WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST A & H BOMBS
INTERNATIONAL MEETING AUGUST 2ND-4TH
The Representative of the Steering Committee, Mr. Hiroshi Taka
Members of the Steering Committee ; Distinguish Guests; Invited Guests
Ladies & Gentlemen
I bring you warm greetings and lots of love from the members of the Fiji Nuclear Test Veterans Association and their families in Fiji. First of all I would like to express my gratitude and many thanks to God our heavenly father for making this opportunity for all of us to fellowship together in Japan this week.
Secondly, I would like to express the gratitude and many thanks to the Organisers and Steering Committee of this Conference for your generous financial assistance, which makes it possible for me to be here to participate at this World Conference. We thank you so much for your kindness in sending a delegation to Fiji in May this year (Arigato go daimas).
My name is Tekoti Rotan and I was born on the island of Banaba (Oceans island) in the Republic of Kiribati. At that time, Kiribati was under the British colonial government as Gilberts and Ellice Islands. During the second world war, Ocean Island, which is my ancestral home was occupied by the Japanese forces.
During the war, my family and other members of the Banaban community were uprooted and taken away to the island of Kosrae in the Caroline Islands, as prisoners of war. I spent the rest of the war years on Kosrae. As prisoner of war I was educated in Japanese school on the island of Kosrae. At that time I could speak and write in Japanese.
In 1945, my community was further uprooted and we were brought by the British government to be settled on the island of Rabi in FIJI. The reason was because our home land Banaba or Ocean Island, was considered unsuitable for settlement as the result of phosphate mining and further mining.
IN 1958, I was among the Fijian servicemen drafted to Christmas Island to assist the British servicemen in preparing Christmas island for British nuclear tests. I will not go into details of what we went through as our stories are documented in the Book, Kirisimasi, which was published by of the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, the Fiji-based secretariat of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) Movement.
Upon my return from Christmas Island in 1959, I joined the Fiji Civil Service when the Naval Reserve was disbanded. After resigning from the Fiji Civil Service I went into politics and served as an elected member of the Rabi Council of Leaders. From 1992 to 1994, I was a member of Parliament in the Republic of Kiribati.
FIJI NUCLEWAR TEST VETERANS ASSOCIATION:
T he Association was formed in 1999 with two main objectives:
(i) To campaign for recognition of our service and
(ii) To campaign for compensation
From 1999, I have served as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Association. We have to fight for these objectives because our service on Christmas Island was not recognized as a military or active service by our government, and as such we are not entitled to the "After Care Fund" provided by Government for retired gactivehservicemen. (Active servicemen were those who actually served in combat in battlefields from which we were excluded).
On these two important issues, I am happy to report that our government has recognized our service on Christmas as an active service by amending the After Care Fund act to include the veterans. This now enables the veterans to receive $50 (Fiji dollars= 2620 yen) per month allowance. Our spouses are also entitled to the same amount and our children receive twenty-five dollars per month if they are under 16 years of age.
FAMILY HISTORY HEALTH SURVEY:
This survey was started in 2000 by the current committee to enable them to keep track of all the members, and in particular to find out about their health problems if any. This is a follow up of the first survey carried out in 1999 by (PCRC) Pacific Concern Resource Centre. At this survey only 266 of the 300 that went to Christmas Island were able to be traced. The current survey is yet to be completed, so far we are only able to trace 115 of the 266 recorded in the First Survey. We hope to find the rest of the members during this survey.
The current survey produced some frightening findings of the diseases suffered by our members. e.g. some children were born deformed; and the veterans suffer various types of illnesses which we could not explain the cause.
The Gensuikyo delegation to Fiji was a big boost to the morale of our members and a great assistance to all our members to find out for themselves the cause of their illnesses. We have a lot of work to do in this survey and we hope your Committee will continue to provide us with qualified medical personnel during the course of our survey.
However, our Association is very weak financially, as most of our members (99%) are unemployed. From the small monthly allowance of $50 we have to contribute one/two dollars per month for the up keep of our Association. We are able to come this far mainly by the assistance of the PCRC which provided office backup service. There is a need to have our own office set up, this we cannot do without outside assistance. Our members badly need medical service to take care of their illnesses, this they cannot afford with the very small monthly allowance they are entitled to at present. Foreign visit to Fiji by qualified medical personnel to provide a free medical consultation is one sure way to ease the suffering of our members.
OUR MESSAGE: To Our Friends in the Hibakusha Movement:
We stand in solidarity with you as we know what you had suffered as a result of the bombing in WW2. We consider the bombing of Hiroshima on August 2nd and Nagasaki on August 6th 1945 to be an atrocity to the human race because it involved the mass killing of women and children. We support our joint call for compensation for the suffering endured.
I WISH TO ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING ISSUES:
(1) RELIEF This could mean a two way relief for our Hibakusha friends and all of us veterans of various nuclear tests. T HE QUESTION TO ASK OURSELVES IS : Relief from what?
I list the following in the context of our Fiji experience as the basis of our discussion, and welcome your input to make amendment to the list. We seek relief
(i) For our sufferings, damages and pain due to the various illnesses suffered that we have passed on to our children;
(ii) Assistance for bedridden veterans
(iii) Childless couple
(iv) Medical requirement
(v) Old age
The suffering I refer to is the trauma and mental suffering by the veteran, the wife and the family as a whole as they see a member of their family sick with some serious illness unknown to the family.
The suffering can be physical too, e.g. a couple on their own in the village, if the veteran fell sick and incapable, there is no one to support the family; bring food from the farm, go fishing etc. If this was caused by normal sickness there is nothing we can do about it to complain, but if this was caused by radiation sickness as we claim it to be, then are we not entitled for compensation? For normal sickness we can practice precaution, but for radiation sickness, you are dead, because there is nothing you can do to prevent it . Am I right here?
CHILDLESS COUPLE: Godfs plan for a family is to make sure that there is help at all times, while you are young as well as when old. We have a case in FIJI where the spouse is suffering because there is no one to collect food etc., and no income to the family because the main supporter of the family is lying sick.
This case is further compounded when the husband dies and the spouse is on her own with no one to love and care for her. In Fiji if the veteran dies, the spouse only receives 60% of their pension. If IMPOTENCE IS ONE EFFECT OF RADIATION, then surely the childless couple are entitled to some form of compensation? We in Fiji feel that the "After Care Allowance" entitlement of the veterans should also be paid to members of our family who fall ill because of radiation types of illnesses.
Medical requirements: In our Fiji context we need relief for this because we do not have the means to pay for the medical cures for diseases we are not responsible for.
For OLD AGE : we feel that those affected by radiation-allied sickness should be provided with financial relief to make their old age days a bearable one.
Once again we ask ourselves the same question. Compensation for what?
I list the following in the Fiji context for discussion:
(i) Suffering damages and pain.
(ii) Deformed children
(iii) Still born children
(iv) Loss of husband
I will not explain my reasons for these but leave it for discussion and questions. Our views in Fiji is that all veterans should be compensated if there disability caused by radiation sicknesses. Likewise members of our family should be paid the same compensation as the cause of their illness is through nuclear radiation.
Once again I repeat our support to Hibakusha in all their effort to claim relief and compensation. We as an Association standby to offer moral support and physical support within our means. We are prepared to take part in your signature drive to support one of the goals of this conference
ALL NUCLEAR VICTIMS:
(I) Civil or Military deserve to be supported.
(II) All our associations or groups worldwide should work together demonstrating our support for each other.
(III) We in this Conference should come up with a unified proposal to our National governments to discourage nuclear powers to produce any form of nuclear matter, nuclear weapons of all types.
(IV) And finally to lobby our governments very strongly to take positive steps of any form to discourage the use of nuclear weapons and to prevent an outbreak of nuclear war or nuclear disasters.
"GO TELL THE WORLD".
(i) The horror and extent of damages suffered in Hiroishima and Nagasaki.
W e in Fiji are not aware of the intensity of the sufferings as a result of the atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, until we from Mr Yonai who was a member of the delegation from Gensuikyo that came to Fiji in May this year. Now that we have learnt more and seen things, we should go back to our countries and tell our people about the extent of damage and suffering suffered.. This will enlist their support to our cause and goal at this conference.
(ii) The extent of serious illness suffered;
(iii) DECLARE A WORLD BLACK DAY, to be held worldwide by representatives of all groups/associations represented here in this conference.
(iii) World fundraising Day, to raise fund s to assist one another archieve our goals and reduce sufferings of our members
CONCLUSIONS: I would like to share our Fiji experience with you. In our struggle to again recognition, pension and compensation, we always put God first in all our deliberations, actions. We dedicate a day each week for all our members to pray to God wherever they are seeking guidance and assistance. We believe that what we have achieved so far is the result of a direct intervention by God in our affairs. Within three short months since the birth of our association, we have achieved the following :
(i) Recognition of our participation in the British Nuclear Testing. Our government has amended the Fiji Ex-Servicemen After Care Fund to include "GRAPPLE SQUADRON" inactive campaign to make the veterans entitled to an after care fund allowance of $50 Per month
(ii) War Pension. Approval has been given for Grapple Squadron participants to be eligible to War Pension. This has not been paid yet.
(iii) Compensation: On the same note government has made a small allocation in its Budgets 2002 for Compensation for Christmas Island veterans.
We believe Ladies and Gentlemen that we achieve all these in a short time through the direct intervention of heavenly father by providing such generous friends like Gensuikyo in Japan, our friends in Tahiti, Moruroa e Tatou who had a General Assembly on July 20th which one of our members attended and the Association of nuclear test veterans that held its meeting in Lyons, France in January this year. There are some achievements, and our efforts are gathering momemtum, but there is more that needs to be done.
I pray that God continues to bless our efforts towards our goals so that it can be made easier for us to achieve.
May Godfs blessings be upon us all as we work together for a world of peace without the threat of Nuclear weapons and war.
Thank you very much. Vinaka Vakalevu.
FIJI NUCLEAR TEST VETERANS ASSOCIATION
AUGUST 2-4TH 2002
PACIFIC CONCERNS RESOURCE CENTRE is the Secretariat of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement. It is registered in the Fiji Islands under the Charitable Trusts Act. It is a Non-Governmental Organisation in General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.