Participants at Bikini Day rally vow to seek nuclear abolition

by Yoko Yamamoto, Staff Writer

On March 1, which marks the 59th anniversary of the day a tuna fishing boat from Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, called the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (The Lucky Dragon No. 5) was exposed to radioactive fallout from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test conducted at the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) held a Bikini Day rally in the city. The participants vowed to strengthen their efforts in anticipation of the next review conference for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to take place in 2015, and their solidarity with the movement expressing opposition to nuclear energy.

Organized by the group’s local executive committee and other entities, the rally was attended by about 1,700 people. Shiro Kawamoto, the chair of an association in Shizuoka Prefecture which lends support to the sufferers of nuclear testing, shared the development that last year more than 30 nations released a joint statement which urged the world to outlaw nuclear weapons. Mr. Kawamoto stressed, “The world is calling for nuclear weapons to be abolished. The Japanese government must take the lead in this effort.”

Matashichi Oishi, 79, a former crew member of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru, raised the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant, and pointed out, “Internal exposure to radiation is now drawing attention. But in the Bikini incident, a number of fishermen who were exposed to radiation were left untreated.” Kenneth Kedi, a lawmaker from the Marshall Islands, which lay in the vicinity of the nuclear test, testified, “After the test, the radioactive fallout it produced fell like snow, depriving many islanders of their land, their health, and their future.”

Antinuclear activists from the United States, South Korea, and Guam (a U.S. territory) also made such appeals as “We should join hands for the abolition of nuclear weapons” and “We hope that the efforts made by people in Japan will help create a new vision at the NPT review conference.”

On the same day, at the Kotokuin Temple in Yaizu, where the grave of Aikichi Kuboyama is located, Gensuikyo and the Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs (Gensuikin) held memorial services, in turn. Mr. Kuboyama, a crew member of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru, was exposed to the radioactive fallout and died as a result.

(Originally published on March 2, 2013)