The Japanese city of Nagasaki has remembered those killed by the second atom bomb dropped by the US in 1945. A minute of silence was observed on Monday to commemorate the moment when the bomb wiped out most of the city.
Tens of thousands of people were incinerated instantly as the bomb nicknamed “Fat Man” buried the city under an explosion, with many more dying from diseases linked to radiation ever since.
Those who survived the attack say it was unjustifiably cruel and insist on a universal ban on nuclear weapons.
Sixty-five years ago Sumiteru Taniguchi was enjoying a simple morning bicycle ride when, in a tragic instant, his life changed forever.
“I was thrown to the ground and I heard an ear-piercing sound,” Sumiteru recalled. “I thought I had been killed, but I encouraged myself not to die, that it was important to go on living.”
At first Sumiteru noticed his bicycle had been twisted and bent out of shape, but as he started to move, he began to realize the severity of his own condition.
“On my left arm and shoulder all my skin was dripping off and I had severe burns on my body,” he said.
Eleven-year-old Yoshiko Yamakawa was at home with his twin brother, just two kilometers from the blast center at 11:02 on that fateful morning.
“At 11:02, I saw the flash of light and dove to the floor to cover my head, eyes and ears. There was a wave and our entire house crashed over us,” said Yoshiko.
Yoshiko went with his brothers to look for their father who worked at the Mitsubishi munitions plant, close to the heart of the explosion. Yoshiko recalls seeing countless charred bodies on the way to the plant.
“While crossing the river we were drawn to a woman who was walking with what looked like a white belt or cloth trailing behind her but when we took a closer look it was her intestines coming out of her stomach. There was nothing we could do,” Yoshiko said.
Those who experienced the event share stories of unimaginable horror, but what they still did not know at the moment – something no less troubling – was how long-lasting the residual effects of the radiation would be.
“We thought the radiation would decrease over time, but we have found that instances of cancer and radiation sicknesses have been increasing with A-bomb survivors,” said Dr. Masao Tomonaga, Director of the Nagasaki Red Cross Hospital. “It has lasted their entire lifetime. Sixty-five years and it is still going.”
Sumiteru Taniguchi has had continuous surgeries throughout his life to remove tumors on his back caused by the radiation. Today he declares the war did not end in 1945, but that its effects continue to this day. Even though Yoshiko Yamakawa was not as severely injured initially, as an adult he has endured liver disease and two types of cancer attributed to the bomb, not to mention the psychological damage.
“The atomic bomb was extremely cruel,” said Yoshiko. “America should never have dropped the bombs on human beings. The tests in New Mexico should have been the end of nuclear weapons once the full power of these weapons was known.”
“People use the word deterrent, but I do not believe that human beings can co-exist with nuclear arsenals,” said Sumiteru.
This is the main reason why the A-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been pushing for peace and complete global nuclear disarmament.
Labour MP and Chair of the All Party Group on Global Security and Non-Proliferation Tony Lloyd believes there is still a threat of nuclear strikes around the world, and it should be taken very seriously.
“If you look at the history of the post-nuclear age, the reality is this – the world has been lucky that we didn't have more nuclear explosions. Nuclear accidents can take place even at this stage, at any point of time,” Lloyd told RT.
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