Sixty-one years ago this past August the US military dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whose citizens became history’s first nuclear war victims. These bombs killed many people, with the dead numbering about 140,000 at Hiroshima and about 70,000 at Nagasaki. As of last year the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing death toll reached about 380,000.
Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) are now engaged in a class-action lawsuit against the Japanese government over support for Hibakusha. They claim that the Japanese government has underestimated damage from the bombings, with US cooperation, and that it has also refused medical care assistance to Hibakusha who were 2km (1.2 mile) or farther from the blast center, as well as to those exposed to radioactive fallout.
The rate of Hibakusha certified to have bombing-induced illnesses and receiving medical care assistance is a mere eight out of 1,000. This class-action lawsuit does not seek only improvements in the government’s help for Hibakusha. It is also an attempt to expose the true results of bombing damage assessment performed by the Japanese and US governments, and to probe the issues of low-dose radiation exposure and internal exposure, which have been ignored. It is also a struggle to cross-examine the Japanese government’s nuclear policy, which, despite Japan’s status as a victim of nuclear weapons, sanctions President Bush’s preemptive-strike nuclear attack strategy.
Hibakusha are now on the average more than 73 years old. As living witnesses who lived through nuclear hell, the Hibakusha have continued calling emphatically for "never again allowing the use of nuclear weapons". They have predicted that when humanity no longer listens to this impassioned appeal, the hell of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will happen again, and humanity will destroy itself in nuclear war. Even now humanity is surrounded by about 30,000 nuclear weapons that are far more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Earth is heading toward disaster. What is more, since 9/11 the world is awash in chaos, hate, and violence, and it appears that humanity is now walking down the path to self-destruction. Surely now is the time that the world must listen seriously to the Hibakusha appeal and
create a world without nuclear weapons as soon as possible.
The "Project 50 to Inherit Hibakusha’s Appeal" was initiated by people including the president and general secretary of Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (JALANA).
On the October 15th,2006, the first mass gathering of this project is being held at Waseda University in Tokyo. At this event, messages of support from around the world will be given to the Hibakusha. Peaceful Tomorrows’ statement is below.
To the Hibakusha:
Those of us who lost family members on September 11th, 2001, recognize the Hibakusha as soulmates in a shared journey towards a world in which terrorism, violence and war are viewed as obsolete by all members of the human family. We believe that war is terrorism, and that nuclear weapons hold a singular position as the ultimate enemy of the human spirit and the world’s future. We have been deeply touched by the committment of the Hibakusha, and by the power of their personal witness as they have traveled the world to call for an end to nuclear weapons. They demonstrate that each of us, no matter how badly we have been wronged, has the ability to break the cycle of violence and to create a better world. Today we honor the Hibakusha for their willingness to turn their grief into action for peace. We thank them for teaching us, the members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the value of steadfastness and unity of purpose. And we honor the continuation of their spirit in new generations taking up their committment to the cause of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Together, we will turn away from the threat of mutual destruction and join our brothers and sisters around the world in walking the path to real and lasting peace.
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Learn more about Nihon Hidankyo, the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, by visiting here.
You may reach the project at:
The Project 50 to Inherit Hibakusha’s Appeal
c/o The Olive Tree Law Office, 3rd Floor, Marukoh Bldg., 1-20-6
Taitoh-ku, Higashiueno, Tokyo, Japan 110-0015
Tel: +81-3-5807-3101 Fax:+81-3-3834-2406