Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki
August 5, 2015
Vanessa Griffen / The Fiji Times & Loreta Castro / The Philippine Daily Inquirer
eventy years ago, on August 6 and 9th 1945, the first atomic bombs ever used in the world, were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. These bombs were new weapons of immense power, created by splitting the atom and were developed by the United States in secrecy.
Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
The 70th Anniversary of the US Atomic Bombings
Vanessa Griffen / The Fiji Times
SUVA, Fiji (August 6, 2015) -- Seventy years ago, on August 6 and 9th 1945, the first atomic bombs ever used in the world, were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. These bombs were new weapons of immense power, created by splitting the atom and were developed by the United States in secrecy.
The bombs caused such unprecedented physical destruction and horrific human injuries that, after a second bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces and ended its war effort. The bombs are reputed to have brought the World War II to a quicker end.
The uranium bomb detonated over Hiroshima razed around 70 percent of all buildings and caused an estimated 140,000 deaths by the end of 1945. The plutonium bomb used on Nagasaki three days later, levelled 6.7 km of the city and killed 74,000 people by the end of 1945.
The ongoing sufferings from cancers, radiation-related deaths in later years, and the unspeakable impacts on human beings -- remind the world that the inhumane intent of nuclear weapons still exists and must be removed permanently.
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The hibakusha -- reminders of
ground zero of a nuclear detonation
The survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the hibakusha, lived through all the shocks of the atomic bombs that were detonated in Japan. Some have spent their lives determined to tell the world of the impacts of nuclear weapons, so that no human beings ever experience such pain again.
Setsuko Thurlow, a hibakusha representative of the bombing of Hiroshima, speaking at the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held in Vienna, Austria in December 2014 described that day:
"As a 13-year-old schoolgirl I witnessed my city of Hiroshima blinded by the flash, flattened by the hurricane-like blast, burned in the heat of 4000 degrees Celsius and contaminated by the radiation of one atomic bomb.
"A bright summer morning turned to dark twilight with smoke and dust rising in the mushroom cloud, dead and injured covering the ground, begging desperately for water and receiving no medical care at all. The spreading firestorm and the foul stench of burnt flesh filled the air."
The number of hibakusha is dwindling and now is the time, on the 70th anniversary, to act on their message: to ban nuclear weapons.
What Happened after Hiroshima --
Development of Nuclear Weapons Arsenals
After 1945, several countries followed the United States, developing nuclear weapons in the belief that possessing them was a right to their national security.
The United States, United Kingdom, Russia (former Soviet Union), France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, are 9 nuclear-armed states who now have 15,700 nuclear weapons in their possession.
The nuclear arms race during the Cold War, was based the argument of "deterrence'. The evidence now shows that the whole world cannot survive any nuclear weapons explosion, not even the nuclear states.
Controlling nuclear weapons proliferation (preventing new countries developing nuclear weapons), has proceeded without any signs of good faith by nuclear-armed states in their obligations to commit to the other objective, nuclear disarmament, which they are obliged to also proceed with, under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. There are no controls on nuclear arms and arsenals and disarmament depends on the "good faith" actions of the nine (9) nuclear-armed states.
A Growing Movement to Act on the
Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons
In 2010, The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement raised concern about nuclear weapons and their impact; citing that there was no humanitarian capability to handle a nuclear incident and no country would be able to survive untouched. The world's leading humanitarian organization warned that there was no adequate response to even a single nuclear weapon being used.
Three international Conferences on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons then significantly followed quite soon (in Norway, Mexico and Austria in 2013-2014), which showed conclusive evidence that the devastation caused by nuclear weapons is not survivable -- in the short or long term -- by any country in the world.
At the last conference in Vienna, the host country Austria, made a Pledge to support a process to ban nuclear weapons. Now called the Humanitarian Pledge, because it is supported by 113 countries (as of14 July). There is a growing international movement by the majority non-nuclear states to act now, to start a legal framework for a ban on nuclear weapons. Ten Pacific countries have also signed the Pledge.
The Pacific Islands, and Hiroshima
And Nagasaki -- A Close Connection
What does this have to do with the Pacific? A great deal.
The planes that flew with the bombs and dropped them on Hiroshima on 6th August and Nagasaki on 9th August 1945, came from Tinian Atoll in the Marianas. The United States flattened the atoll into a large airstrip.
A Pacific islander from Tinian, said to me at the first regional A.T.O.M. conference (Against Testing on Mururoa), held in Suva at USP: "I will always remember that the planes that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki came from Tinian, my country."
Pacific Islands and Nuclear Weapons Testing
-- again involved without a Voice
The Pacific Islands, after 1945, were heavily used for nuclear weapons testing by the United States, United Kingdom and France. Pacific islanders had no control over or understanding of the use of their home islands for nuclear weapons developments.
The Marshall Islands was used from 1946-1968 for atmospheric tests, although part of a United Nations Trust Territory. Bikini and Enewetak atolls' inhabitants were forced to relocate and could never return to their contaminated homelands. In 1954, the infamous "Bravo" test resulted in direct radioactive fallout on Marshallese.
France conducted nuclear testing on Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls in Tahiti from 1966-1996, for 30 years doing atmospheric and underground nuclear tests that affected the whole region, despite Pacific-wide protests. Kiritimati island was also used for tests by the United Kingdom.
Using Pacific experience globally
To ban nuclear weapons
The Pacific islands have had an extraordinary high connection with nuclear weapons, as colonies and "Trust Territories" used without consultation. Many countries were not independent and the Pacific Islands had no strong voice in international affairs.
Now, 12 Pacific Island states have representative status in the United Nations. All Pacific states can use their state vote and remain firmly involved with processes for a ban on nuclear weapons.
A growing number of states (113) have signed the Humanitarian Pledge, and want to proceed with developing a international legal framework to ban nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapons need to be banned, as all other weapons of mass destruction have been banned. No country can or should experience the effects of nuclear weapons, ever again.
We applaud the stand of a small Pacific Island country that decided to make its voice heard -- and all the Pacific can join it. The Marshall Islands has a landmark case in the International Court of Justice and the US Federal Court, calling all nuclear-weapons states to meet their NPT treaty obligations on nuclear disarmament.
FemLINKPacific is the Pacific regional representative of ICAN.
More information: www.icanw.org and www.goodbyenuk.es
Nagasaki, Hiroshima Mark Need for Nuclear Arms Ban
Loreta Castro / The Philippine Daily Inquirer
(August 4th, 2015) -- The 70th anniversary of the tragedy that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 is an important occasion for us to reflect on, especially so because of the threat that nuclear weapons continue to pose to all of humanity and to our planet.
On Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, US nuclear bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, causing 200,000 immediate casualties. For the hibakusha or those who survived the blasts, life has been extremely difficult because, as a result of the detonations, they have to battle with dreadful cancers and other illnesses, aside from the painful loss of many loved ones.
The nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed the catastrophic humanitarian impact that nuclear weapons can cause, and the 70th anniversary of the attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the "appropriate milestone" to start negotiations for a treaty that will ban nuclear weapons.
Our beloved Pope Francis recently pushed the moral argument against nuclear weapons to a new level, stating that he is not only against their use but also against their possession. Archbishop Bernedito Auza, the Holy See's ambassador to the United Nations, says: "Today there is no more argument, not even the argument of deterrence used during the Cold War, that could ‘minimally morally justify' the possession of nuclear weapons." (See http://time.com/3817021/pope-francis-nuclear-disarmament/)
Pope Francis views nuclear disarmament from the perspective of the poor instead of the position of the powerful. He wrote to the Vienna Humanitarian Conference in December 2014:
"Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations . . . . To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty.
"When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price . . . . I am convinced that the desire for peace and fraternity planted deep in the human heart will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all, to the benefit of our common home."
As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the nuclear weapons detonation on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let us call on governments to start the process toward banning those weapons that have now become far more lethal and catastrophic than those used in 1945. The Philippine government has courageously taken a leadership role in the humanitarian initiative among Asean states and, hopefully, it will be among the first, too, to call for the start of this process to ban nuclear weapons.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, NEVER AGAIN!
Loreta Castro, professor, International Studies and Education, Miriam College, and program director, Center for Peace Education (a partner organization of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons)
Message from FemLINKPacific,
a member of ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons)
The 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is a reminder for us to make a renewed effort to help humanity eliminate nuclear weapons. On the 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing, we renew our determination to Ban Nuclear Weapons. There are still 15,700 nuclear bombs held by 9 nuclear-weapon states.
Less than 100 nuclear bombs would be sufficient to cause millions of deaths instantly, with millions dying slowly in unbearable suffering, famine, disease and no humanitarian aid. We must work to PREVENT future Hiroshimas.
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