Representatives from Japan share A-bomb experience, state “nuclear weapons are absolute evil,” at Vienna conference

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

VIENNA—The third international conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, taking place in Vienna, Austria, held its final-day sessions on December 9. During the general discussion, Terumi Tanaka, 82, secretary general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), spoke as a delegate dispatched by the Japanese government. Mr. Tanaka said, “When you see photographs of the atomic cloud, please imagine how tens of thousands of people were killed beneath it.”

Mr. Tanaka recounted his experience of the Nagasaki atomic bombing from a location 3.2 kilometers from the hypocenter. He lost five relatives in the attack. “Every victim was denied their hopes for the future and their dignity,” he said. He went on to stress, “There is no guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used, unless we rid the world of them all,” and urged that negotiations be held on outlawing nuclear arms.

Yasuyoshi Komizo, chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, also delivered a speech. He spoke as the representative of Mayors for Peace, for which Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui serves as president. Mr. Komizo stated, “Visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and you will understand why the survivors call nuclear weapons an absolute evil.” He called on the policymakers of the world to devise security policies which do not rely on these inhumane weapons.

The representatives of the Mexican and Kenyan governments also called for outlawing nuclear weapons, but the United States argued that a practical approach to nuclear disarmament is effective.

An overview of the norms under existing international law and the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons explosions was up for discussion for the first time. During this session, international experts in law pointed out that a legal framework to ban nuclear weapons must be created, as was done for other weapons of mass destruction.

(Originally published on December 10, 2014)