Wilton Meeting Remembers Hiroshima

Today [August 7th] several members of Wilton Monthly Meeting met at Calf Pasture beach to commemorate the bombing of Hiroshima. Do you know that your meeting played a significant role in sponsoring some of the Hiroshima Maidens? The Hiroshima Maidens are a group of twenty-five young Japanese women who were seriously disfigured as a result of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (our meeting accepted responsibility for 12). This was a Quaker project. Keloid scars marred their faces and many of their hands were bent into claw-like positions. These women, as well as the other citizens affected by the A-bomb were referred to as “hibakusha”, meaning “explosion-affected people”. The women were brought to the United States to undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries. This highly publicized turn of events was largely the work of Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins, an outspoken advocate of nuclear disarmament. At Mt. Sinai Hospital volunteer plastic surgeons performed 138 separate operations on the women, who were in their late 20’s, producing a few miracles and many small improvements – although one died on the operating table. The Maidens lived nearly two years as guests in Quaker households in the metropolitan area, flew home to be buffeted as symbols of American guilt or generosity, genius or salesmanship, and then faded into feature stories on the anniversaries of Hiroshima.

The mayor of Hiroshima today urged the next US president to work to abolish atomic weapons as the city marked the 63rd anniversary of the world’s first nuclear attack. At 8:15 am August 6, 1945 a single US bomb instantly killed more than 140,000 people and fatally injured tens of thousands of others with radiation or horrific burns.

Last year 170 countries voted in favor of Japan’s U.N. resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Only three countries, the United States among them, opposed this resolution

For those of you with access to the internet, google Hiroshima anniversary; you will not find anything from any major US news source on the first two pages of the search. The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Los Angeles Times… nothing! Not one article or mention of the anniversary of this horrendous event. By the way, the Tehran Times (yes – Iran’s leading international daily) published the complete text of Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba’s Hiroshima Peace Declaration 2008 which follows:

Another August 6, and the horrors of 63 years ago arise undiminished in the minds of our hibakusha, whose average age now exceeds 75. “Water, please!” “Help me!” “Mommy!” — On this day, we, too, etch in our hearts the voices, faces and forms that vanished in the hell no hibakusha can ever forget, renewing our determination that “No one else should ever suffer as we did.”

Because the effects of that atomic bomb, still eating away at the minds and bodies of the hibakusha, have for decades been so underestimated, a complete picture of the damage has yet to emerge. Most severely neglected have been the emotional injuries. Therefore, the city of Hiroshima is initiating a two-year scientific exploration of the psychological impact of the A-bomb experience.

This study should teach us the grave import of the truth, born of tragedy and suffering, that “the only role for nuclear weapons is to be abolished.”

This truth received strong support from a report compiled last November by the city of Hiroshima. Scientists and other nuclear-related experts exploring the damage from a postulated nuclear attack found once again that the only way to protect citizens from such an attack is the total abolition of nuclear weapons. This is precisely why the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Court of Justice advisory opinion state clearly that all nations are obligated to engage in good-faith negotiations leading to complete nuclear disarmament. Furthermore, even leaders previously central to creating and implementing U.S. nuclear policy are now repeatedly demanding a world without nuclear weapons.

We who seek the abolition of nuclear weapons are the majority. United Cities and Local Governments, which represents the majority of the Earth’s population, has endorsed the Mayors for Peace campaign. One hundred and ninety states have ratified the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. One hundred and thirteen countries and regions have signed nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties. Last year, 170 countries voted in favor of Japan’s UN resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Only three countries, the U.S. among them, opposed this resolution. We can only hope that the president of the United States elected this November will listen conscientiously to the majority, for whom the top priority is human survival.

To achieve the will of the majority by 2020, Mayors for Peace, now with 2,368 city members worldwide, proposed in April of this year a Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol to supplement the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This Protocol calls for an immediate halt to all efforts, including by nuclear-weapon states, to obtain or deploy nuclear weapons, with a legal ban on all acquisition or use to follow by 2015. Thus, it draws a concrete road map to a nuclear-weapon-free world. Now, with our destination and the map to that destination clear, all we need is the strong will and capacity to act to guard the future for our children.

World citizens and like-minded nations have achieved treaties banning anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. Meanwhile, the most effective measures against global warming are coming from cities. Citizens cooperating at the city level can solve the problems of the human family because cities are home to the majority of the world’s population, cities do not have militaries, and cities have built genuine partnerships around the world based on mutual understanding and trust.

The Japanese Constitution is an appropriate point of departure for a “paradigm shift” toward modeling the world on intercity relationships. I hereby call on the Japanese government to fiercely defend our Constitution, press all governments to adopt the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, and play a leading role in the effort to abolish nuclear weapons. I further request greater generosity in designating A-bomb illnesses and in relief measures appropriate to the current situations of our aging hibakusha, including those exposed in “black rain areas” and those living overseas.

Next month the G8 Speakers’ Meeting will, for the first time, take place in Japan. I fervently hope that Hiroshima’s hosting of this meeting will help our “hibakusha philosophy” spread throughout the world.

Now, on the occasion of this 63rd anniversary Peace Memorial Ceremony, we offer our heartfelt lamentations for the souls of the atomic bomb victims and, in concert with the city of Nagasaki and with citizens around the world, pledge to do everything in our power to accomplish the total eradication of nuclear weapons.

Tadatoshi Akiba
Mayor of the City of Hiroshima

Write to or e-mail our representatives in congress to let them know how you feel:

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd
30 Lewis St Suite 101
Hartford, CT 06103
e-mail Chris Dodd

Representative Christopher Shays
10 Middle Street, 11th Floor
Bridgeport, CT 06604-4223
e-mail Chris Shays

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman
(forget about it?)
One Constitution Plaza, 7th Floor
Hartford, CT 06103
(He doesn’t give out his e-mail address)