The Key to a World without Nuclear Weapons

Hiroshima A-bomb survivor calls for nuclear ban at U.N. headquarters

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- On June 19, Toshiko Tanaka, 78, an A-bomb survivor and resident of Higashi Ward, Hiroshima, shared her A-bomb account of 72 years ago at an event organized by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at United Nations headquarters in New York. As discussions take place at the U.N. to craft a treaty that would outlaw nuclear arms, Ms. Tanaka called for support from the world’s nations to establish this agreement.

Ms. Tanaka embarked on a voyage organized by Peace Boat, a Tokyo-based NGO, this past April before arriving in New York to join the conference. During this worldwide voyage, the participating survivors visited many places and shared their A-bomb accounts. Before Ms. Tanaka endured the Hiroshima bombing at the age of 6, she had attended a kindergarten in the former Nakajima district (now the location of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park). The area was turned into ruins, and her classmates were killed, she said. She stressed that calling for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons is the duty of A-bomb survivors. Members of antinuclear groups from across the globe listened to her speech.

On the same day, participants in the negotiations began discussing how to get nuclear nations involved in the treaty. South Africa proposed a revision which would allow the nuclear weapon states to participate in the treaty while possessing their nuclear weapons under an obligation to abandon them within a specific time frame. This proposal says that non-nuclear states which are dependent on the “nuclear umbrella” could also be given a period of time to break their dependence on nuclear weapons, while joining the treaty. Mexico and other countries responded favorably to the proposal.

Masao Tomonaga, 74, the honorary director of the Japanese Red Cross Nagasaki Genbaku Hospital, was given the opportunity to speak for NGOs. He said it is essential that the nuclear powers and Japan participate in the treaty. He expressed his hopes that the wisdom of the human race would be able to encourage these nations to join the agreement. Masako Wada, 73, the assistant secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers Organizations, welcomed the fact that the word “hibakusha” (A-bomb survivor) has been included in the preamble of the draft of the treaty.

(Originally published on June 21, 2017)