World Conference against A & H Bombs

Hiroshima – Opening Plenary

Senji Yamaguchi, Nagasaki Hibakusha

Welcoming Address

Greetings everyone. My name is Senji Yamaguchi.

Overseas delegates, people who have come from all over Japan, on behalf of the Japan Federation of Atomic Bomb Sufferers, I welcome you from the bottom of my heart. If you long for a world without nuclear weapons, a world without war, then at least once you should tread the [sacred] soil of Hiroshima. For there are people sleeping there, burnt alive, with no one to mourn them. And for as long as they lie sleeping there, anti-nuclear peace will begin from Hiroshima.

On that [fateful] day in August, Hiroshima was truly a living hell. Its seven rivers were crammed with corpses. The ground was covered with charred bodies and people with red skin peeling off them. Bodies scattered everywhere - decapitated, split open, stomachs swollen like drums, eyes popping out of heads: a hell on earth such as has never been depicted by the art of human hand. This was the terrifying world that unfolded on that day.

Then three days later it was repeated in Nagasaki. Those who somehow managed to survive had to struggle along with all sorts of disabilities, but, determined not to allow anyone else to go through the same experience, they have continued to appeal, on behalf of those who died, for the immediate elimination of nuclear weapons.

I was fourteen and 1.1 kilometers (0.6 miles) from the Nagasaki hypocenter at the time. The 4,000 degree C heat rays burned deep into my flesh. For forty days I was in a dazed, semi-conscious state on the border between life and death.

While so many others died agonizing deaths, miraculously I survived. In the midst of the suffering and disability that I went through thereafter, I often considered suicide, but each time something prevented me from doing so. It feels as if those people who died gave me life.

Atomic weapons are the devil himself. We don't accept them, no matter what reasons are given to justify them. "No to nuclear war. Abolish nuclear weapons." "Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki." The appeals that we have continued to make for the last half century have at last spread to every corner of the world and become the popular world consensus. In 1996 the World Court handed down a decision saying that the use of nuclear weapons would generally be illegal under international law. In 2000 the 187 parties to the NPT managed to get the nuclear weapon states to agree to a unanimous "unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the elimination of nuclear weapons".

The elimination of nuclear weapons has become an achievable and urgent objective.

The Bush administration is going in the opposite direction, but the strength of public opinion and the strength of unity are overwhelming. What's really infuriating, however, is that the Japanese Government backs America's nuclear policy in defiance of the Hibakusha and in defiance of the rest of the Japanese citizens too. We have to change the policy of the Japanese Government.

We demand that the government get out from under the nuclear umbrella. We demand a treaty for a North East Asia nuclear free zone. We demand that the three non-nuclear principles be enacted as law. We demand that the contingency bills be withdrawn and the Constitution be respected and protected. And let us get rid of the Japan-America military alliance as soon as we possibly can.

Thank you.