By Susan Southard
Wednesday is the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. At 11:02 a.m. Aug. 9, 1945, a five-ton plutonium bomb exploded a third of a mile above the city. Its blast winds tore through the city at two and a half times the speed of a Category 5 hurricane.
Two-year-old Masao Tomonaga was asleep in his home while his mother worked in another room. Within seconds of the blast, their house imploded on top of them. Remarkably, both survived. At 1.7 miles from the bomb's hypocenter, they were out of reach of its most intense infrared heat rays, which instantly carbonized human and animal flesh and vaporized the internal organs of those directly beneath the bomb.
By Yuko Yoneda
It started with just 12 of them. With a bold mission, this group of activists set sail to Amchitka island off Alaska to protest the detonation of an underground U.S. nuclear test. It was September 1971, and though the mission was initially unsuccessful, it was the beginning of what became Greenpeace, and just one of the many issues—the elimination of nuclear weapons—that the environmental organization would campaign endlessly against.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
To mark anniversary of atomic bombing, mayor and survivors urge world leaders to visit and push for disarmament
By Nadia Prupis
To mark the grim anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima 71 years ago, the mayor of Nagasaki on Tuesday urged leaders of nuclear powers to visit the cities and see what their weapons are capable of.
"I appeal to the leaders of states which possess nuclear weapons and other countries and to the people of the world: Please come and visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima," Mayor Tomihisa Taue said during a ceremony for the occasion.
Greenpeace / Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert
"Find out for yourselves what happened to human beings beneath the mushroom cloud," Taue said. "Knowing the facts becomes the starting point for thinking about a future free of nuclear weapons."
The mayor also delivered a Peace Declaration calling for global communities to use their "collective wisdom" to work for disarmament.
The Asahi Shimbun reports:
Taue also urged the Japanese government to depart from its reliance on the U.S. nuclear deterrence.
He proposed that Japan enshrine into law the nation's longstanding non-nuclear principles of not producing, not possessing and not allowing the entry of nuclear weapons into the country.
In addition, the mayor called for the establishment of a Northeast Asia nuclear weapons-free zone, in which nuclear powers promise not to use nuclear weapons for intimidation or attacks.
In May, President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, which Taue said "showed the rest of the world the importance of seeing, listening and feeling things for oneself."
But the mayor spent much of his address outlining the challenge of building a nuclear-free world, particularly if other global leaders refuse to participate in the process. He criticized representatives of nuclear states who did not attend a recent United Nations working group on disarmament, held in Geneva.
Wishes in Nagasaki Peace Park. Kanko / Flickr
"Now is the time for all of you to bring together as much of your collective wisdom as you possibly can and act so that we do not destroy the future of mankind," he said Tuesday.
During the ceremony, one survivor called on the government not to rely on the U.S. "nuclear umbrella"—a guarantee by a nuclear state to protect a non-nuclear ally state—and for weaponized nations to adopt a "no first use" policy.
"It is our hope that Japan will establish an honorable position for itself in the movement to prohibit nuclear weapons," said the survivor, 80-year-old Toyokazu Ihara, who was nine at the time of the bombing and lost his mother, sister and brother to illnesses stemming from radiation.
Another survivor, Miyako Takashim, 88, who lost her mother, sister and brother in the bombing, said, "I am praying for world peace. I believe nuclear weapons will be eliminated if people around the world imagine what damage an atomic bomb attack would cause them."
The ceremony included a moment of silence at 11:02 a.m., the time at which the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki 71 years ago. An estimated 74,000 people died by the end of 1945 as a result of the attack.