SHIZUOKA – Survivors of the 1954 U.S. hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll joined forces with peace activists on Saturday to repeat demands for the elimination of nuclear arms ahead of the 50th anniversary of the deadly experiment.
On March 1, 1954, the blast from the U.S. hydrogen bomb “Bravo” irradiated residents of Rongelap Island, near Bikini Atoll, as well as the 23-strong crew of the 140-ton trawler Fukuryu Maru No. 5, also known as the Lucky Dragon, from Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, as they were fishing for tuna some 160 km east of the test site.
Surviving crew members of the Lucky Dragon and the peace campaigners are conducting a series of anniversary events, including symposiums and a civil tribunal to determine who is responsible for the irradiation incident, in the cities of Shizuoka and Yaizu, with the aim of ensuring that people do not forget the tragedy of a half-century ago.
In Shizuoka on Saturday, former fishermen, scientists and journalists took part in a symposium on current nuclear issues worldwide.
As well as the Lucky Dragon, some 850 Japanese fishing boats were confirmed to have been irradiated following the bomb test, and health authorities ordered that 457 tons of contaminated fish be dumped.
The Bravo hydrogen bomb was 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
But unlike atomic-bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese government has not recognized the fishermen of the Lucky Dragon as victims of a nuclear bomb and has continued to exclude them from relief measures under Japanese law.
‘Bravo’ photo exhibit
WAKAYAMA (Kyodo) The town of Koza, Wakayama Prefecture, said Saturday that it will hold a two-week exhibition of photos beginning Monday to mark the 50th anniversary of the irradiation of a Japanese fishing ship by a U.S. hydrogen bomb test near Bikini Atoll in 1954.
The Fukuryu Maru No. 5, also known as the Lucky Dragon, was built in 1947 at a Koza shipyard as the Kotoshiro Maru No. 7 to catch bonito. It was transformed into a tuna-fishing vessel four years later.
The exhibition will include pictures of the ship under construction and the tools used to build it.