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Global alliance against nuclear weapons should expand further

18 3 0
06.08.2020

“Hiroshima was firebombed.” “It appears that (the city) has suffered slight damage.”

These passages are part of a very brief Asahi Shimbun report about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima published the following day.

It was just the beginning of the tragedy of the world’s first use of nuclear weapons. Three days later, Nagasaki was also destroyed.

The instant a tremendous flash of light cut across the sky, high levels of radiation penetrated the bodies of hundreds of thousands of people. The detonation and deafening boom were followed by various radioactive materials spreading across the city.

These toxic materials later fell as “black rain” in wide areas around ground zero.

Seventy-five years on, a local court recently handed down a landmark ruling recognizing all people exposed to the radioactive rain as hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors, eligible for a government relief program including those who were outside the areas covered by the program. But the trial still failed to clarify the geographical scope of exposure.

'DISCOVERY' OF HEALTH HAZARDS OF RADIATION

None of the people who were under the mushroom cloud on that summer day or those who entered the city immediately afterward knew the true magnitude of damage caused by an atomic bomb.

No ordinary citizen had any idea about how exposure to radiation could cause suffering over a long period of time.

It was not until 1954, nine years after the end of World War II, that the long-lasting health hazards of exposure to radiation became widely known. In that year, the United States detonated a thermonuclear bomb in a nuclear test at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

The Daigo Fukuryu Maru, a Japanese tuna fishing boat, was contaminated by radioactive fallout from the test, known in Japan as “shino hai” (deadly ash). One of the crew later died of radiation poisoning.

The incident triggered a broad protest movement against nuclear weapons in Japan. Housewives in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward and other areas led the campaign under the slogan, “We don’t want atomic-bombed tuna on our dinner........

© The Asahi Shimbun


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