A declaration for peace


The atomic bombs detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, were small and rudimentary nuclear weapons, only 10 and 12 kilotons respectively. Yet they reduced these once beautiful cities to complete ashes and caused unspeakable human suffering, killing nearly a quarter of a million people instantly and leaving those who survived the initial bombings to suffer various radiation related diseases for the rest of their lives.

For 76 years, the hibakusha have been pleading for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

Yet, during these 76 years, there has been a tremendous “progress” made in the science and technology of nuclear warfare, squandering precious resources that could have been used for the development of humanity and the elimination of poverty and ignorance.

Today, the size of a nuclear warhead is measured, not by kilotons, but by megatons, and the destructive power of today’s nuclear weapons is at least ten thousand times more than those that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Thousands of nuclear warheads still loom in silos and on submarines around the world, posing a real and imminent threat to our very existence.

Any use of nuclear weapons, no matter how limited in scope, would have catastrophic humanitarian, environmental, and economic consequences, affecting several generations to come.

Citing the tension and the high level of mistrust in today’s world, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres alerted us all that the world today stands on the “brink of a new cold war.”

On July 7, 2017, however, history was made at the United Nations General Assembly, when 122 countries voted to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

The Treaty received its fiftieth ratification on October 24, 2020.

Thus, as of January 22, 2021, the Treaty became a binding international law to categorically ban the development, testing, production, stockpiling and transfer of nuclear weapons.

Yet, the nine nations that already have active nuclear weapons programs have so far ignored the Treaty and maintain the same nuclear policies.

I, therefore, join today all the hibakusha in Japan and elsewhere in pleading with all conscientious and peace-loving people to continue to pray for a peaceful, compassionate and nuclear-free world, and to demand your congressional representatives to move swiftly to ratify and implement the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka is an atomic bomb survivor from Nagasaki, Japan, and a retired United Methodist minister. He writes from Daly City, Calif. The views expressed in the preceding commentary are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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