U.S. subcritical nuclear test sparks anger and disappointment in Hiroshima

by Michiko Tanaka and Takashi Takekawa, Staff Writers

It was learned on December 7 that the United States has conducted another subcritical nuclear experiment, the first since February 2011. The U.S. test comes only one month after President Barack Obama, who has advocated “a world without nuclear weapons,” was reelected. Anger and disappointment are being voiced in Hiroshima.

On the evening of December 7, an event was held to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the designation of the A-bomb Dome as a World Heritage site. The U.S. test stirred a storm of protest from participants of the event held in front of the dome in the heart of the city.

“The dome, without saying a word, is appealing for the elimination of nuclear weapons,” said Sunao Tsuboi, chairman of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hidankyo). About 70 people attending the event criticized the nuclear test as spurning the international community’s desire for peace. It was decided that a letter of protest to Mr. Obama will be composed and sent to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the other faction of Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, chaired by Kazushi Kaneko, along with the Hiroshima chapter of the Japan Council Against A- and H-bombs (Gensuikyo), faxed a joint letter of protest to the U.S. Embassy on December 7. Speaking in strong tones, Yukio Yoshioka, vice chairman of the A-bomb sufferers’ organization, said, “President Obama, who champions a world without nuclear weapons, is ruining the momentum toward a nuclear-free world. He has been a continuous disappointment to us.”

Haruko Moritaki, 73, co-chair of the Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, commented, “America’s security policy is still based on the idea of nuclear deterrence. The Japanese government should reconsider its dependence on the nuclear umbrella.”

The national organizations of Hidankyo and Gensuikyo have sent letters of protest to President Obama via the U.S. Embassy, urging the President to stop conducting any type of nuclear test. In its letter, Hidankyo maintained that A-bomb survivors find such tests, designed to intimidate rivals, thoroughly unacceptable. Gensuikyo’s letter argues that U.S. calls for other nations to abandon nuclear arms are unconvincing when it continues to carry out nuclear tests.

Peace Watch Tower reset to protest U.S. nuclear test

by Daisuke Yamamoto, Staff Writer

Following a subcritical nuclear test conducted by the United States, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum reset the “Peace Watch Tower” on December 7. This clock, which stands in the lobby of the museum, displays the number of days since the world’s last nuclear test. The number on the clock was reset from 102 to 2.

Koichiro Maeda, director of the museum, changed the number on the digital display using a remote control. He commented, “The nuclear test is an expression of the U.S. will to continue possessing nuclear weapons. Japan should be united in calling for the realization of a nuclear-weapon-free world.”

The clock was reset for the first time since September 24, 2012, when it was learned that the United States had conducted a new type of nuclear test to study the effects of nuclear weapons. This is the 17th time the clock has been reset since it was installed in August 2001.

(Originally published on December 8, 2012)