Hiroshima citizens’ group holds event celebrating 20-year ties to radiation victims in Kazakhstan

by Luan Xiaoyu, Staff Writer

On July 7, the Hiroshima Semipalatinsk Project held an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its founding. The local citizens’ group provides assistance to radiation victims in Kazakhstan, where the former Soviet Union held many nuclear tests. The participants looked back at the group’s activities and renewed their resolve to further strengthen the cooperation between the people of Hiroshima and Kazakhstan. The event was held at Hiroshima International House in Minami Ward.

In his speech, Keiichi Sasaki, 63, the director of the group, said, “Hiroshima also suffered nuclear damage, so let us share the wish for the abolition of nuclear weapons.” He presented an outline of the group’s activities, such as providing medical assistance to radiation victims in Kazakhstan and making arrangements for students from that nation to study in Hiroshima.

Akerke Sultanova, 35, from the city of Semey (formerly Semipalatinsk), located near the nuclear test site, studied at Hiroshima Sanyo Jogakuen High School as an international student. Ms. Sultanova gave a talk and said that the nuclear tests there have had a serious impact on people’s health, resulting in increases in cancer, miscarriages, and suicide. She questioned why innocent people had to become victims and said that her questions and her anger would not go away.

One of the four panelists was Masaharu Hoshi, a professor emeritus at Hiroshima University and an expert in radiation biology and physics. He reported on research findings in internal radiation exposure and the current situation surrounding nuclear weapons.

Some 30 people took part in the event. Takeshi Yahata, the head of the Atomic Bomb Survivors Support Division of Hiroshima Prefecture, said, “It is a precious thing that this group has established a bond with the people of Kazakhstan through grassroots exchange over the past 20 years.” He added that he hopes this exchange will be sustained in the years to come.

(Originally published on July 8, 2018)