The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and unimaginable human suffering. The horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made it clear that, for humanity’s survival, nuclear weapons should never again be used. However, approximately 14,000 nuclear weapons remain in global arsenals—enough to destroy our world many times over. The world is indebted to the Hibakusha, those who survived the atomic bombings of August 1945, for their courage and moral leadership in the universal fight against the nuclear threat. The United Nations is committed to ensuring the testimonies of the Hibakusha pass to each new generation. The Hibakusha are a living reminder that nuclear weapons pose an existential threat and that the only guarantee against their use is their total elimination. This goal continues to be the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations, as it has been since the first resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1946. As we approach the Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, I urge world leaders to draw on the spirit of the Hibakusha by putting aside their differences and taking bold steps towards achieving the collective goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons. Stop Nuclear Weapons “The existential threat that nuclear weapons pose to humanity must motivate us to accomplish new and decisive action leading to their total elimination. We owe this to the Hibakusha—the survivors of nuclear war—and to our planet.” —UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
Three Quarters of a Century After Hiroshima and Nagasaki The Hibakusha — Brave Survivors Working for a Nuclear-Free World Give back my father, give back my mother; Give grandpa back, grandma back; Give me my sons and daughters back. Give me back myself. Give back the human race. As long as this life lasts, this life, Give back peace That will never end. From the Preface of Atomic Bomb Poetry Collection by Sankichi Toge. Translated by Miyao Ohara. Mushroom cloud over Hiroshima. Photograph by U.S. Army. Courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
Cremation Site Nagasaki I had never before witnessed the obvious military influence on the young until I watched this boy bring his dead brother to a cremation site. Every kid I knew in America would not have been able to cope like this young boy did. He stood rigid, no emotion seen except for the terrible unshed tears. I wanted to go to him, to comfort him—but I was afraid. If I did his strength would have crumpled, leaving him defenseless in agony and grief. I did nothing. —Joe O’Donnell Quoted from Japan 1945: A U.S. Marine’s Photographs from Ground Zero by Joe O’Donnell (Vanderbilt University Press, February 2005). Joe O’Donnell was a photographer for the U.S. Marines. He took this picture in September 1945. He returned to Japan in the 1980s to look for this boy, but could not find him.
Hiroshima 1938, Photograph by Wakaji Matsumoto, Courtesy of Hitoshi Oouchi. October 5, 1945, Photograph by Shigeo Hayashi, Courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. At 8:15 a.m. on the morning of August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The exploding bomb sent out nuclear radiation (neutrons and gamma rays), shock waves from the blast, and thermal radiation (heat waves). It killed and destroyed almost everything within 2 kilometers (1.3 miles) from the blast center. At the end of that day, according to the Japan-US Joint Research Group, 45,000 people were dead. And people kept dying, both from their wounds and from radiation poisoning. By the end of the year, more than 140,000 people had died, and tens of thousands more continued to suffer from the effects of the bomb. Before the Bombing After the Bombing
Nagasaki From the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Courtesy of Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Photograph by U.S. Military Forces, Courtesy of Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Three days later—at 11:02 a.m.—a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. This was a plutonium bomb, even more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. However, because the blast center was 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the center of Nagasaki, fewer people were killed. The precise number of people who were killed or wounded and later died from the effects of the bomb remains unknown, but the death toll at Nagasaki reached at least 70,000 by the end of 1945. After the Bombing Before the Bombing
The Scene at Miyuki Bridge I returned to Miyuki Bridge but could not snap the shutter of my camera. Faint cries pleaded for help and water. An infant clung to the breast of his mother who was too weak to move. A mother held her baby in her arms, crying madly, “Open your eyes! Open your eyes!” It was nothing but hell. The scene I saw through the viewfinder blurred as the tears streamed down my face. —Yoshito Matsushige Quoted from a photograph collection The Viewfinder Clouded with Tears (Gyosei Corporation, 2003). West end of Miyuki Bridge, Hiroshima. 2.2 kilometers (1.4 miles) from Ground Zero, August 6, 1945. Photograph by Yoshito Matsushige, Collection of the Chugoku Shimbun.
Nagasaki—On That Day The misery caused by the atomic bomb was seen in the severe burns on people’s faces and rotting injuries on their bodies. People were strewn on the ground and floated on rivers as they fled by the streets, waterways and hills. — Akizuki Shinichiro (Medical Doctor, Nagasaki survivor) 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) south-southeast of ground zero. A mother and child leave the first-aid station after receiving rations of rice balls. They appear to not have the energy to eat. Morning of August 10, 1945 near Ibinokuchi-machi, Nagasaki City. Photograph by Yosuke Yamahata, Courtesy of Shogo Yamahata. A father, carrying his baby who is too weak to cry, searches for a doctor. 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) south of ground zero. Morning of August 10, 1945 near Ibinokuch-machi, Nagasaki City. Photograph by Yosuke Yamahata, Courtesy of Shogo Yamahata. The day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, at Urakami Railway Station, 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from ground zero, a mother and a child lay dead on the platform. Photographed around noon on August 10, 1945, at Iwakawa-machi, Nagasaki City. Photograph by Yosuke Yamahata, Courtesy of Shogo Yamahata.
How Nuclear Bombs Kill and Destroy At the moment of explosion, the atomic bomb released its destructive power in three forms: radiation (15%), heat rays (35%) and blast pressure (50%). The radiation was composed of neutrons and gamma rays, which measured 604 rad and 3,500 rad respectively at 500 meters (0.3 miles) from ground zero, where no one survived. Low level radiation from fallout and secondary sources would cause delayed effects in later days. Heat rays measured at 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) from ground zero were 1.8 kcal/cm2. The exposed body parts of people outside buildings suffered 1st-4th degree burns. The heat caused buildings to burst into flames. Fire quickly spread and engulfed the entire city. The blast pressure was 28 meters (0.01 miles)/second at the point 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) from ground zero with an estimated speed of 280 meters (0.2 miles)/second at the blast center. Houses within 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius were destroyed. Damage from shock waves was felt as far as 60 kilometers (37 miles) away. A 1976 analysis revealed the estimated height to be 503±10m (Kerr & Solomon). Kerr GD, Solomon DL: The epicenter of the Nagasaki weapon—A reanalysis of available data with recommended values. ORNL-TM-5139 (1976). Epilation caused by radiation. Burn victim. This photograph was taken after the transplantation of skin grafts. This wooden house collapsed as a result of the blast, near Danbara, 3 kilometers (about 1.9 miles) from ground zero. The photographs above are from the film, Effects of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki shot by Nihon Eigasha, Ltd. in September 1945. Hypocenter 1.0 0 503 Altitude (m) 2.0 3.0 4.0 Distance (km) Radiation γ rays 319.5 78.5 7.83 0.89 0.13 0.02 21.1 3.31 0.14 0.006 0 Radiation dose Neutron rays Hypocenter 1.0 0 503 Altitude (m) 2.0 3.0 4.0 Distance (km) Heat Rays 229.4 42.2 11.0 4.4 2.2 Heat level (cal/cm2) Physical phenomena Hypocenter 1.0 0 503 Altitude (m) 2.0 3.0 4.0 Distance (km) Blast Wind Burning of white paper Burning of black paper Melting of tiles 440 160 60 30 Blast Wind (m/sec) Physical phenomena Complete destruction of wooden houses Partial destruction of walls, ceilings, etc (wooden houses) Serious damage to ferroconcrete buildings
Concentric Circles of Death The heat from the atomic bomb caused severe burns that were often fatal. Shock waves from the explosion threw people to the ground or against walls. Wooden buildings within 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from ground zero were flattened. People inside those buildings were often crushed to death or trapped under the debris and burned alive by the fires that followed. Radiation from the atomic bomb caused acute sickness among those exposed to it directly. Radioactive fallout affected many who later returned to the two cities to search for their families or provide medical treatment for the survivors. Population of Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bombing: 310,000~320,000. Death toll by December 31, 1945: Approximately 140,000 ± 10,000. Data on the death toll: From Nuclear Radiation and A-Bomb Sickness by Shono Naomi and Ijima Soichi, N.H.K. Publishing. Satellite images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are from Google Maps. Population of Nagasaki at the time of the atomic bombing: 270,000~280,000. Death toll by December 31, 1945: Approximately 70,000 ± 10,000. Hiroshima Nagasaki
What If It Happened Here? To make the effects of nuclear bombs clearer, let’s imagine what would happen if a one-megaton warhead exploded above Times Square in New York City. The blast from the explosion would destroy even the strongest buildings that were less than 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from Times Square. Nearly everyone within this area would be killed. Within an area 15–20 kilometers (9–12 miles) from Times Square—most of New York City and parts of New Jersey—most buildings would be damaged and most people surviving the blast would be wounded. Radiation poisoning would affect the majority of the survivors as well as their unborn children for many years. The background map is a screen capture from Google Maps. The photograph of New York City is by Sam valadi, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
Treatment Amid Chaos Peeled skin was dangling like seaweed from their arms Wet, red flesh exposed People were staggering with vacant eyes Extending their arms forward Like ghosts Suddenly they stumbled and fell Never to get up again —From The A-Bomb and Humanity, Hidankyo, 1997 A doctor and nurse treating injured people. The doctor is also injured. At Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital, August 10, 1945. Photograph by Hajime Miyatake, Collection of Asahi Shimbun. A girl transported to Omura Naval Hospital with peeled and shredded skin dangling all over her body. Around August 10 or 11, Nagasaki. Photograph by Masao Shiotsuki, Courtesy of Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Patients who could not be accommodated were laid in the shade outside, waiting for treatment. At Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital, August 10, 1945. Photograph by Hajime Miyatake, Collection of Asahi Shimbun. Loved Ones I looked for my 14-year-old first-born son for 5 days, but could not find him. Hearing that dead bodies were being shipped out at the port, I rushed there and finally found his body. I managed to carry him to a junior high school, where I conducted cremation. It broke my heart to know that he was laid on a cold concrete floor and died without anyone giving him even a drop of water. How cruel it is that a mother had to cremate her own child to whom she had given birth. —Atomic bomb survivor in Hiroshima Numerous victims of the atomic bomb were cremated near the Fukuya department store, a busy shopping area 800 meters from ground zero in Hiroshima. Bodies of soldiers and citizens continued to be brought there on stretchers to be cremated. August 12, 1945. Photograph by Hajime Miyatake, Collection of the Asahi Shimbun. In July 1952, seven years after the bombing, a great number of atomic bomb victim remains were uncovered across Hiroshima city. This photograph was taken in Saka-cho, where the remains of 60 people were found exposed to the elements and another 156 buried underground. This site was home to a first-aid station where many atomic bomb victims died. Excavations continue to this day. Photograph courtesy of the Chugoku Shimbun.
Hearing Mother’s Voice Behind, I Fled My house collapsed instantly—broken roof tiles, shingles and mud walls. I found Mother lying on her back, trapped under the debris. Her face was covered with blood. She could not even turn her face sideways. I heard her saying, “Take the thing pressing on my shoulder away.” But I could not budge it. The fire came closer as I ran away, bidding her farewell. Behind me she was reciting the Buddhist Heart Sutra as I tore myself from the scene. —Iwasa Mikiso (Hiroshima survivor) Top: At noon in Nagasaki, the day after the bombing. Photograph by YosukeYamahata, Courtesy of Shogo Yamahata. Bottom: Photograph by Hajime Miyatake, Collection of the Asahi Shimbun.
Acute Symptoms 9-year-old boy suffering hair loss, exposed 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the hypocenter in Hiroshima, October 1945. An 11-year-old girl who was inside a wooden house in Funairi-machi in Hiroshima, about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) southwest from ground zero, at the time of the bombing. Bleeding from the gums. 21-year-old soldier was inside a wooden building of Army Unit 104, 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) northeast from ground zero, when the bombing occurred. Around the end of August, his gums started bleeding. Subcutaneous bleeding (dark spots) appeared on his face and upper body and turned into an extravasation of blood. On September 3rd, two hours after this photograph was taken, he died. Hundreds of thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki survived the bombing but were poisoned by radiation. Their symptoms included bleeding from the gums, nose, or corners of the eyes; vomiting; hair loss; fatigue; and internal bleeding. These three photographs are from the film Effects of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki shot by Nihon Eigasha, Ltd. in September 1945. 0 5 10 15 20 (%) Radiation dose (cGy) 100~199 200~299 300~399 400~499 500+ Frequency of abnormal cells A Stem Cell Fusion genes for leukemia Gamma and Neutron Rays Hypothesis: Organ stem cell hit theory Masato Tomonaga, M.D., PhD. Oslo, Norway, March 2013 An evidence: Chromosome aberrations in short-distance survivors (a) (b) 5’ A B C D F G X Y E A B C D F G X Y E White Cells Red Cells Chromosomal Abnormalities and Destruction of Genes Neutrons and gamma rays released by the atomic bombs directly destroyed body cells of the hibukasha (atomic bomb victims). Radiation also affected hematopoietic function, which caused acute radiation sickness and death to many victims. The cause of aftereffects of the atomic bomb radiation can be found in the destruction of DNA which forms chromosomes. When affected by bomb radiation, cell molecules would cause ionization and generate oxygen, which then would destroy gene information of the DNA. Many are restored, but unrestored stem cells, after an incubation period can start to proliferate abnormally and turn into cancer cells. This figure shows the frequency of radiation-induced chromosomal aberrations in hematopoietic stem cells in the peripheral blood (GM-CFC, BFU-E) among atomic bomb survivors exposed to a radiation dose of 100 cGy (1 centigray + 1 rad) or more. The proportion of cells with abnormal chromosomes among the stem cells investigated is shown by dose. There is a positive correlation between the proportion and dose. Amenomori et al, Exp. Hematol. 16, 19088. This figure shows the chromosomal abnormality in the hematopoietic stem cells in the peripheral blood (A) and abnormality in the peripheral T-lymphocyte (B) observed in a high-dose survivor, indicating that the radiation-induced damage involves the level of totipotent hematopoietic stem cells. Amenomori et al, Exp. Hematol. 16, 19088.
10 20 30 40 50 60 0 Year Since 1945 (years) Increase in Deaths Years elapsed since the bombings and increase in deaths from leukemia and cancer Early Onset Late Onset Solid Cancers Phase: Thyroid, Breast, Lung, Colon, Stomach, Multiple Cancers Commonalities among young survivors 2nd Leukemia Phase (MDS/AML) 1st Leukemia Phase (AML/ALL/CML*) *CML is very rare as a therapy-related leukemia Among the surviving hibakusha, rates of leukemia increased drastically after 5 years. After reaching a peak in the 10th year, these cases diminished while other cancers started to appear and increase: thyroid cancer (10 years), breast and lung cancer (20 years), stomach and colon cancers and myeloma (30 years). The incidence of these cancers was higher the younger the hibakusha were at the time of the bombing. Myelodysplastic syndrome started to appear among elderly hibakusha 50 years after the bombing and is increasing year by year, a phenomenon described as a second epidemic of leukemia. Microgram from The Medical Effects of the Nagasaki Atomic Bombing by Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University Illnesses after theAtomic Bombing The graph shows the rate of deaths from leukemia and various solid cancers and the onset of myelodysplastic syndrome in relation to the number of years since the atomic bombing. Data from Masao Tomonaga, M.D., PhD., March 2013, Oslo, Norway. Normal bone marrow, granulocytes and erythroblasts. Acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL); marked proliferation of small lymphoblasts is evident. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML); marked proliferation of large myeloblasts is evident. Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML); marked proliferation of granulocytes at various stages of maturation is evident. A-bomb Microcephaly Yuriko Hatanaka was born in 1946 with microcephaly (abnormally small skull) caused by radiation from the atomic bomb blast which her mother experienced when Yuriko was in the womb. Her condition resulted in mental and physical disabilities. In Yuriko’s childhood, her mother choked up with tears, thinking of Yuriko’s future. In her adult years, Yuriko participated with her father, communicating the realities that victims of the atomic bomb must live with. Top: Yuriko with her parents, in front of her family’s barber shop, 1974. Photograph by Kikujiro Fukushima, Courtesy of Kyodo News. Bottom: Yuriko gazing at a newspaper, 1974. Photograph by Kikujiro Fukushima, Courtesy of Kyodo News.
Sadako Sasaki(Hiroshima, 1943–1955) Sadako was approximately 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) from ground zero when the bomb exploded, but miraculously was not injured. She was a happy child who giggled mischievously and was a popular girl at school. She excelled in athletics, often beating the boys in relay races. A decade after the bomb, just before graduating elementary school, Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia and hospitalized. Believing that she would recover if she could fold one thousand paper cranes, she devoted herself to creating cranes until she died six months later. She was only twelve. Sadako’s classmates started a donation campaign in an effort to give Sadako’s life and death some meaning. With the cooperation of children all over Japan, they built a statue, the “Children’s Peace Monument,” in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Now visitors from Japan and other countries dedicate paper cranes which they fold while praying for peace. Children’s Peace Monument. Photograph courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Sadako, after hospitalization, in front of her hospital. Photograph courtesy of Masahiro Sasaki. Paper cranes, folded as prayers for peace. Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan. Photograph by Masao Taira/iStock. TheTrauma That day, we managed to get home through the fire. Our house had burned down; we could not find our four children. We only found several bones, which crumbled into powder in our hands. My wife fell into a state of shock. Three months later, our niece brought an Ichimatsu Doll which our daughter had given her, saying we should keep it in place of our daughter. My wife was filled with joy at receiving it. Since then, we have collected the Ichimatsu Dolls, one each year, to console the souls of our children. —Motae and Yoshio Kuramitsu Ichimatsu Dolls collected over the years by Mr. and Mrs. Kuramitsu. Photograph by Yoichi Tanuma. Mr. & Mrs. Kuramitsu, holding an Ichimatsu Doll. Photograph by Yoichi Tanuma.
Censorship was widely imposed by the American authorities during the occupation and affected information about the atomic bombing and its aftereffects. Because nuclear weapons had never been used before, no one knew exactly what their long-term effects would be. Reassuring statements from American authorities in 1945 turned out to be misleading, as they were based on insufficient information. Elevated risks of cancer, for example, were not properly understood. Even when information did exist, some of it was withheld. Many aspects of the atomic bomb were military secrets, and Japanese news media and other publications were subject to censorship. The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission was established by President Truman to study the health effects of the two atomic bombs, but its first general report was not published until 1947, and detailed studies did not appear until years later. Secrecy and Censorship News stories filed by Japanese journalists were previewed and rubber-stamped by U.S. military censors. From Establishment and Conduct of Field Press Censorship in Combat Areas, published by the U.S. Army. Guidelines restricting public statements about atomic weapons were distributed internally among high-level Navy personnel. From the National Archives. Front cover and two pages from the Japanese tanka poetry collection titled Sange by Ms. Shinoe Shoda, secretly published in 1947 to evade occupation censorship. The poems are based on her personal experience at home in Hiroshima, 1.7 kilometers (1 mile) from where the bomb fell. She was 35 years old. “The censorship was so strict,” she recalls, “and I was told that any violation would almost certainly lead to the death penalty. But with a strong determination, even if it meant facing the death penalty, I published this book underground, compelled by a force inside myself, though my family tried to stop me.”—Quoted from Sange. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo. Sumiteru Taniguchi (Nagasaki, 1929–2017) On August 9, 1945, Mr. Sumiteru Taniguchi was 2 kilometers (1.3 miles) away from the blast center in Nagasaki. He was 16 years old. Thermal radiation burned his back so badly that he had to lie on his stomach for a year and nine months while being treated. Many times, because of the pain, he cried out “Kill me!” When he was finally able to stand up, the flesh of his front torso had become putrefied and deep chasms had formed between his ribs. I have survived miraculously, but for me, to “live” was to “endure the agony.” Bearing the cursed scars of the atomic bomb all over our bodies, we the hibakusha continue to live in pain. Nuclear weapons are weapons of extinction that cannot coexist with humans. They should never, ever be used for any reason whatsoever. I cannot die in peace until I witness the last nuclear warhead eliminated from this world. Above: Mr. Taniguchi speaks before government delegates at the NGO Session of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, May 7, 2010. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo. Top right: Sit-in to protest against nuclear testing, Nagasaki, 1984. Photograph by Haruo Kurosaki. Bottom right: Joining the peace rally in Union Square, New York, April 26, 2015. Photograph by Erico Platt.
Senji Yamaguchi (Nagasaki, 1930–2013) Mr. Senji Yamaguchi was 14 years old when Nagasaki was bombed. Only 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles) from the blast center, his upper body was severely burned by thermal radiation (heat rays). He lay unconscious for 40 days and barely escaped death. Eventually he seemed to recover; his acute radiation symptoms went away. But then he began suffering from diseases such as skin cancer, kidney disease, emphysema, and asthma. He also had trouble finding work because of his extensive scaring on his body. Despite his health problems, Mr. Yamaguchi remained an active campaigner for total nuclear disarmament. He represented the NGO delegations from Japan at the United Nations Second Special Session on Disarmament in 1982. In his speech he appealed for “No More Hibakusha! No More War!” Mr. Yamaguchi hands out flyers of the hibakusha appeal in downtown Tokyo, May 1990. Photograph by Ittetsu Morishita. From the film The Lost Generation. Copyright Association to Establish the Japan Peace Museum. Mr. Yamaguchi using a razor. Photograph by Sakae Murasato. Yoshiaki Maeza(Hiroshima, 1921–2009) Yoshiaki Maeza was twenty-four when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In October of the same year he moved to Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and took part in the foundation of the Society of the Sufferers of Nuclear Bombs of Nagano Prefecture, becoming its vice president and later its president. In 2009, he died at the age of 88. A few lines from a poem that he wrote: I will fight forever I will never stop fighting hoping my sons and their children have a beautiful future and happy lives His mottos: Fighting makes a man Peace cannot be realized by praying His words in his last days: I have nothing to fear. I will stand in my coffin, because I cannot lie down. I will shout until the day I die. If I lose the use of my hands and feet, I will still have my voice. I will find something new to say or do every day. It shall not stop. The things I know don’t allow me to die. I want to be the last defense against wars, reaching out to young people. Mr. Maeza in front of his restaurant “Pika Don,” October 2009. Photograph courtesy of Akishi Maeza. Mr. Maeza is examined in a hospital after surgery for intestinal cancer, around 1990. Photograph courtesy of Akishi Maeza. Mr. Maeza describes his experience in Nagano City, October 11, 2009. Photograph courtesy of Akishi Maeza.
Chieko Watanabe (Nagasaki, 1928–1993) In the summer 1945, Chieko Watanabe (age 16) was mobilized to work at Mitsubishi Electric as a member of Student Patriotic Corps. She was trapped under a fallen beam of the factory, which paralyzed the lower part of her body. Whenever she gave in to despair, it was her mother, also a hibakusha, who always encouraged and inspired her to live on. We should be the last to suffer from atomic bombs. I ask you, people of the world, please make joint efforts to abolish all atomic and hydrogen bombs. And with your help, we hope to achieve a world without these weapons as soon as possible, when we can say, “We are glad to have survived till today.” — Quoted from the appeal by Ms. Watanabe Chieko, at the Second World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, 1956. Chieko joins in the World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs with her friend’s help in Nagasaki, August 1975. Photograph by Kikujiro Fukushima, Courtesy of Kyodo News. Chieko distributes leaflets in a downtown area: “Let us make Nagasaki the last victim city of atomic bombing.” Photograph by Haruo Kurosaki, 1984. Shigeko Sasamori (Hiroshima, 1932–) As a first year student in a women’s high school, she was mobilized to clean a building that was empty after evacuation. She was about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) away from the blast center when the bomb fell and experienced serious burns on her face and upper half of her body. When she was nineteen, she participated in Bible classes for young female atomic victims that the Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto started. After undergoing several operations in Tokyo, she met Norman Cousins, a journalist who started a campaign named “moral adoption” to collect money for children who had been orphaned by the bomb. Supported by Mr. Cousins and others, she went to the United States as a member of a group of 25 young female atomic victims for another operation. Later, she was adopted by Mr. Cousins, became a nurse, and worked in a hospital. She continues to describe her experiences after her retirement. Ms. Shigeko Niimoto (Ms. Sasamori’s maiden name) arrived in New York accompanied by the Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, May 9, 1955. Photograph from Bettmann Collection/Getty Images. Shigeko speaks of her experience at a high school in New York City, April 30, 2015. Photograph by Kyodo News. Shigeko in front of the painting of Mr. & Mrs. Cousins, her adoptive parents, in her living room in Marina del Ray, California. Photograph by Keiko Fukuda.
Sunao Tsuboi (Hiroshima, 1925–2021) On the morning of August 6, 1945, Sunao Tsuboi was on his way to the university in Hiroshima. At 8:15, when the bomb hit, he was about 1.2 kilometers (0.8 miles) from the blast center. I was blown at least ten meters (33 feet) by the blast. My head, both hands, back, waist, both legs—almost all parts of my body—were burned. After a week, I lost consciousness. It took me over a month to regain consciousness. For three months after the day I finally came to, the doctors told me on a daily basis that I would surely die. Since 1945, Mr. Tsuboi had been hospitalized many times: for chronic aplastic anemia, for cardiac angina, and for cancer in his large intestines. All of these diseases were caused by the aftereffects of radiation. Despite his poor health, Mr. Tsuboi gave testimony about the horror of nuclear weapons and appealed for their abolition. Survivors suffering from burns and other injuries. Hiroshima, around 11 a.m. August 6, 1945. Photograph by Yoshito Matsushige, Collection of the Chugoku Shimbun. Top: Mr. Tsuboi was a teacher at a junior high school. Photograph courtesy of Sunao Tsuboi. Left: Mr. Tsuboi at the Anti Nuclear Weapon Exhibition held at the United Nations during the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo.
Damage from Uranium Mining and Nuclear Waste All nuclear weapons and most nuclear reactors ultimately require the mining of uranium ore. In the past, when mining was poorly regulated, hazardous waste from mines in the United States, Australia, and the former Soviet Union was not disposed of in a responsible fashion. Since then, huge sums have been spent on cleanup operations and underground storage. Some local indigenous peoples have resented mining operations in the American West and remain concerned about consequences to their health. The Hanford Nuclear Site lies in a deserted area of the Columbia River basin in Washington State. At one time it was the largest facility for plutonium production in the world, but these activities ceased in 1987. Photograph by Kazuma Momoi. Top: Church Rock mine in New Mexico yielded millions of tons of uranium ore until it closed in 1982. Workers are shown drilling holes in which explosives were placed to break up the rock. Photograph by Hiromitsu Toyosaki. Left: This Navajo woman lost her husband, a uranium mine worker. She is pictured in Red Rock, Arizona. Photograph by Hiromitsu Toyosaki. Damage from Nuclear Testing More than 2,000 nuclear bomb tests were performed by the United States, the former Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, China, and other nations until the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996. India, Pakistan, and North Korea did not sign the treaty and have performed ten known tests since 1996, most recently in 2017. All tests since 1962 have been performed underground. Before that date, the radiation and fallout from atmospheric tests were hazardous to all living things and caused environmental devastation. According to the November/December 1998 issue of Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 935 nuclear tests were performed in Nevada, 828 of which were underground as stated by the US Government. Sink holes caused by underground tests are visible in this photograph. Photograph courtesy of the U. S. Department of Energy. During the 1950s, people who lived where prevailing winds from atmospheric tests exposed them to fallout were sometimes known as “downwinders.” In St. George, Utah, many downwinders were exposed to fallout. This woman lost her son to leukemia in 1959 and her husband to cancer in 1983. Two of her remaining four children are suffering from brain tumors. Photograph by Hiromitsu Toyosaki. Top: The vacant lot of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in the former Soviet Union. Photograph by Takashi Morizumi. Left: Before atmospheric testing ended in 1962, it caused injuries to indigenous people in the Pacific. This boy was exposed to a test on Bikini Island. Photograph provided by U.S. military forces.
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Accident In 1986, a steam explosion in the Chernobyl nuclear facility blew off the upper part and sections of the side walls of the Number 4 reactor building. Following the disaster, a “sarcophagus” of steel and concrete was constructed over the reactor to prevent dispersal of radioactive waste. Thirty years later, the “New Safe Confinement Building” was built around the Number 4 reactor. The ill-fated Number 4 reactor building of the Chernobyl nuclear power facility in the Ukraine. Photographed in 2005 by Petr Pavlicek (IAEA). Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. The New Safe Confinement building is visible behind the sculpture in this photograph taken in 2018. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. Above: Minsk, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union. A young patient of the Republican Research Centre for Radiation Medicine poses for a photo. The boy was affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, his treatment in particular sponsored by numerous charity funds all over the country. May 1, 1991. Photograph by Vladimir Shuba/TASS. Right: Mogilyov Region, Belorussian SSR, USSR. Local resident Anna Goncharova crying when leaving her native village contaminated with radiation after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Photograph by Sergei Zheludovich and Vladimir Shuba/TASS. Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident The tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 precipitated an accident that was more severe, in some ways, than the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Hydrogen explosions at three of the four buildings in the Fukushima nuclear power facility resulted in wide dispersal of radioactive debris. As of April 2022, there were 35,000 people still living as evacuees as reconstruction of housing in the area continues. Even now, cooling the melteddown nuclear fuels is generating 140 tons of contaminated water a day. This contaminated water is treated in a complex filtration process, but the radioactive material tritium remains in the water. The number of large tanks for storing this “treated water” is increasing on the site. The Number 3 reactor building of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility was damaged by a hydrogen explosion. Photograph courtesy of Mainichi Shimbun, November 12, 2011. With people on board, a bus passes through the cherry blossom in the Difficult-To-Return zone of Tomioka town, Fukushima. Photograph courtesy of Mainichi Shimbun, April 6, 2019. Police officers search for missing victims in Fukushima’s evacuation area, April 7, 2011. Photograph courtesy of Mainichi Shimbun.
Foundation of the UN The United States atomic-bombed Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. This was the first time nuclear weapons had been used in warfare in human history. On October 24th of the same year, the United Nations was founded, and a resolution to request the foundation of a nuclear commission was adopted on January 24, 1946, during the first UN General Assembly. This was the first resolution at the UN, approved by the United States among other nations. It seemed that a world without nuclear weapons could be realized, but the United States and the former Soviet Union began a nuclear arms race based on a policy of mutual deterrence, and the number of nations with nuclear weapons began to increase. The first session of the United Nations General Assembly opened on January 10, 1946 at the Methodist Central Hall in London, United Kingdom. Photograph by Marcel Bolomey, Courtesy of UN Photo. The Constitution of Japan was promulgated in November 1946. Article 9 outlaws war as a means for Japan to settle international disputes. Translated into Spanish, it is presented here in Hiroshima/Nagasaki Square in Telde City, the Canary Islands. Photograph by Chihiro Ito. Seeking the Prohibition and Elimination of Nuclear Weapons The Stockholm Appeal of 1950 called for “the outlawing of nuclear weapons.” The Einstein-Russell Manifesto followed in 1955. Authored by Albert Einstein and British philosopher Bertrand Russell, it warned of the global risk created by nuclear weapons and appealed for peaceful resolution to international conflicts. These statements catalyzed subsequent movements in pursuit of world peace. Signature campaign for Stockholm Appeal, Toyosu, Tokyo, July 1951. Photograph courtesy of Rengo Tsushin. Albert Einstein Bertrand Russell reading from the manifesto that he coauthored with Albert Einstein, July 9, 1955. Photograph by Carl Sutton.
From Thermonuclear Tests at Bikini Atoll to the Movement to Ban Nuclear Bombs In 1954, an atmospheric nuclear test on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific dispersed nuclear fallout that reached the Japanese crew of a tuna-fishing boat, the Fifth Fukuryu Maru. The consequent radiation sickness of crew members was widely reported, including the death of Aikichi Kubohama, the radio officer. This event energized campaigns to ban nuclear weapons, including a petition in Japan that gathered more than 30 million signatures. Signature campaign protesting against atomic and hydrogen bombs in Ueno, Tokyo, April 1954. Photograph courtesy of Japan Gensuikyo. Crew members of the Fifth Fukuryu Maru were diagnosed with radiation sickness in April 1, 1954. Photograph courtesy of Mainichi Shimbun. The Fifth Fukuryu Maru discarded as derelict in “Yume no Shima,” Tokyo, 1970. Photograph by Ittetsu Morishita. The hydrogen bomb test “Bravo” at Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954. Photographed from a U.S. Air Force aircraft 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the blast. The Formation of Nihon Hidankyo —National Organization of the Hibakusha We do not want anyone in the world to experience the same suffering as we have. This message empowered the formation Nihon Hidankyo in 1956. Its “Message to the world” stated: “. . . we vow to save human beings from crisis through our experience as we heal and save ourselves.” The organization has struggled continuously to fulfill that vow for 64 years. Foundation of Nihon Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations), Nagasaki, August 10, 1956. Both Photographs by Rengo Tsushin.
Preventing Proliferation Nuclear proliferation became a major concern in the 1960s as more nations developed the capability to build bombs. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was negotiated by a United Nations committee and opened for signatures in 1968. It became legally binding on participants in 1970. Under the treaty, countries that built bombs before 1967—the United States, the former Soviet Union (now Russia), the United Kingdom, France, and China—are classified as nuclear-weapon states and may continue to possess them. Other signatory nations pledge never to build nuclear weapons but may benefit from peaceful development of nuclear energy with assistance from nuclear-weapon states. As of January 2021, 191 states agreed to honor the treaty. Above: First meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT, United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, April 1, 1974. Photograph courtesy of UN Photo. Left: The review and extension meeting, where an indefinite extension of the treaty was agreed to in May 1995. Article VI further committed the signatories to pursuing an end to the nuclear arms race, eliminating nuclear weapons, and ultimately achieving complete international disarmament. Photograph by Jon Levy/AFP/Getty Images.
International Symposium on the Effects of Atomic Bombs In 1977 the United Nations sponsored an international symposium in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki summarizing the effects of the two bombs that were dropped in 1945. This symposium responded to requests by Japanese anti-nuclear activists who pointed out that definitive data had never been officially presented by either Japan or the United States. The conference presented results of a survey of hibakusha which found that by the end of 1945, 140,000 bomb-related deaths had occurred in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki, with a margin of error of 10,000 in each city. In a closing statement during a symposium entitled “Life or Oblivion,” Philip John Noel-Baker said, “Hibakusha of the world Unite! We are the people of a glorious future yet to be.” Thus, the word “hibakusha” entered the international vocabulary. Arthur Booth making the opening statement at the symposium. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo. Philip John Noel-Baker, baronet, winner of the 1959 Nobel Peace Prize, speaking at the symposium. Photograph by Ittetsu Morishita.
UN Special Sessions on Disarmament In response to the continuing arms race, the United Nations General Assembly convened its first special session on disarmament in 1978. Delegations of peace activists from around the world marched through the streets of New York City during this exceptional event. They included 500 Japanese activists seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons. Two more special sessions on disarmament were held at the United Nations in 1982 and 1988. “No more hibakusha! No more war!” Mr. Senji Yamaguchi at the second special session on disarmament. Photograph courtesy of UPI/Kyodo. Demonstrators on 42nd Street in Manhattan during the second special session on disarmament. June 12, 1982. Photograph by Yasuo Otsuji. The Hibakusha in Europe Concerned about the possible deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons in Europe, anti-nuclear activists staged large demonstrations in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Netherlands, among others. Many hibakusha were invited to participate. In August 1982 four members from Japan visited the Vatican and met Pope John Paul II to seek his blessing for efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. Meeting Pope John Paul II in Vatican City, August 25, 1982. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo. Dr. Shuntaro Hida speaking at Municipal Technical College of Montpellier, France, in October 1983. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo. Representing the hibakusha, Mr. Satoru Konishi gave a solidarity speech at a 500,000-person rally held in Bonn, Germany in 1985. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo. In front of the Liberation Memorial of Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany, August 1982. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo.
Number of Nuclear Warheads, Nuclear Test Sites and Nuclear Tests USA 1,030 USA 5,428 Nevada (USA) Alamogordo (USA) Christmas Island (UK) Moruroa and Fangataufa Atolls French Polynesia (France) Russia 715 350 165 160 Pakistan India UK 45 45 6 6 France 210 20 7 North Korea China Israel Bikini and Eniwetok Atolls, Marshall Islands (USA) Emu Field (UK) Monte Bello Island (UK) Pokhran (India) Sahara (France) Maralinga (UK) Novaya Zemlya (Former Soviet Union) Semipalatinsk (Former Soviet Union) Chigais (Pakistan) Lop Nor (China) 90 225 290 Number of nuclear warheads possessed by each country Estimated by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) June 13, 2022. Test sites. Number of nuclear tests conducted (November/December 1998 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientisits; Subcritical nuclear tests conducted by the US and Russia are not included). Despite the end of the Cold War, the world is still threatened by nuclear weapons. The total power of all the world’s nuclear weapons is enough to kill all living things many times over. Russia 5,977 Number of nuclear tests, from the November/December 1998 issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Number of nuclear warheads possessed by each country as of June 13, 2022, estimated by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Background photograph: Hydrogen bomb test “Bravo” shot at Bikini Atoll. Photograph by U.S. military.
World Court Project The World Court Project was a citizens’ movement seeking a judgment from the International Court of Justice on the legality of the use of nuclear weapons. In 1994 and 1993, respectively, the United Nations General Assembly and the World Health Organization each adopted a resolution endorsing this effort. More than three million signatures in support of the World Court Project were gathered in Japan and submitted to the Court. Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made statements to the Court suggesting that the use of nuclear weapons would be a violation of international law. The International Court of Justice delivered a ruling on July 8, 1996 stating that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.” However, the Court added that an exception might exist “in an extreme circumstance of self-defense” where the survival of a nation was threatened. Above: The International Court of Justice delivers its landmark ruling. Photograph courtesy of Tokyo Federation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organizations. Left: A delegation of the World Court Project visited the International Court of Justice to listen to the statements of the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In front of the Peace Palace which houses the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. October 1995. Photograph courtesy of Tokyo Federation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organizations. Disarmament Diplomacy The Hague Convention of 1899 created the first treaty limiting the conduct of international warfare. To mark the 100th anniversary of this landmark event, nearly 10,000 citizens and 790 organizations from about 100 countries participated in the Hague Appeal for Peace conference held in May 1999. The Japanese delegation exhibited photo panels and presented testimonials from 78 hibakusha during a Japan Day program. One year later, in New York City at the United Nations Millennium Forum, the UN participated with nongovernmental, nonprofit citizens’ organizations to create a Declaration and Agenda of Action Plans, which included a statement on peace, security, and disarmament. At the send-off ceremony before the hibakusha join a march to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, at an ancillary event of the Hague Appeal for Peace, May 1999. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo. Hague Appeal for Peace, conference ceremony, May 1999. Photograph courtesy of Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (JALANA) The United Nations Millennium Forum at United Nations Headquarters, May 22 through 26, 2000. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo.
Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons —From a Joint Statement to International Conferences In May 2012, sixteen nations proposed a joint statement in the NPT Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference: “It is of the utmost importance that these weapons never be used again, under any circumstances. The only way to guarantee this is the total, irreversible and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons.” This joint statement was submitted to the UN General Assembly, and the number of approving nations increased at every meeting. Meanwhile, international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons still continue actively. The first was in Oslo, Norway, in March 2013, with 127 nations. The next was in Nayarit, Mexico, in February 2014, with 146 nations; then in December 2014, in Vienna, Austria, with 158 nations. In November 2017, when the international conference for nuclear disarmament was held at the Vatican for the first time, the hibakusha representative was invited to make a speech at the conference. Regarding nuclear weapons, Pope Francis stated: “The threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.” The Conference in Oslo. Photograph courtesy of Peace Boat. Hibakusha speaking in the “Hibakusha Session” in the opening part of the second “Humanitarian Impact” conference held in Nayarit, Mexico. February 13, 2014. Photograph courtesy of Nihon Hidankyo. After delivering a speech, Ms. Masako Wada, Nagasaki survivor, received warm applause from participants at the conference at the Vatican, November 2017. Photograph by Hisanobu Ito. Courtesy of Newspaper Akahata.
Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones in the World Demarcation of nuclear-weapon-free zones, nuclear-weapon-free status and nuclear-weapon-free geographical region Treaty of Tlatelolco The 1967 Treat for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean Treaty of Rarotonga The 1985 South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty 1 Treaty of Bangkok The 1995 Treaty on the South-East Asia NuclearWeapon-Free Zone 3 Treaty of Pelindaba The 1996 African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty 4 Central Asia NuclearWeapon-Free Zone Treaty The 2006 Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia 5 Mongolia’s Nuclear-WeaponFree Status In 1992, Mongolia declared its nuclearweapon-free status, which is internationally recognized and prohibits, inter alia, the acquisition, possession, placement, testing and use of nuclear weapons on its territory 6 Antarctic Treaty The 1959 Antarctic Treaty, inter alia, prohibits any measures of military nature on the continent of Antarctica, including any testing of nuclear weapons 7 Outer Space Treaty The 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, inter alia, prohibits placing nuclear weapons in orbit around the Earth, installing or testing these weapons on the Moon and other celestial bodies as well as stationing these weapons in outer space in any other manner 8 Sea-Bed Treaty The 1971 Treaty on the Prohition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil Thereof, inter alia, prohibits the emplacement of nuclear weapons on the bottom of the ocean and in the subsoil thereof 9 2 Nuclear-Weapon-Free Status – Nuclear-Weapon-Free geographical regions Land territory covered by Nuclear-Weapon-Free Treaties Sea territory covered by Nuclear-Weapon-Free Treaties – Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones 1 5 6 7 9 As of 2010, the above nine nuclear-weapon-free zones are in effect. Some of the treaties related to these zones are at different stages with regard to the signature, ratification and entry into force, as well as with regard to the signature and ratification of their associated protocols containing security assurances from the nuclear-weapon States. The delineation of the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones presented on this map is indicative only. Adapted from an original map developed by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. The treaties establishing the nuclear-weapon-free zones, inter alia, ban nuclear weapons within the respective territories of the zones, including the acquisition, possession, placement, testing and use of such weapons.en.hiroshima-nagasaki-museum.org