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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 December 13 - 19  > Grassroots efforts launched under US occupation lead to N-ban treaty: peace activist
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2017 December 13 - 19 [PEACE]

Grassroots efforts launched under US occupation lead to N-ban treaty: peace activist

December 15, 2017
Triggered by the tragedy in which Japanese tuna-fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon #5) was exposed to radiation fallout from the 1954 U.S. hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll, survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Hibakusha) began to relate their own experiences to the public. Until then, information regarding Hibakusha was hidden from the general public.

Yasuda Kazuya, secretary general of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru Peace Association, in an Akahata interview on December 15 said that A-bomb-related information was suppressed by the General Headquarters (GHQ) of allied forces occupying postwar Japan.

General Thomas Farrell, who headed the Manhattan Project Atomic Bomb Investigating Group, on September 6, 1945 made the following statement: “In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, here at the beginning of September, anyone liable to die has already died and no one is suffering from atomic radiation.” About 10 days later, the GHQ issued a “Press Code for Japan” to censor information before broadcasting and publishing. The GHQ ruled out news reports on the damage of the atomic bombings by regarding them as an obstacle to the occupation policies.

Yasuda said, “Most Japanese had no way of knowing what happened in the two cities after the 1945 nuclear attacks. At that time, while people paid little or no attention to Hibakusha, they were struggling not only with many health issues but also with poverty-related issues.” However, even under GHQ suppression, there were people who made grassroots efforts to increase public awareness of the sufferings of the Hibakusha radiation victims and the effects of the atomic bombings, Yasuda added.

Labor unions and women’s groups carried articles reporting on the atomic attacks in their organ papers and held A-bomb photo exhibitions on the streets. Together with like-minded people, Hibakusha poet Toge Sankichi took to the streets to attract public attention to Hibakusha by using handmade posters. In August 1950, he published a mimeographed poetry book entitled “Poems of the Atomic Bomb” with his own money. Books on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were published in such a manner in order to avoid the GHQ censorship.

The GHQ-set Press Code was abolished in April 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect.

Yasuda pointed out that in 1954, following the Bikini tragedy, information about the atomic bombings was made public one after another. He said, “In 1955, at the first anti-nuke world conference, Hibakusha came to talk about their experiences. Grassroots peace movements starting even during the U.S. occupation helped Hibakusha to tell their stories.”

Yasuda said, “Grassroots activists and Hibakusha worked in concert with each other to push forward with the movement to abolish nuclear weapons, which definitely contributed to the adoption of the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons.”
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