My name is Oishi Matashichi. I used to be a crew of the 5th Lucky Dragon. On March 1, 1954, I encountered and was exposed to the H-bomb test when the US military conducted it at the Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands. The H-bomb test was given a code name of Bravo and was regarded as 1000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima type A-bomb. The test produced a mass amount of dirty radioactive substance "Uranium 237," which does not exist in nature, contaminating vast area of the Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere. It is considered as the worst contamination of the global environment in 20th century.
At the time, the Fifth Lucky Dragon was fishing tuna at 160 kilo meters away from the detonation point and we witnessed the flush and the roar. Almost two hours later, white ashes started to fall and accumulated over our boat so that our foot print would remain. This ash was later called the "fallout", and it contained powerful radioactivity (equivalent to the radiation amount of within 800 meters of Hiroshima type A-bomb) and the structure of the Hydrogen bomb which was the top secret of the US military.
The Fifth Lucky Dragon was not the only ship which experienced the nuclear test. At that time, there were some 900 tuna fishing boats in the sea area of the Marshall Islands, and almost 20,000 men have experienced the test. But the Japanese government only examined the contaminated tuna, and never tried to check the men as if to "let the sleeping dogs lie."
There were 23 crew members on the Fifth Lucky Dragon, and 12 of us, about half of all, have died of common disease such as cancers and liver disorder. Each time, I have seen the sorrow of the families loosing the mainstay and facing hardships of life.
I myself have developed liver cancer also and underwent an operation. My first child was born dead and sadly deformed. But the Japanese government has not recognized the effect, saying "not related to experiencing the H-bomb."
This Bikini incident has generated a strong anti-nuclear test movement. The Japanese government was in panic, and worried about the friendship between Japan and the US and continuance of nuclear tests. So, they brought a political end to the issue within 9 month, while neglecting the victims and forcing entire settlement on everything. We were no longer Hibakusha after that.
The reason why the government was in such hurry was found in the diplomatic documents released later on and in other remaining materials.
During the incident, the Japanese government was making an incredible diplomatic deal behind the scenes.
The United States was then sounding the Japanese government on acceptance of enriched uranium "in order to build a military nuclear bloc." Japanese government was about to import the technology of nuclear power generation and reactors from the U.S. These led to the statements of the Japanese government such as that they would co-operate the US nuclear tests and it was not a violation of the international law. As for the enormous loss and compensation of the fishing industry, they declared small amount of money in sympathy was enough, which was opposite to the people's wish, while concluding such an absurd deal. Japanese nuclear power generation can be considered as being established in exchange for the compensation of the Bikini incident, and we were made to be the human sacrifice for that. These are the facts arose from remaining documents 30 years after, projecting totally different view to the conventional understanding of the Bikini incident.
Another thing is that the Ministry of Health and Welfare has partially recognized for the first time after 46 years of the incident as the crews consequently became ill that "development of disease is related to experiencing the H-bomb test," and decided to apply the Seafarer's Insurance Policy. So, there was a relation. Meanwhile, eleven members had died of the same disease. But their cases are still neglected to this day. There are more hidden parts to this incident. The Bikini incident is not yet finished.
Last year, I visited the Marshall Islands, the very site for the H-bomb test, and learned a lot. People of the Bikini and Rongelap Atolls are still living on refuge life. And their government, even after 50 years, is continuously making claims against the US, the wrongdoer.
What surprised me was that the islanders who experienced the same test as we did were recognized for 35 kinds of disease to be covered by the US compensation. What makes us so different?
However, I was also told that the US is trying to cut down on the amount or might stop entire compensation.
We shall never allow such an attitude of the Japanese and US governments against the victims.
I researched these new findings and put them together in a book titled "the truth of the Bikini incident" published by Misuzu Publication to suggest the whole picture of the incident from the viewpoint of the victim concerned. This is a revised record of the Bikini incident and the following 50 years. I would be happy if you would take a look at it.
My life was changed by the US H-bomb test and I have suffered for the last half century. And I have restlessly given thought to these horrible nuclear weapons. What would be the way to abolish nuclear weapons from the earth? My mind have been kept with such thought.
It has been 58 years since the A-bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even though there has been a continuous anti-nuclear movement claiming nuclear weapons as enemy of human being, nuclear weapons are not only abolished but produced more, letting the nuclear powers play with them as tools for diplomacy. But unnoticed, nuclear weapons are the ones already dominating us human being.
Lately, I seriously think of the following. You may think it as an ideal unrealistic dream and laugh at me, but I am serious. "Today, human being is attacked by the 20,000 nuclear weapons deployed all over the world, and the earth is turned into ashes. Human being makes unconditional surrender before nuclear weapons. Let us think of that."
Japan once started the Pacific war against the world. The nation was defeated and turned into ashes, and the constitution renounced war and removed military. Thanks to that effort, Japan became an economic power and could make contribution to the world.
In old Japan, at the end of the Edo dynasty which brought period to the Age of Civil Wars, old domains were replaced by prefectures, firing samurai worriers (or local military) and the nation was integrated as one. Today as we face the world with unceasing warfare, I believe it is time that each state should dissolve their national military and integrate into the United Nations government and a global defense force.
Police and rescue squad for disasters would be enough for each state. If the enormous amount of money spent on war and military were allocated for "poverty, education and friendship," the world would change. It may take time, but I believe old thinking too can be changed.
We are experiencing a new era of universal nation in which the world is connected by computers and news was conveyed in seconds from the other side of the earth. Is it not time for human being to take a great stride? What I want to emphasize is that I want to bear the torch in the hands of not adults filled with fixed ideas but in that of younger generation who are flexible and will be living in the coming years. So I talk little by little at schools and other places.
If you say "that is impossible" and increase nuclear weapons and military, or stir up contingency fear and repeat conflicts in the form of tyranny against the weak, soon we may invite a counterattack by suicidal terrorism targeting nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, leading to an early annihilation of human being. I say, to be or not to be depends on the acts of not the leaders but each one of us.
I do not think old thinking would easily change. But if one could reach two, and two reach four; if we extend the links to the world by using computers, there may be an unexpected outcome and more relations.
Even if it takes 100 years or 300 years, I would like to make a change from the bottom through steady efforts. The enemy exists not out side but inside of ourselves. If you make an effort to make a friend, others will become your friend, too. Let us think of the precious earth and human being, and protect them.