A-bomb survivors and researchers react to “Hiroshima Report” on nuclear arms reduction

by Kenichiro Nozaki, Staff Writer

On April 11, the Hiroshima prefectural government released the “Hiroshima Report,” in which the efforts being made by a number of nations with regard to nuclear arms reduction and nuclear non-proliferation are graded from the perspective of the A-bombed city of Hiroshima. This “score card” also seeks to raise the awareness of people around the world to the issue of nuclear weapons. Some A-bomb survivors and researchers praised the prefecture’s effort, agreeing that the report will heighten awareness toward nuclear arms reduction and saying that it clarifies the issues at stake. Others, however, voiced concerns about the standards used to perform the assessment.

Sunao Tsuboi, director of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, expressed appreciation, saying, “The fact that the report will raise awareness of nuclear disarmament issues has great significance.” But he also criticized the standards used in the evaluation, given that the United States received positive marks despite conducting a series of subcritical and “new type” nuclear tests, to which Hiroshima has lodged protests. “The report doesn’t represent the survivors’ feelings,” Mr. Tsuboi said.

Nobuo Kazashi, a professor at Kobe University’s Graduate School of Humanities and the director of the “NO DU Hiroshima Project,” a citizens’ group opposed to nuclear weapons, welcomed the prefecture’s effort. Professor Kazashi, whose field is philosophy, commented, “This is an effort to identify problems by looking at international conditions surrounding nuclear weapons from multiple points of view.” However, referring to the fact that Japan was given the highest score among the non-nuclear states in terms of nuclear arms reduction, while relying on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, he said, “Japan’s score is too generous. It should have received a more critical assessment.”

Noriko Sado, an associate professor at Hiroshima Shudo University and an expert on international security, commented, “I support the idea that non-nuclear states have a role to play. I would like the evaluation criteria to include whether these nations are exerting pressure on the nuclear weapon states to advance nuclear arms reduction.”

Satoshi Hirose, vice director of the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition at Nagasaki University, said that the report was too difficult for ordinary citizens to understand. An expert on international organizations, Mr. Hirose suggested that the report be written in “plain, reader-friendly language.”

The Hiroshima Report was issued as part of the prefecture’s “Hiroshima for Global Peace” plan. The prefecture will compile a second report during this fiscal year, rating more countries and expanding the number of evaluation items. Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki released the report at a press conference and said, “By continuing to conduct these evaluations, I hope the nations of the world will be encouraged to strengthen their efforts. Our future evaluations will reflect the various views and responses we receive.”

How will such reports, developed over time, contribute to the abolition of nuclear weapons? The true value of this unprecedented effort by a prefectural government remains to be seen.


“Hiroshima for Global Peace” Plan
The “Hiroshima for Global Peace” plan was crafted by the Hiroshima prefectural government in 2011 based on opinions offered by experts in and out of Japan. The pillars of the plan involve making contributions toward the elimination of nuclear weapons and amassing research in the field of nuclear disarmament. Specific measures include producing the “Hiroshima Report,” organizing a conference for nations to discuss nuclear disarmament, and training human resources dedicated to peace-building activities.

(Originally published on April 12, 2013)