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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 February 18 - 24  > Now is time to get full picture of radiation exposure from US H-bomb test at Bikini Atoll and provide support to all victims
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2015 February 18 - 24 [PEACE]

Now is time to get full picture of radiation exposure from US H-bomb test at Bikini Atoll and provide support to all victims

February 24, 2015
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

On March 1, 1954 at Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands, the United States tested a hydrogen bomb which was a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Residents in surrounding islands, including Rongelap Island, and more than 1,400 fishing boats near the test site were exposed to radiation fallout from the test.

The Welfare Ministry in September 2014 disclosed materials regarding surveys on radioactive contamination of 473 Japanese fishing boats and their crew members affected by the test. In response to a request from Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Kami Tomoko calling for a reinvestigation into what happened after the U.S. nuclear test explosion, the Fisheries Agency on February 21 released another document showing that a total of 1,423 boats were exposed to radiation. The need is to make efforts anew to get a full picture of radiation exposure from the U.S. H-bomb test and provide support to all victims.

After the March 1 nuclear test, the death of Kuboyama Aikichi, a chief radio operator of the Japanese tuna fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon No.5), delivered a profound shock to people throughout Japan. Contamination of fish and rain became a major social issue and a call for a ban on atomic and hydrogen bombs spread rapidly throughout the nation. More than 30 million people, almost half of Japan’s population at that time, signed a petition demanding a ban on nuclear weapons. Many local governments collected petition signatures from their residents. The public movement against nuclear weapons literally developed at the grass-roots level.

In the midst of the growing expansion of the public movement, the 1st World Conference against A and H Bombs took place in 1955, leading to the foundation of the Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Japan Gensuikyo) through the merger of the World Conference preparatory committee and an organization for collecting anti-nuke signatures. In 1956, the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bombs Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) was established by Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) who gathered in strength at the 2nd World Conference.

In the 1950s, the U.S. government repeatedly made threats to use nuclear weapons in Asia and even studied the possibility of the joint use of those weapons by the U.S. forces and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. The U.S. administration, however, gave up moving in this direction because Japanese people’s sentiment against nuclear weapons and movements representing those sentiments tremendously increased. This has been revealed in U.S. government records.

The annual March 1 (“Bikini Day”) events play an important role in increasing the public movement working for the elimination of nuclear weapons. In this regard, the success of this year’s Bikini Day rally is very important.
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