NAGASAKI, Japan—More than 30,000 people assembled in the Peace
Park here August 9 to mark the 50th anniversary of the U.S. atomic
bombing of this city. At the same time, following an antinuclear march
peace wave, 6,000 people overflowed the city’s
arena to rally against nuclear weapons. These events marked the
closing session of the 1995 World Conference Against Atomic and
Hydrogen Bombs, organized by the group Gensuikyo.
In addition, 4,000 people protested nuclear weapons at the Nagasaki
Prefecture arena at the Congress Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs,
hosted by Gensuikin, another major antinuclear group in
Japan. Hundreds of high school students attending the 22nd National
High School Peace Conference took part in a
die in at the Peace
Park. And 250 patients and staff at the Nagasaki A-Bomb Hospital held
a meeting in the building’s auditorium to mark the events.
At 11:02 a.m., the moment 50 years ago when the atomic bomb exploded 500 meters above this city’s most densely populated area, the entire city stood still for a minute of silence. Only the blare of the siren could be heard.
The U.S. bombing killed 74,000 people and wounded 75,000, overwhelmingly civilians.
The day before, the Japanese Federation of Trade Unions (Rengo)
sponsored a conference of 3,000 called
Rengo’s 1995 Nagasaki
Peace Assembly, which called for a nuclear- free world.
This year, for the first time ever, 10 Korean atomic bomb
survivors—known as hibakusha—resident in South Korea were
formally invited to attend the ceremonies sponsored by the city
government in the Peace Park. Nine had been in Hiroshima, one in
I was coerced into the war as a `Japanese.’ After
the war, as a foreigner, I was tossed out without any
compensation, one of the Koreans told the paper Nagasaki
Shimbun. Survivors who live outside Japan do not have their check ups
and bomb-related medical bills covered by the Japanese government, as
some of the resident hibakusha do.
Kim Soon Gil, now 72, was forced to work in a compulsory labor gang in
Mitsubishi’s shipyards here. He has initiated a lawsuit against
Mitsubishi and the Japanese government demanding compensation and an
We are only seeking the same treatment as the
Japanese, he told the Nagasaki Shimbun.
Shigetoshi Iwamatsu, chairperson of Gensuikin, told demonstrators,
We must take the first steps to build a new movement to launch a
nuclear-free society. Protesters at both rallies emphasized the
importance of condemning the planned nuclear tests by the French
government at the Moruroa atoll, part of the colony of French
On August 8, both Gensuikyo and Gensuikin organized six workshops to discuss different aspects of the antinuclear struggle. Delegates from France led a workshop on the French nuclear tests. Other workshops discussed the Japanese government’s role as one of the major powers responsible for World War II, the fight against nuclear weapons, building a grassroots movement, and an upcoming demonstration against the U.S. naval base at the nearby city of Sasebo.
At the Gensuikin workshop on
Japan’s responsibility for the
war and national compensation, Son I Son of the North Korean
Hibakusha Peace and Antinuclear Association said,
My older brother
was killed by the bomb and my younger brother was wounded. There needs
to be a formal apology and compensation for the anguish inflicted on
the people from abroad.
At the end of World War II, 2 million Koreans were living in Japan, including 60,000 in Nagasaki Prefecture. The Association of Korean Bomb Survivors estimated that 20,000 Koreans were exposed to the Nagasaki atomic bombing and half died as a result.
Five international delegates presented remarks to the workshop on
building a grassroots campaign at the Gensuikyo conference. In an
Workers solidarity stressed, the Nagasaki
Shimbun quoted this reporter, a member of the Socialist Workers Party
and an auto worker in the United States.
[He] said people were
killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the nuclear bombs because they
were used as guinea pigs. Internationally, working people should join
together and build a unified movement to abolish nuclear weapons,
the paper reported.
The plutonium-core atomic bomb was dropped over Nagasaki after the B-29 bomber pilots decided the top choice, Kokura, needed to be bypassed due to cloud cover. The ensuing fireball reached several million degrees, instantly killing every human and animal in the area known as Matsuyama, now the site of Hypocenter Park.
The district under the bomb, Urakami, was a congested residential area and home to the Nagasaki Medical College and a large number of schools at the time. The medical college was about 500 yards east of the hypocenter. A total of 892 teachers and students died there from the bombing, as did two-thirds of the 300 patients.
Although there were no students at the Shiroyama Primary School on that day, 1,400 of the 1,500 pupils enrolled died at home.
Washington’s atomic bomb, with a force equivalent to 21,000 metric tons of TNT, obliterated everything within two miles.
On Sept. 5, 1945, the British newspaper Daily Express carried a report about the atomic bomb damage in Hiroshima, informing the world for the first time not only that the city had been destroyed but the horrific fact that survivors of the blast were still dying of the aftereffects.
As soon as the article appeared, however, a special U.S. government
inves-tigation group announced that there were no survivors
suffering from the effects of radiation. On Sept. 19, 1945, a
code was put in force by the U.S. military command curtailing all
further news reports on the damages caused by the atomic bombs.
At the August 9 Gensuikyo rally, Senji Yamaguchi, president of the
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Sufferers Association, reminded the audience of
his continued anguish over the loss of his brothers and friends,
including those still dying from cancer.
We need to spread the
movement to abolish nuclear weapons throughout the entire world,
Yamaguchi appealed for an
unrelenting effort of young people to
unite together with people from abroad in this fight.