A-bomb survivors make direct demand of Eminent Persons meeting to carry out discussions based on understanding of A-bombing tragedy

by Fumiyasu Miyano and Yohei Yamamoto, Staff Writers

On the initial day of the International Group of Eminent Persons meeting, which opened in Hiroshima City on December 10, A-bomb survivors and other attendees asked that the discussions be rooted in the tragedy of the atomic bombing. The survivors and others met face-to-face with the group members from Japan and overseas, described their extraordinary experiences in the bombing, and called on the members to come up with proposals that would lead to the timely elimination of nuclear weapons. The visiting participants also called on the group to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which is supported broadly by non-nuclear nations.

Hiroshi Harada, 83, an A-bomb survivor and former director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, located in the city’s centrally located Naka Ward, faced the group members. “Why do we call for the abolition of nuclear weapons? Our A-bombing experiences are the origin of that demand,” Mr. Harada said. “We want you to hold your discussions, after a tour of the Peace Memorial Museum and listening to survivor testimonies, with the awareness that nuclear weapons should never again be used.”

The talk with survivors, lasting about one hour in a room at a hotel in Hiroshima’s Minami Ward that served as the group’s first meeting venue, was open to the media. Eighteen A-bomb survivors and representatives of civic groups were in attendance. The 12 group members, while nodding and taking notes, listened carefully to the visiting representatives.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 80, co-chair of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) who also serves as chair of one of the local Hiroshima Hidankyo organizations, participated in the session. “Please imagine the scene in which a B29 bomber flies overhead and drops the atomic bomb.” Sueichi Kido, 82, secretary-general of Nihon Hidankyo who experienced the atomic bombing in Nagasaki, touched on the TPNW and warned that “nuclear weapons have not been able to eliminate war. Nuclear deterrence is a deception.” Tomoko Watanabe, 69, executive director of a local NPO, asked the members, “Do you think nuclear weapons and humankind can coexist?”

Questions raised by the group members included about how A-bombing experiences are being passed on across generations and how the civic groups can overcome the gap between their thinking and Japan’s reliance on nuclear weapons for its own security.

After the session ended, Kunihiko Sakuma, 78, chair of the other Hiroshima Hidankyo, expressed his expectations vis-à-vis the group. “I want them to come up with proposals that can push Japan’s national government to ratify the TPNW and abolish nuclear weapons.” Teruko Yahata, 85, a resident of the area of Fuchu-cho who shared her A-bombing experience with the group members, said, “Mine may be one small voice of an A-bomb survivor, but I want my testimony to be utilized in the discussions aimed at the abolition of nuclear weapons.”

(Originally published on December 12, 2022)