Citizens take part in effort to abolish nuclear weapons: NPDI ministerial meeting opens

Hiroshima University professor emeritus gives lecture: Foreign ministers welcomed to Hiroshima

by Aya Kano, Staff Writer

Citizen-oriented events being held in conjunction with the ministerial meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) got underway in Hiroshima on April 11. At a study session conducted by non-profit organizations, an expert outlined the inhumanity of nuclear weapons from a medical standpoint. Groups from the public and private sector welcomed the foreign ministers of participating nations to Hiroshima, where lively debate on the issues is expected.

Nanao Kamada, professor emeritus at Hiroshima University and an expert in the medical care of atomic bomb survivors, delivered a lecture to an audience of about 100 at the Hiroshima City Plaza for Town Development through Citizen Exchange in the city center. He said that nuclear weapons are inhumane because “they lead to physical, mental and societal suffering.” In addition to cancer and keloid scars, nuclear weapons cause serious trauma, including anxiety about genetic effects and guilt over having survived, the professor said.

Prof. Kamada also described the lives of several patients who were within 1 km of the hypocenter at the time of the atomic bombing and who lost family members and suffered from ill health and poverty. “When you look at the lives of the survivors over time, you see how inhumane nuclear weapons are,” he said. Atsuko Akamatsu, 48, a resident of Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture, said, “I knew about the destruction caused by the atomic bombing, but this was my first time to learn of the situations of survivors who are still suffering in all sorts of ways.”

Ministers who were slated to attend the meeting began arriving at JR Hiroshima Station in the morning. Members of the council that is sponsoring the meeting, which comprises various entities including Hiroshima Prefecture, the City of Hiroshima, and the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry, put up a banner saying: “Welcome to Hiroshima” and greeted the ministers, waving small flags of their nations.

(Originally published on April 12, 2014)