of 1.5 kilometers from the hypocenter when she was 14 years old. Taking along with her a booklet which contains her testimony in French, she will stay in Algeria until February 27 to visit a former nuclear test site after the conference. "I would like to convey the horror of nuclear weapons and the fact that the atomic bomb attacks were the worst crimes in human history," said Ms. Hashizume. Shoji Kihara, 61, a second-generation A-bomb survivor from Hiroshima, will also take part in the conference.

France conducted a total of 17 nuclear tests in the Sahara desert in Algeria between 1960 and 1966. Last December, a compensation law for the victims of radiation exposure was established.

(Originally published on February 12, 2010)