Rallies held in Yaizu and Hiroshima to mark H-bomb test

by Kohei Okata and Yoko Yamamoto, Staff Writers

A Bikini Day rally was held in Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on March 1, the 55th anniversary of the hydrogen bomb test by the United States on Bikini Atoll, located in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. As a result of this test, a Japanese fishing boat, the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (The Lucky Dragon No. 5), was exposed to nuclear fallout. In the city where the boat had been based, participants at the rally renewed their determination to promote the cause of a world free of nuclear weapons, with an eye toward the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2010.

Some 1,600 people from Japan and overseas took part in the rally, sponsored by the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs and other organizations. Shiro Kawamoto, the chairman of an association in Shizuoka Prefecture which supports nuclear sufferers, called for gathering more signatures both in Japan and abroad to reinforce the movement. He quoted the last words of the radio operator of the fishing boat, Aikichi Kuboyama, who died of radiation poisoning with the wish that he be the last victim of a nuclear bomb.

Antinuclear activists from the Marshall Islands, the United States, and other nations have stressed the importance of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, believing that the new U.S. administration, with their positive stance on nuclear disarmament, can serve as a tailwind for their campaign. They called for further cooperation with A-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Of the 23 crewmembers on board the boat when it suffered fallout from the hydrogen bomb test, after the deaths of two more men last year, only nine now survive. Matashichi Oishi, 75, one of the surviving crewmembers, is worried that memory of the incident is gradually fading. “I hope younger generations will learn about many aspects of this history to help build a more just world,” he said.

On the same day, a memorial service was held at Kotokuin Temple, where the late Aikichi Kuboyama now rests.

In Hiroshima, the Hiroshima Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs and other organizations held a rally at Peace Memorial Museum and 150 people vowed to strengthen their grassroots campaign. Akira Tashiro, senior staff writer for the Chugoku Shimbun, spoke at the rally, relating the view of former top U.S. officials who are now skeptical of nuclear deterrence. “This is a significant opportunity to move toward the abolition of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Tashiro told the audience. “The key to progress, though, lies in a substantial reduction in the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia and whether the Obama administration can ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty before the NPT review conference.”

(Originally published on March 2, 2009)

Calls for halting nuclear programs made at national assembly of antinuclear group

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

The Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs held a national assembly in Shizuoka City on the evening of March 2, one day after the 55th anniversary of Bikini Day. On March 1, 1954, the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (The Lucky Dragon No. 5), a tuna fishing boat based in Shizuoka Prefecture, was exposed to nuclear fallout from a hydrogen bomb test by the United States on Bikini Atoll. At the gathering, participants vowed to make efforts to halt all nuclear programs in order to prevent the appearance of more victims of radiation.

Before the 320 participants, Koichi Kawano, vice chair of the organization, expressed optimism that nuclear abolition may be possible if serious efforts are made at a time when some current and former officials of Western governments do not support the idea of nuclear deterrence. Also conveyed at the assembly were expectations for progress in regard to U.S. nuclear disarmament and concerns over suspected nuclear development by Iran as well as Japan’s nuclear energy policies.

Katsuhiko Ishibashi, professor emeritus at Kobe University, delivered an address on nuclear power plants and earthquakes. In connection to the expansion project of the Chubu Electric Power Company’s nuclear power plant in Hamaoka, Shizuoka Prefecture, he pointed out the possibility of a major nuclear accident if an unexpectedly powerful earthquake were to strike the area.

On March 3 in Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, the organization will hold a memorial service for Aikichi Kuboyama, one of the crewmembers of the fishing boat, who died about six months after being exposed to nuclear fallout.

(Originally published on March 3, 2009)

Related articles
Hiroshima Univ. holds pathological specimens of Fukuryu Maru crewman (March 1, 2009)
U.S. sought tissue from dead fisherman after 1954 H-bomb test (Feb. 25, 2009)
The hidden truth of the Bikini Incident (March 7, 2008)