Closing Plenary
2001 World Conference against A & H Bombs-Nagasaki
August 9, 2001

Yamamoto Seiichi
Nagasaki City Council on Hibakusha Relief Measures

I would like to extend my greetings to the participants of the World Conference against A and H Bombs, Nagasaki. I am from the Nagasaki City Council on Hibakusha Relief Measures. I would like to report on the extension of the area in Nagasaki, officially recognized as having affected by the atomic bomb.

Fifty-six years ago today, a single atomic bomb dropped by the United States burned 74,000 people to death and injured 75,000 people. Today, we still find many people suffering from after-effects of the bomb. In Nagasaki City and its six neighboring towns, there are a number of Hibakusha who are not officially recognized as having affected by the bomb.

The area officially recognized as having exposed to the bomb is delineated based on the administrative districts at the time of the bombing. So, the shape of the area is not circular. It stretches 12 km from south to north and 7 km from east to west. We have requested the Japanese Government a number of times that the area should be extend to a concentric circle of 12 km from ground zero. The Government has rejected the request on the ground that gthere are no scientific grounds to prove it.h So the city and the Nagasaki prefectural government submitted a report on the residual plutonium, as to scientifically prove our case. This too, the Government rejected on the ground that any health effects from the residual plutonium could not be found.

After half a century, the number of Hibakusha living outside the recognized area has dropped from 67,000 to 8,900. There was a growing anger to the government, if it was waiting for them to die out. Two years ago Nagasaki city took the initiative of conducting a Hibakusha survey and then it was analyzed by the Medical Department of Nagasaki University. It was found that 24.7% of the Hibakusha living outside of the area suffer post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Over 60% of them claim ill health, and when averaged out, a Hibakusha has 3.4 diseases. We had also compiled Hibakushafs testimonies and named the book gPlease listen to the voice of our heart.h We took this to the Government whey we lobbied the Government. On August 9th last year, then Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro said that the Government should consider the expansion of the area. There was also a talk between the Hibakusha living outside the official area and the Minister of Health of Welfare was held for the first time on the issue.

In this talk, Kawanami Norio from the eastern Nagasaki, who was 10 years old and 7.5 km away from ground zero at the time of the bombing spoke on his experience. gI was dazzled by a strong flash and the blast, which smashed our house into pieces. Soon, it rained heavily and the ashes were floating everywhere. My one-year-old sister started to lose her hair, which had turned red, then died 2 years later. A year after the bombing, my mother gave birth to a child, my little brother, who was stillborn. His body was black. Seven children in my neighborhood died one after another.h He then asked the Minister for the expansion of the area so that the Hibakusha would be treated equally.

Pressed by our movements, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Labor set up an inquiry commission on the issue. Commissionfs final report was issued on August 1st this year, which concluded, gthere is a high possibility that the physical and mental health of the Hibakusha living outside of the officially recognized area as having affected by the bomb are adversary affected by the bombing.h However, the report denied that the causality between the disease and radiation. Today, as Prime Minister Koizumi Jun-ichiro speaks at the ceremony in Nagasaki, we are watching closely what he will have to say on the issue.

In conclusion, I want to express our commitment to continue this effort for the justice of the Hibakusha. We will also continue to urge the Government to break away from under the U.S. nuclear umbrella and to take leadership for the abolition of nuclear weapons as the only country with the experience of atomic bombings, so that there will be no more Nagasakis. Let us work together.

To the 2001 Wolrd Conference against A & H Bombs