Viewpoint by Wada Masako
Ms Wada Masako is Assistant Secretary-General of the Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo). Following are extensive extracts from the text of her presentation at the UN General Assembly on August 5 as part of the 2022 NPT Review Conference.
NEW YORK (IDN) — I was a one- and ten-months old baby when Nagasaki was devastated by the atomic bomb. My house was located 2.9 kilometres away from the blast centre. Thanks to the mountains surrounding the central part of Nagasaki City, which somewhat shielded my house from the direct impact of the bomb, I have survived to this day.
I don't remember anything about that time. My mother used to tell her story over and over again. [2022-08-11]
On the mountain path, she saw a pile of people escaping from fires near the blast centre like ants moving down over the mountain toward our area. They all looked brown, their scantily clad bodies burnt all over, their hair matted with blood, and they stood on end like horns.
The empty lot next to our house became a cremation ground, where dead bodies collected by garbage carts were brought in and incinerated day after day. My mother said that everyone soon became numb to the growing number of corpses and even the stench from burning bodies. What is human dignity? Humans are not created to be treated like this.
Seventy-seven years have passed since America's first use of a nuclear weapon. The average age of the surviving Hibakusha has reached 85. Every year about 9000 Hibakusha pass away. In the meantime, there will be no A-bomb Hibakusha. But, before that, the world may encounter new Hibakusha by using the third nuclear weapon, which will have the same suffering that the Hibakusha have gone through.
Their pain and suffering are deep and continue: the deaths of loved ones and survivors’ guilt, the scenes, sounds and smells of that time etched in their memory: diseases of unknown cause, economic difficulty; prejudice and discrimination; so many dreams given up. All these difficulties forced those under the mushroom cloud on that day to die or survive as Hibakusha.
With the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017, Hibakusha were overjoyed and felt that a heavy and rusty gate we had been pounding on for many years began to open. We finally saw a ray of light. However, what we found the slightly opened gate was the huge military spending and new weapons that are being developed every day
> Ms Wada Masak. Credit: Akira Kawasaki
What has the world done in the 52 years since the NPT entered force?
Non-nuclear weapon states and Hibakusha were frustrated by the nuclear states' neglect of their obligation to implement the NPT. The nuclear-armed states and their allies should recognise how, due to their insincerity and arrogance, the entire human race has been brought to the brink of nuclear war.
In Nihon Hidankyo’s founding statement “Message to the World” of 1956, we declared our pledge "to save humanity from its crisis through the lessons learned from our experiences, while at the same time saving ourselves".
Nuclear weapons are inhuman weapons that will bring indiscriminate and widespread damage to the victims from the blast, the heat rays and radiation, and aftereffects that last for many years. Hibakusha know more than anyone else that if nuclear weapons are used for the third time, there will no longer be anyone left alive who will happily observe the consequences.
How many of you involved in politics have met Hibakusha and listened to their A-bomb testimonies? Please learn the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. We appeal to the conscience and wisdom of each of you who represent your country, including Japan, to sincerely discuss and recommit yourselves in this Review Conference to implement the "unequivocal undertaking" to eliminate nuclear arsenals, which was reconfirmed in 2010.
Nuclear weapons were made by men and used by men. So, it is also up to us humans to abolish them by our wisdom, public conscience and responsibility.
No more Hibakusha! [IDN-InDepthNews – 12 August 2022]
Photo: Ms Wada Masako addressed the UN General Assembly at the UN General Assembly on August 5 as part of the 2022 NPT Review Conference. Credit: Akira Kawasaki.