HIROSHIMA – Uighur residents in Japan and their support organization have been campaigning to raise awareness about nuclear tests conducted by China in the country’s northwestern Uighur autonomous region, saying they have been harmful to people’s health.
On Aug. 6, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city of Hiroshima by the United States, some residents and supporters distributed leaflets to visitors of the Peace Memorial Park in the city’s Naka Ward.
Ilham Mahmut, the 42-year-old leader of the Japan Uyghur Association, said that since the Chinese government claims it does not conduct research (in the area), it remains unknown what exactly has been taking place. Ilham said the group would like to step up its campaign in Hiroshima to press authorities to shed light on what has been happening.
According to the association and other sources, a nuclear test site is located in a desert area in Lop Nur in the eastern region of the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region.
The Beijing government is believed to have conducted a total of 45 blasts between 1964 and 1996. While no authoritative data have been compiled, there have been reports of birth defects and people contracting leukemia. One study said more than 1 million people have been adversely affected by radioactive fallout.
“In around 1989 and 1990, once or twice a year, the sky darkened and pillows of sand and smoke grew, making me realize they were conducting nuclear tests,” a Uighur man in his 40s living in Hiroshima Prefecture told Kyodo News.
But “residents didn’t care because they don’t know about them. I went to the (Hiroshima) atomic bombing museum and learned for the first time that they could have an impact on human bodies.”
The museum has exhibits about the 1945 bombing and how it affected people in the city.
Roos to pay respects
U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos said Wednesday that he will pay his respects to all World War II victims when he becomes the first U.S. envoy to attend the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony on Thursday.
“My goal . . . is to pay respect to all the victims of World War II and as well as to advance President (Barack) Obama’s goal on elimination of nuclear weapons,” Roos told reporters in the city of Fukuoka.
The annual Nagasaki ceremony will mark the 67th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing, which came three days after an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. An estimated 70,000 people eventually died as a result of the Nagasaki bombing.
Roos missed the Nagasaki event when he first attended the Hiroshima ceremony in 2010.
Nagasaki health study
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bombing remain at high risk of developing mental illnesses 67 years on, even if their physical health appears robust, a study by a government institution said.
The research, conducted by the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry in Tokyo, re-examined the findings of a 2001 study on about 350 survivors who were within a 12-km radius of ground zero on Aug. 9, 1945, and who were not considered to have suffered any physical effects of radiation exposure.
The center examined whether the subjects had experienced any psychological problems, including depression, and deemed about 75 percent to be at high risk. The center’s researchers believe their findings corroborate hypotheses that fear radiation-related diseases inflict long-term trauma on victims.