I wish to take this opportunity to thank the Organising Committee for their invitation and financial assistance on behalf of my Association. I wish to reaffirm our support for the Conference theme and our solidarity with the International Hibakusha struggle to gain recognition for our struggle and a just and fair compensation for damages and sufferings.
Since the last World Conference, I wish to report on the following progress for our members:
1) Membership Drive - to date we have put on our list 278 names of veterans who served in "Operation Grapple". A probable record state 300 personnel served in Christmas Island during the British nuclear testing programme from 1957-1959.
2) Family Health Survey Project - we continue with our survey that was launched last year (2002) with only 157 veterans having completed the survey forms.
3) Class Action against the UK Government- in December 2002 we were fortunate to join a class action by British, Australian, New Zealand and Fijian veterans who took part in the Christmas Island tests. The UK Legal Aid Commission has funded the court action against the Ministry of Defence. This is a big turnaround in British attitude towards our claim for recognition and compensation and another milestone for the International Nuclear Test Veterans struggle for compensation.
4) Documentary - In October last year, an Australian journalist, Ms Olivia Rousette from SBS Dateline Australia (Sydney) did a documentary on the struggle of the Fiji veterans. I have brought along a copy for Gensuikyo and acknowledge with gratitude the assistance from Gensuikyo in the veterans' struggle for recognition of their plight.
With an Association in a less developed country, we continue to struggle to raise sufficient funds to pay for the day to day administrative work. We need funds for the following:
i) Office maintenance (equipment, furniture, stationery)
ii) Membership registration drive
iii) Family Health Survey Project
iv) "Control Group" Survey
2. FIJI Government
In October last year, the Fiji Government gave us $2,000 which assisted us in some way. We struggle to convince our Fiji Government that our suffering and pain were the result of our participation in the "Operation Grapple" Nuclear Testing Programme of the British Government on Christmas Island in 1957-59.
Our struggle to gain War Pension for our members depend entirely on the evidence we can produce to the Government that our illnesses were caused by being exposed to nuclear radiation.
Our members rely heavily on the research reports on hibakushas in Japan and nuclear victims in other parts of the world for our own government to recognise the connection between our illnesses and our participation in the British nuclear tests.
Such reports would be very important for our court case in Britain and I appeal to you for help in our struggle to gain recognition for our compensation claims.
APPEAL FOR HELP
My Association urgently needs funding for some of the important work we are now undertaking. We are thankful to PCRC, the secretariat for the Nuclear Free Pacific for providing us with an office space where we can run the day to day management of our work.
I would like to recommend that this Conference nominate one day in the year to be observed by all International hibakushas and nuclear test veterans to commemorate the great number of the Japanese people that perished in Hiroshima and the Nagasaki atomic bombing.
Maybe we can call it "World Black Day" to be observed by a peace march in all our cities all over the world by school children, veterans, families and our anti-nuclear friends. This is one way to show our support for the good work of Gensuikyo to prevent nuclear war and to maintain peace in the world for our future generations. Let us assert this year's theme to:
・ Create a World without Nuclear Weapons and Without War;
・ Prevent the use of nuclear weapons,
・ Oppose their development, and
・ Demand the total elimination of nuclear weapons; and to
・ Oppose the notion of pre-emption and
・ Defend the rule of world peace.
Arigado go daimas to one and all.