Mother and Child statues in Nagasaki(above) and Bhopal (below)

6 August is the Hiroshima Day. At 8.15am, when the bomb exploded, thousands who assembled at the ceremony ground stood up for a minute’s silence. They were joined by millions across the country. The Mayor’s speech, called the ‘Hiroshima Declaration of Peace’, is the main item. This year he again called for a nuclear-free peaceful world, and also wanted the nuclear power policy, which is generating so much damage and confusion because of the severe accident at Fukushima, be revised. He added that the extent of the radioactive ‘black rain’, which showered on the city soon after the explosion but which has been minimized by the government so far, should be properly delineated scientifically so that we could reach a more accurate figure of the victims.

This year a list of 5,785 who had passed away during the last year out of the survivors was prepared, making the total number of dead at Hiroshima 275,230. The number of survivors all over the country has come down to about 220,000 by now. The corresponding figure for Nagasaki of the number of dead in the past year will come out in a day or two. The fateful time for Nagasaki is 11.02am.

The Prime Minister spoke after the Mayor. He referred to the ‘ultimate abolition of the nuclear weapons’, their preferred phrase to mean that they are not going to be bound, and bind others, by any time-bound arrangement.

Kan, however, added that the existing myth of safety about the nuclear power plants would be looked into, and we will aim at a society not dependent on nuclear energy. Hope he will be as good as his words. I may add here that the nuclear power plants have originally come out of President Eisenhower’s famous UN speech on ‘Atoms for Peace’ in December 1953. It is essentially a part of a plan to make nuclear weapons acceptable. No wonder that the safety element of the plants has not been looked into carefully enough.

Bhopal is the capital city of a major Indian state of Madhya Pradesh(central state). In December 1984, the Union Carbide factory in its suburbs leaked insecticide gas in the thick of the night, causing several thousand of casualties. I had a chance to take a look at the cite in 1988. The factory had been closed, but I saw a statue of a mother embracing a little child crying(written in words) ‘No Bhopal, no Hiroshima, we want to live’. This was not a nuclear-related factory. But I was impressed to find ‘Hiroshima’ there. It was unexpected. But there can be no barrier between nuclear or non-nuclear when it comes to inhuman disasters.

 

Prof Yamaguchi Hiroichi (Retired from Bunkyo University, Japan) is a renowned expert on India, Asia, Mahatma Gandhi and Japan. His blog has some good discussions on Japan and Asia.