Hibakusha calls for nuke-free world at NPT

Hiroshima, Nagasaki mayors join plea at U.N. review conference

NEW YORK (Kyodo) The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and an atomic-bomb survivor called for a world without nuclear weapons at a U.N. review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on Friday, saying the tragedy of the nuclear attacks on the two cities should never be repeated.

Representing the hibakusha, Sumiteru Taniguchi, 81, recounted his experience of the Nagasaki bombing before nearly 400 people at the NPT review conference in New York.

Then 16, Taniguchi was riding a bicycle some 1.8 km north of ground zero.

“When the bomb exploded, I was burned on my entire back by the heat rays of 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius, which could have melted rocks and iron, and exposed to invisible radiation,” Taniguchi said as he showed a photo of himself after the explosion.

“The next moment I was blown away together with the bike for about 4 meters and smashed to the ground by the bomb blast,” he said. “I am not a guinea pig. I am not an exhibit. But please look at this again without averting your gaze.”

Buildings were knocked down by the blast and children who had been playing nearby were all blown away and killed, he said.

“I cannot die in peace before I witness the last nuclear warhead eliminated from the Earth,” Taniguchi said.

His speech received a standing ovation from the audience.

During the same meeting, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba called on the world to abolish nuclear weapons.

“The future will never come unless all of you, who have the power to decide, choose to immediately commence negotiations leading to a nuclear weapons-free world within a finite period of time,” Akiba said in a speech.

Noting that the average age of survivors of the atomic bombings is now over 75, Akiba said, “All that is required is the political will to rid the world of nuclear weapons within the lifetime of the hibakusha.

“Together we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can!” he said.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue criticized nuclear weapons states for ignoring the pleas of atomic-bomb survivors to eliminate nuclear arms.

“In the 65 years since the atomic bombings, nuclear-armed nations have ignored appeals for the abolishment of nuclear weapons.”

Taue pointed out that nuclear powers instead choose to pursue a security policy that relies on nuclear deterrence. Such a policy “has increased the danger of terrorist organizations and unstable governments acquiring nuclear weapons, and has brought the NPT to the brink of collapse,” he said.

“The governments of countries that rely on nuclear deterrence must sincerely reflect on this paradox,” the Nagasaki mayor said.

He welcomed the recent nuclear arms reduction accord between the United States and Russia, but said he hopes the international community “takes even greater steps forward” under the leadership of the U.N.

NPT confab begins

NEW YORK (Kyodo) A U.N. conference on reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty began substantive discussion Friday with Japan and other nonnuclear weapons states appealing for a reduction of nuclear arsenals by the five nuclear-armed states.

Akio Suda, permanent representative of Japan to the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, proposed a set of action plans to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation measures at a key committee meeting.

The actions plans, which Japan has worked out jointly with Australia, were earlier presented to the NPT review conference, which began Monday and is set to last a month.

“I am pleased to say that this package is gathering growing support of many states,” Suda said in a speech to the Main Committee I, which is in charge of such issues as the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and disarmament.