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HOME  > Past issues  > 2023 February 15 - 21  > Bikini Atoll tragedy the origin of Japan's antinuke movements
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2023 February 15 - 21 TOP3 [PEACE]

Bikini Atoll tragedy the origin of Japan's antinuke movements

February 20, 2023

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The United States on March 1, 1954 conducted a massive hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific. Many Japanese fishermen and local islanders were exposed to a large amount of radiation fallout from the test explosion.

Kuboyama Aikichi was a radio operator of the Japanese tuna fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru. He died due to radiation exposure. His death, as a victim of nuclear weapons following those who had been killed and injured in the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had a major impact on Japanese society. Kuboyama's death and increasing concern over irradiated fish caught in the South Pacific sparked a national movement calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In this sense, the Bikini hydrogen bomb blast is the starting point of Japanese antinuke peace movements.

The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into effect in 2021. The treaty's preamble specifies "the unacceptable degree of hardships and damage" that atomic-bomb victims and victims of nuclear-weapons tests have suffered. The treaty's Article 6 and Article 7 oblige State Parties to provide support and international assistance to the victims. The first Conference of State Parties to the TPNW held last June adopted an action plan which enumerates concrete support measures. The plan proposes that an international trust fund be established and that a scientific advisory group be formed as well. According to the plan, efforts in this regard should be made in partnership and cooperation with non-TPNW signatories, civil society, young people, and all parties concerned.

Japan is the only atomic-bombed country in the world. As of now, it has not signed and ratified the TPNW, but it can contribute to international cooperation in regard to support for the victims. It should change its attitude of leaving Bikini victims to fend on their own. Instead, it should uncover the whole picture of the death, damage, and destruction, and give assistance to the aging victims and their family members without delay.

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