Secretary-general of Nihon Hidankyo calls for international support for “Appeal of the Hibakusha”

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

NEW YORK – On May 3, an event was held at United Nations headquarters in New York, the venue for the third Preparatory Committee for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, to promote an international signature drive in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Called the “Appeal of the Hibakusha,” it calls on all nations to sign and ratify the nuclear weapons ban treaty. A-bomb survivors including Sueichi Kido, 79, the secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), spoke about the horrors of the atomic bombing and appealed to members of non-governmental organizations to help their international signature drive garner support from around the world.

In the first part of his speech, Mr. Kido shared his experience of being exposed to the atomic bomb in Nagasaki when he was 5 years old. He and his mother were at home, about two kilometers from the hypocenter, and the left side of his face was burned by the bomb’s heat rays. They stayed in an air-raid shelter for one night before they moved through the city, now strewn with burned bodies, to evacuate to the suburbs.

Mr. Kido described the state of the city, burned to ashes, by saying that “Everything was black.” He said that nuclear weapons could destroy the human race and that the signature drive was the last task he had to fulfill to help preserve a blue planet for future generations. Then Jiro Hamasumi, 73, the assistant secretary-general of Nihon Hidankyo, shared his experience, too. Asked why he persists in his efforts instead of slowing down at his advancing age, Mr. Kido said, “There are times I feel like stepping away from it all, but I can’t because I’m in this together with all the A-bomb victims.”

The event was organized by the PEAC Institute, which promotes peace education in the United States and is a supporter of the international signature drive. The head of the PEAC Institute, Rebecca Irby, 37, referred to the fact that 9.4 million people have signed the petition to support the nuclear weapons ban treaty. Considering the population of the world, she said, they want to collect at least 100 million signatures. Appealing for greater cooperation, she said that realizing the abolition of nuclear weapons, the hope of the A-bomb survivors, depends on us all.

(Originally published on May 5, 2019)