Atom bomb survivors hail ICAN's Nobel Prize, express anger with Japan






Survivors of the 1945 US atomic bombings in Japan have welcomed the awarding of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). But they have also expressed anger toward the Japanese government for not joining the treaty.
Tokyo (dpa) – Haruko Moritaki says she was scoffed at by some Western disarmament experts a decade ago, when the longtime anti-nuclear activist stressed the world needs a treaty that prohibits nuclear weapons.



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"I told them that was the only way to eradicate nuclear arsenals," Moritaki, the head of the Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, told dpa. "But I was easily dismissed as they thought I was too idealistic."
There were very few in Japan who would go along with her idea, she adds.
However, the daughter of late anti-nuclear movement leader Ichiro Moritaki became certain four years ago that it was possible to establish such a treaty with the emergence of an anti-nuclear group, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
ICAN, the coalition of 468 non-governmental organizations from 101 different countries, was named the recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize as it helped build the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
In July, 122 United Nations member countries adopted the historic treaty.
"ICAN has grown tremendously these three to four years as it has attracted young, energetic people. That is impressive," says Moritaki, whose father Ichiro suffered in the 1945 US nuclear attack on the western Japanese city of Hiroshima.
On Sunday, Beatrice Fihn, ICAN’s executive director, will attend the awards ceremony in Oslo, accompanied by Setsuko Thurlow, an ICAN campaigner who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
"All of the hibakusha are extremely happy about the fact that ICAN received the Nobel Peace Prize," says Terumi Tanaka, co-leader of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb sufferers organizations, at a news conference in Tokyo, in referring to the survivors of the US bombings.
The United States ushered in the nuclear age when it dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the final days of World War II, killing about 214,000 people in the two cities by the end of 1945.
Survivors as well as anti-nuclear activists in Japan are frustrated with their government’s refusal to participate in the treaty.
"Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, neither participated in negotiations nor signed this treaty. I’m quite angry about the position of the Japanese government," Tanaka says.
Japan did not sign the treaty in July along with the world’s nuclear-weapon states as the country depends on US nuclear deterrence for protection.
Japan maintains that "realistic and practical efforts on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation are essential in truly pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons," Foreign Ministry spokesman Norio Maruyama said in a statement. That cooperation includes working with nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states.
The Nobel award comes amid growing tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes as well as inflammatory reactions from US President Donald Trump.
In early September, Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, drawing worldwide condemnation.
The media and the states surrounding North Korea "are always talking about North Korea," Akira Kawasaki, an ICAN international steering group member and a co-chair of Japanese NGO Peace Boat, tells a news conference in Tokyo in October.
"The real issue is that nuclear weapons are bad weapons. We need to eliminate the bad weapons. There is no right hand for the wrong weapons," Kawasaki says.
North Korea "is of course posing a serious threat. However, as of today, 15,000 nuclear weapons exist, threatening the very survival of humanity," he adds.
ICAN's words ring true for survivors including Tanaka.
"At age 13, I experienced the nuclear attack in the city of Nagasaki and saw with my own eyes the inhumanity and cruelty of these weapons,” says Tanaka, who will also attend Sunday's ceremony.
"Through these experiences, we hibakusha have called upon the world to never again drop such weapons on human beings. They must be removed from the earth and abolished as quickly as possible."

 


Saturday, December 9th 2017
By Takehiko Kambayashi,
           


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