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Peace News log archive: August 2012

Articles from the Peace News log.
For archive articles from the whole site, look here

Reflections on a Merseyside documentary film screening commemorating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Having recently rejoined Merseyside CND, and believing that membership of an organisation necessarily entails participation in its activities, I decided to attend this year’s Hiroshima commemoration in Liverpool, part of which was a film screening at our local social centre. The documentary had originally been shown on BBC4 and concerned the attack on Hiroshima itself, particularly the logistics of delivering the bomb to its target, an aspect of that frightful episode with which I was unfamiliar, despite a longstanding interest in all things nuclear and anti-nuclear.

Several points have remained with me since seeing the film. The first is that, even on the morning of August 6th, 1945, the actual target for the ‘new weapon’ had not been finally decided. Hiroshima, a nearby port and Nagasaki were identified as possible sites, with the weather over each place on the actual day dictating where the bomb would be dropped. This meant that three other US planes would fly to Japan with the bomb carrier, Enola Gay, each to assess the weather conditions over a possible target and radio the information back to the mission commander, who would take the final decision. By this method, Hiroshima was chosen, and the fate of its people decided. Yet August 6th was not the first time that American bombers had appeared over the city. In the weeks prior to the attack, the US air force had been in the habit of overflying Hiroshima without actually dropping bombs. The effect of this had been to accustom the population to the sight of warplanes passing overhead without then taking cover in air raid shelters. The evident and cruel cynicism of this tactic was not lost on those watching the film.

The human aspect of that horrific day was dramatised by the film telling the stories of several individual inhabitants of the doomed city and of personal possessions they had with them at the moment of impact: a watch, a lunch box and its carbonised contents and a child’s tricycle (all recovered and now preserved in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum). One of those who featured was a photographer with a city newspaper, who ventured out into the streets after the explosion and who captured, as far as we know, the only five images from inside Hiroshima that day. The pictures, as one might imagine, could have come from hell: shattered people cowering in shattered streets, bathed in a light which could not be created in any studio.

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London actions in solidarity with Japanese protests against restarting of nuclear reactors.

ImageSixteen anti-nuclear protesters - half of them Japanese - gathered outside the Japanese embassy in Piccadilly, London on the morning of Friday 10 August, for the second week running, in a demonstration organised by London-based group Kick Nuclear http://kicknuclear.org. This was in solidarity with weekly demonstrations taking place outside the Prime Minister’s offices in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan against the restarting of nuclear reactors as the Fukushima crisis continues. The weekly numbers taking part in those protests have now swelled to well over 70,000.

Last Thursday, 9 August, was the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, which instantly killed some 70,000 people. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima three days earlier immediately took the lives of 140,000 people. Thousands more have died from radiation-related illnesses in the years that followed, often decades later.

ImageAt this year’s remembrance ceremony in Nagasaki, Japanese officials pledged to work towards a society less reliant on nuclear energy. [1]

The city’s mayor, Tomihisa Taue, called on the Japanese government to seek "a society free from the fear of radioactivity" and to promote new energy sources in place of nuclear power.

Following the triple reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant which began following the massive Japanese earthquake and tsunami last March, Taue, during his speech at last year's Nagasaki Day ceremony, became the first mayor of that city to call on Japan to move away from nuclear energy.

In this year's speech, Taue urged the Japanese government to map out concrete plans to achieve a nuclear-free society where people do not need to worry about the effects of radiation. He also called for renewed commitment to a global ban on nuclear weapons.

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