Friday, 7 August 2015

Atomic Apostasy

Despite the considerable coverage in the British media of the 70th anniversary commemoration of the terrible immolation of 200,000 Japanese civilians  in seconds - and total destruction of their cities - by the United States when it dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagaski on 6 and 9 August 1945 respectively,  two important issues have been overlooked

The day before over 100,000 people – including many foreigners -  gathered at the  commemoration ceremony in Hiroshima, during deliberations in a Japanese Parliament (Diet) House of Councillors panel session, Government-proposed national security legislation it emerged in testimony by Defence Minister General Nakatani that it would theoretically allow Japan to transport nuclear weapons in logistics support for foreign countries.

However, foreign minister Fumito Kishida denied the possibility regardless of legal interpretation, telling the same panel, "Given Japan's policy and stance on nuclear weapons, Japanese would never transport nuclear weapons".

The security bills are aimed at expanding the role of the SDF abroad and strengthening Japan's security alliance with the United States.

(“Security bills technically allow nuclear arms transport: minister,” Mainichi, 5 August  2015;

The next day, at the commemoration ceremony in Hiroshima, conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made no mention of the country's self-imposed "three non-nuclear principles" in his speech during a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6.

Successive Japanese prime ministers have attended memorial ceremonies in Hiroshima and given speeches since 1994. But it was the first time for a prime minister to make no mention of the "three non-nuclear principles" that ban the possession, production and import of nuclear arms. Abe had previously said Japan would stick to the three non-nuclear principles during three previous memorial ceremonies, including one in 2007 during his first stint as prime minister.

Hibaskusha (A-bomb survivors) who attended the memorial ceremony were shocked and disappointed by the fact that Abe did not touch on the three non-nuclear principles in his speech. Yuriko Kinoshita, a 70-year-old housewife in Hiroshima's Naka Ward who offered flowers at the ceremony as a representative of Hiroshima citizens, said, "Why didn't he include them? I hope this year will not become a turning point toward war." Toyoko Okamura, 74, from Hatsuka, Hiroshima Prefecture, who lost her elder brother in the atomic bombing, said, "That's too bad because I am hoping for the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons."

 (“PM Abe makes no mention of 3 non-nuclear principles in A-bomb anniversary speech,” Mainichi, 6 August  2015;

A week before the Hiroshima commemoration, it emerged from research into the atomic archives by researchers for the Mainichi Shimbun, that Robert Holmes,the director of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) an American commission established to study the effects of radiation among survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had advised that the US only should  offer treatment as a Cold War strategy - not as a humanitarian measure - in a note the commission director sent to a colleague in the US in October1954, nine years after the detonation of the atomic bombs..

According to a letter and other documents obtained by the Mainichi, on Oct. 12, 1954, Holmes, who was three months into his post in Japan, wrote to the medical sciences chief of the National Research Council, which had established the ABCC in 1947. In the note, Holmes made clear his fears of Communist powers pitting Japan's atomic bomb survivors against the US, and argued that the ABCC's role must be considered not only from a scientific perspective, but from a political standpoint as well.(emphasis added)

Holmes also said criticism of the ABCC was coming from what he termed an  “anti-American minority”, and that providing treatment to atomic bomb survivors would not only be advantageous to the Japanese people, but also encourage them to side with the U.S. in the Cold War.

Professor Susan Lindee of the  University of Pennsylvania - who specializes in the history of science -  observed that the US feared that doing so would ignite debate on the issue of US responsibility for the atomic bombings.

We are talking about people, not statistics

In a three –part series run earlier this month, Mainichi Shimbun  reported In the 1950s, Yukio Yoshioka, a Hiroshima resident who was exposed to the atomic bombing of the city, was ushered into a jeep and taken to Hijiyama, overlooking the urban district, where ABCC was based. Here he underwent a prostate test. It involved a Japanese staff member inserting a finger into his rectum which Mr Yoshioka  found extremely unpleasant.

Yoshioka, who is now 86, was exposed to the atomic bomb blast 1.7 kilometers away from the hypocentre, and had suffered major burns on his back and other parts of his body. At the ABCC, he also received a saliva test. When the test results came back a month later, he was informed that he had lung infiltration, and he was referred to a hospital in Hiroshima.

"My human rights and personality were ignored," he said.

Facing criticism that it was merely testing people but not treating them and suggestions that it was using people as guinea pigs, the ABCC struggled to find survey subjects.

Sachiko Sakamaki, 71, a resident of Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, donated the body of her father, who died from multiple types of cancer, for which she received  a letter of thanks from the ABCC, but all that was written was that an outline of the test results had been conveyed to the attending doctor, and she was never contacted afterward.

The huge amount of information collected by ABCC and other parties was taken to the United States, and used in preparation for nuclear war. The information was classified, as in the Cold War there were concerns about the Soviet Union Russia getting information easily without any experimentation of their own.

The records were returned to Japan starting in 1973. Over 25,000 items, including organ specimens and clinical records were moved to Hiroshima University and Nagasaki University.

 (“US commission director suggested treatment for A-bomb survivors as Cold War strategy,” Mainichi 30 July 2015;

(“ABCC: A-bomb survivors regret experiences in U.S. testing of radiation effects after WWII (Pt. 2),” Mainichi 1 August  2015;

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