NEW YORK – Two Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors pressed countries participating in negotiations Monday for a first-ever treaty banning nuclear weapons to realize their dream of seeing the landmark document adopted next month.
“Nagasaki must be the last place to suffer from an atomic bomb (attack),” said Masao Tomonaga, who was 2 years old when the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, three days after the first attack destroyed Hiroshima.
Having “narrowly escaped” the blast from his home, located 2.7 kilometers from the epicenter, Tomonaga went on to become a doctor. He spent years researching the inhumanity inflicted on his patients and fellow survivors, who are known in Japanese as hibakusha.
The 74-year-old medical doctor, along with another Nagasaki survivor Masako Wada, delivered remarks as representatives of nongovernmental organizations that had been allotted speaking time.
The aim of the survivors, who are now dwindling in numbers, is to see a world free of nuclear weapons within their lifetimes.
Tomonaga said he was heartened to see how efforts of the hibakusha have paid off. Not only has the second session of the three-week conference seen serious daily discussions on each of the 14 articles, but hibakusha have been mentioned twice in the draft preamble.
Hopes are high for the treaty to be finalized by the end of the session, on July 7.
“A nuclear weapons ban treaty is essential in order to further strengthen the will of mankind,” he noted, but added that for it to become truly “effective” more countries need to sign on.
That includes the nuclear weapon states — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — which have skipped the talks. Additionally, he took aim at Japan, which operates under the nuclear umbrella of the United States, for not participating in the U.N. conference.
“Nagasaki wishes for all participating states to continue to create ‘human intellect’, through discussion on articles that contain measures to promote participation of such nuclear states while seeking the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons,” he stressed.
Wada, who is the assistant secretary general of the Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, also noted the importance of the proposed treaty and how the draft text has brought about “tremendous hope.”
Having survived the Nagasaki bomb blast as a 1-year-old, she, like others, has carried with her the desire to see “no more nuclear bomb survivors anywhere on earth.”
“The agony of the hibakusha continues. It is deep and seems never-ending,” the 73-year-old said. “The nuclear weapon is created by humans, used by humans, and therefore has to be abolished by humans.”