1． I am a lawyer born and bred in Hiroshima. I saw the flash of the atomic bomb and the mushroom cloud and witnessed the Hibakusha's struggle and fight with illness after the war.
In 2003, 58 years after the atomic bombings, the Hibakusha - old and infirm, struggling with cancer, leukemia and other illnesses - joined forces nationally to launch joint suits all over Japan for certification of atomic bomb sickness.
Hibakusha's illnesses are certified as atomic bomb-related sickness if they were caused by radiation from the atomic bombings (radiation-induced) and also require medical treatment (requiring treatment). In such cases, based on the Atomic-Bomb Survivors' Assistance Act [the Law Concerning Atomic Bomb Survivors Relief], a medical allowance of 130,000 yen (1,300 USD) per month is provided.
There is nothing unique about diseases contracted by Hibakusha compared to those of non-Hibakusha. Therefore, it is extremely difficult, indeed almost impossible for the Hibakusha to prove that their cancers etc. were contracted as a result of the atomic bombing. The Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare made decisions on the basis of the probability that their diseases were caused by the bombings. The probability was derived using a formula based on their initial radiation dose (calculated based on their distance from the hypocenter), their age, the name of their disease, their sex, and so on.
As a result, all except those exposed to high doses from the initial blast and suffering from a limited range of diseases were excluded from certification as suffering from atomic bomb-related sickness. No more than 0.84% of all Hibakusha were certified.
On that day, Hiroshima was a cloud of ashes overflowing with Hibakusha frantically trying to escape. The fallout floated about in the air and fell to the ground. People breathed radioactive dust and consumed food and water contaminated with radioactivity. People far from the hypocenter were also exposed. Others who were not in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, but entered to provide relief or to look for their relatives were exposed to the fallout. There were people who were wet by black rain that was contaminated with radioactive fallout. Thus radioactivity was taken into their bodies, exposing them to internal radiation, which attacked their internal organs. However, these people could not receive certificatioon as sufferers from atomic bomb-related sickness.
Aging Hibakusha, who had been deprived of their health and livelihood as a result of the government's mistaken war policy, wanted their conditions to be recognized as caused by the atomic bombings. They stood up to devote the last days of their lives to fighting for this recognition. Many lawyers participated in the lawsuits, believing that people's lives and health must not be treated like straw and that it was unjust to abandon the Hibakusha.
I led the legal counsel for two lawsuits representing 65 Hibakusha before the Hiroshima Court. The first group of 41 Hibakusha all won a total victory in August 2006. Of the second group of 23 Hibakusha, 21 won their case. A landmark decision awarded damages against the government for breach of procedure. I was privileged to share the joy of the Hibakusha's victory.
Up to now, Hibakusha have won twenty joint suits in succession for certification of atomic bomb-related sickness. The government and the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare were the defendants.
These judgments correctly interpreted the real nature of exposure to the atomic bombings and understood the severe impact of the bombings and the suffering and the diseases of the Hibakusha. They strongly criticized the management of a system in which the Hibakusha's conditions were callously dismissed and condemned the underestimation of the damage caused by the atomic bombings.
The judgments pointed out the illegality of the management of the approval system, saying that the Hibakusha's illnesses were not determined by their distance from the initial blast. The judgments accepted that Hibakusha were internally exposed to radiation as a result of ingesting residual radiation and fallout. They also recognized that conditions besides cancer, including liver dysfunction, were radiation-induced and that radiation-induced diseases arose not only from high dose direct exposure, but also from low dose exposure at distances greater than 2 kilometers and from exposure incurred by people who entered the city later. These lasting effects of radiation are not widely known even to this day.
We discovered through the lawsuits that medical science has not reached the stage of being able to fully explain the damage caused by radiation.
The repeated victories in court created pressure to radically change the government bureaucracy handling certification of atomic bomb-related sickness. They actually succeeded in changing the system, giving the Hibakusha courage to live and hope.
2． When I was five years and fifteen days old, at 8:13 in the morning on August 6, sixty-five years ago, the Enola Gay, which had taken off from Tinian Island, turned to the left high in the sky three kilometers from where I lived in East Hiroshima, and headed west for Hiroshima.
It was a clear summer morning. My mother, who was wearing a white apron, my two-year-old younger brother and I were in the garden. I can clearly remember where we were. My mother was cutting our hair with barber's scissors. My grandmother was weeding the freshly planted rice field beside our house with a hand-pushed weeder. I don't remember what my grandfather and younger sister were doing at the time. My father, who was a teacher, had been called up by the Imperial Japanese Navy two years before.
I still vividly recall how two and a half minutes later, at 8:15, the tranquil sky was torn apart by an intense flash of orange light like nothing in this world, followed by a thunderous sound, as if the ground had split open. To describe what they witnessed at that moment, the Hibakusha coined the term "pikadon" - "pika" for the flash and "don" for the sound - and this term has become part of the Japanese language.
Running out of my garden I looked at the western sky. There was a peculiar-shaped eerie grayish-black mushroom cloud standing still in the sky. It was a weird sight. Thirty-two kilometers away, Hiroshima seemed much closer than that.
I can still clearly remember the sight. It seemed like the end of the world. I remember the scene and all the feelings that were left in my heart: how the adults assembled, moving restlessly, worried and bewildered, with boundless anxiety about what had happened and what would become of us all.
I am not a Hibakusha, but for the 64 years of my life since then, that moment remains imprinted in the back of my mind. I cannot forget it. I remain bound by the feelings of that moment. The feelings are still alive and they still follow me.
My 33-year old uncle, who lived with us, was a construction engineer who worked for the Hiroshima prefectural office. He was exposed to the atomic bomb while directing excavation for an air raid shelter in Higashi-Senda-Machi, 1.3 kilometers from the hypocenter. Hoping to save her son, my grandmother went with some neighbors to Hiroshima in search of news of his whereabouts. By entering Hiroshima immediately after the bombing, these people became Hibakusha through their exposure to residual radiation.
It was a hot day under a blazing sun a few days after the bombing when my uncle's body was carried in, face down on a stretcher, by my grandmother and the people with her. It was a terrible sight. His back and both arms were burnt and red flesh protruded from his skin. He was groaning in agony. I couldn't bear to look at him. As long as I live I will never forget the sight of my grandparents as they stood there in silence without moving.
With his back burnt, he lay on his stomach groaning. He could hardly eat a thing and there was no medical treatment. My grandmother made him drink medicinal herb tea, dabbed oil on his wounds and picked the maggots from his back with tweezers. He escaped death, but he could not return to work and lamented the fact that he had to resign. He was taken ill and died prematurely. The cause of death was myocardial infarction. I discovered for the first time recently through the lawsuits that myocardial infarction can be induced by exposure to radiation.
Despite the tragedy and the suffering that he experienced, in the years that followed my uncle adopted a philosophical attitude and treated it as if it were no big deal. I was deeply impressed by his pure, straightforward approach to life. When I come into contact with Hibakusha, I often sense the same thing. Perhaps it is because they can't survive unless they forget their terrible past experience. But I still wonder what hidden suffering they go through. My uncle passed away quietly at the age of 52, without ever receiving a special medical allowance.
When the atomic bomb was dropped, my grandfather and two aunts on my mother's side of the family were 2.5 kilometers from the hypocenter in Minami-Machi 3-882. One of my aunts was exposed to radiation on her way to work at Harimaya-Machi 9. This beautiful aunt of mine took me to Miyajima Island, which is now a World Heritage site, but she died three years later at the young age of 30. There are not pages enough to tell the suffering of my relatives beneath the mushroom cloud.
The Hibakusha are passing away, carrying their unimaginable experiences with them in their hearts.
One atomic bomb called Little Boy suddenly, in an instant obliterated the City of Hiroshima, turning it into a vacant lot. It burnt people to death, turning them to charcoal. People were killed instantly, or maimed and tormented with illness. Within the four months to the end of 1945, 140,000 people had died. The atomic bomb wiped out the people below. According to a census carried out in 1950, 200,000 people were killed. Of the 40 lawyers living in Hiroshima at the time, 23 died. Nine judges, one probationary judicial officer and 35 court officials were killed.
Working as a lawyer in Hiroshima, which was no longer just any old place in Japan, I encountered the life-destroying reality of the bombing on a daily basis. How many times have I seen death certificates of people who died on August 6, 1945, or immediately thereafter? How many tombstones have I seen of people who died immediately after the bombing? I feel deeply the utter waste of life. It makes me churn with anger and compassion.
The atomic bomb maimed, sickened and tormented the Hibakusha - those exposed to the blast and those who entered the city afterwards. It deprived them of their possessions, wounded them psychologically and cast all sorts of shadows over them for the rest of their lives. The hell of Hiroshima in that moment: it was truly a moment of international criminality, a moment that is very difficult to forgive.
The principle of humanitarian law that military personnel and the non-military general public must be distinguished is established in international law. The dropping of the atomic bomb was in direct conflict with this principle. It was an inhuman and indiscriminate attack aimed at massacring civilians. Its illegality under international law is self-evident.
The cruel, brutal, devastating tragedy caused by this single bomb was not predicted by anyone not involved in the development of nuclear weapons. It is impossible to believe that it had anything to do with war. It was not "war".
After the nuclear test in New Mexico, the uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima was the second experiment using an atomic bomb, but this second experiment was targeted at a city to test the weapon's destructive power. It was an act of genocide, in which human beings were used as guinea pigs. The plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki was the third experiment. Masses of people, including my uncle and aunt, were used as objects of these experiments. Human beings and cities were totally destroyed in an unethical, immoral, irrational, inhumane attack.
The Hibakusha lost everything: heart, livelihood, life and all. The survivors have had to bear the burden of sickness, poverty, discrimination, radiation-induced diseases and anxiety and they are still carrying the burden. How can this be tolerated? The dropping of the atomic bombs was a manifest crime. It was absolutely illegal. We must not close our eyes to the illegality and criminality. Despite their physical suffering, the victims of the experiment conducted 65 years ago continue to demand the elimination of nuclear weapons.
3． Because it was difficult for the Hibakusha to internalize and understand their own special severe experience and communicate it to others, for a long time they remained silent. I ask people to imagine the tragedy of those Hibakusha who have remained silent, and of those who, try as they may, cannot speak.
A Hibakusha once said, "With this face no one will marry me. Because I love children, I instinctively speak to babies cuddled in their mother's arms. What do you think happens each time I do so? All babies are terrified the moment they look at my face. They cling to their mothers and scream as if someone had set a light to them. Can you imagine how miserable I feel?" "Listen. Even when I am walking in the street, men who come sidling up from behind take one look at my face, cry out and run away. Each time I just want to die. I have even tried to kill myself. Can you understand how miserable it feels? No man would even rape me." (From "The Lie of Hiroshima", by Kikujiro Fukushima, Gendaijinbun-sha.) These are hard words. They leave you speechless.
In court the Hibakusha told a part of their life history, of their illnesses and their suffering, but they did not tell everything.
The Hibakusha's life histories, with the exception of their healthy childhoods, or the prime years of their life, was a history of suffering. It was literally war for them. After the war, life itself became a desperate, lonely battle, a battle with illness and death. I ask you all to face the reality full on, with all your powers of imagination, to understand the damage caused by the atomic bomb and the feelings of the Hibakusha, whose fate was to live with pain and suffering, amidst this never-ending nightmare.
The starting point for understanding the need to abolish nuclear weapons is to imagine the destructive power of the atomic bomb, which in a moment obliterated a city of 350,000 people, and to ask why nearly half that population was dead shortly after the bombing; to imagine the impact the radiation had on human bodies and the suffering it caused, suffering that still continues today from radiation damage, lurking unseen deep inside the Hibakusha's bodies to emerge years later baring its fangs; and also to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to come in contact with resources on the atomic bombings, to hear the voices of the Hibakusha, to know the reality and thus re-experience the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We should share this understanding of "the illegality and the criminality of the atomic bombings". I am convinced that this is the first step in demanding the abolition of nuclear weapons.
4． Finally, I will touch on the NPT. It is clear that this treaty is unequal in that it discriminates between countries with nuclear weapons and those without. It can only be accepted if, in return for nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament is functioning.
I cannot believe that the requirement in Article 6 to negotiate effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament is being carried out in good faith.
In July 1996, the International Court of Justice delivered an advisory opinion concerning the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons to the UN General Assembly. Paragraph 105 (2) F of that opinion, adopted unanimously by the judges, recommended, "There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control." However, there are no signs that the nuclear weapon states will "bring to a conclusion negotiations", or that they are fulfilling their "obligation to pursue" this "in good faith".
What has happened to the "unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament" in the final document of the 2000 Review Conference?
There are now nine states with nuclear weapons, and 23,360 nuclear weapons in existence. Of these, Russia and America hold 96%. It is said these two plus France, the UK and China possess 99.55% of the total.
Now President Bush has left the scene and President Obama has taken his place. Calls for a "world without nuclear weapons" have gained momentum, but there have been no concrete developments. The nuclear weapon states are responsible for this situation. They are in breach of their responsibilities and in breach of their promises. Let me repeat, the bombing of Hiroshima was a crime. It was illegal under international law. If the use of nuclear weapons is criminal and illegal, why can't the nuclear weapon states promise not to use them?
The theory of nuclear deterrence is an obstacle. This theory says that the fear of nuclear weapons effectively deters war, but it presupposes that nuclear weapons could be used. Under the theory of nuclear deterrence, if deterrence fails, nuclear weapons will definitely be used.
This means that if your adversary does not take heed of what you say, you will use nuclear weapons to totally obliterate his cities, as was done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, take the lives of the people living in them, inflict illness and suffering, cause deep psychological wounds, destroy people's livelihoods, and do massive damage to property and human beings. I ask you, is this acceptable?
And for this they are exploiting the total destruction of the cities and people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the suffering of the Hibakusha. They justify the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the criminal and illegal act of dropping the atomic bombs, and even now use it as material for deterrence. This is absolutely unacceptable.
It is said that nuclear weapons are difficult to use, so from a military strategic perspective it should be possible to get rid of them. However, abolishing nuclear weapons also involves a shift in political and economic policy. The national politics of nuclear weapon states is bound up with the military industry, making economic factors an obstacle. If there is progress in understanding of the criminal and illegal nature of the atomic bombings, it will be possible to remove this barrier.
If you think hard about the suffering of the Hibakusha, you end up asking yourself the questions, what are human beings and what do human beings live for? You come to the problem of the dignity of human life. Abolishing nuclear weapons is a sure path to recovering the dignity of humanity.
Even people who do not know about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, if they share values that reject the negation or injury of human dignity, should be able to reject nuclear weapons. "Nuclear weapons and human beings cannot coexist!" That is the Hibakusha's response.
In order to conclude negotiations for the abolition of nuclear weapons, states must discard the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, awake from the nuclear myth, honor the duty under NPT Article 6, get rid of their own nuclear weapons and comply with the aims of the NPT. We must do everything in our power to make them do so, so that we can rid the world of nuclear weapons. We have no choice but to show them the path to the early elimination of nuclear weapons.