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"[The Arms Control Association is an] 'exceptional organization that effectively addresses pressing national and international challenges with an impact that is disproportionate to its small size.'" 

– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
January 19, 2011
Japan

Getting Back on the Path to a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

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Keynote Remarks by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, for the "International Symposium for Peace: The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition," sponsored by Asahi Shimbun, Nagasaki city government, and the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace

Nagasaki, Japan
July 30, 2022

The English live streaming can be accessed at https://youtu.be/k80HSwG8YCg at 9:00 pm U.S. Eastern time (July 29) / 10:00 am Japanese Standard Time (July 30). 

Over the long course of the nuclear age, millions of people—from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the United States, Russia, and around the globe—have stood up to demand meaningful action to halt arms racing and nuclear testing, to reduce and number and role of nuclear weapons, and move toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

When working together on shared goals through smart campaigns, networks of citizen activists, nongovernmental organizations, engaged scholars, scientists, diplomats, faith leaders, social and environmental justice organizations, survivors of nuclear war and nuclear testing, along with dedicated local and national decision-makers have changed the course nuclear history for the better. Among other successes, we have:

  • raised awareness of the existential dangers posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear war.
  • pushed U.S. and Russian leaders to halt arms buildups and to negotiate the nuclear arms control and reduction agreements, including New START in 2010 and its extension in 2021.
  • demanded legislation and treaties to prohibit nuclear weapons testing.
  • forced the cancellation of new and destabilizing nuclear weapons programs.
  • spurred the negotiation and entry into force of 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

But there is no room for complacency.

The Growing Risk of Nuclear War and Nuclear Arms Racing

The nuclear weapons threat has not gone away. Nuclear competition is accelerating. The risk that a regional military confrontation could escalate to a nuclear conflict is real and growing.

The danger of an all-out arms race and nuclear weapons use has been exacerbated by President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a full-scale attack Ukraine and his threats of nuclear use against any states who might interfere militarily.

  • The war has significantly increased the risk of fighting between NATO and Russian forces, which could—given both sides’ nuclear weapons use policies—quickly lead to nuclear escalation.
  • Russia’s attack on Ukraine has underscored the fact that nuclear weapons don’t prevent major wars. Rather, they can facilitate aggression by nuclear-armed states and make wars waged by nuclear-armed states far more dangerous—especially when nuclear-armed states become pitted against one another, dangerously increasing the risk of miscalculation and miscommunication.

Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has also derailed the strategic stability and arms control dialogue between Washington and Moscow, made a mockery of the repeated security assurances that nuclear-armed states will not attack non-nuclear states, and created a major challenge for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime.

Russia’ invasion of Ukraine follows more than a decade of worsening tensions between the world’s nine-nuclear armed states.

Since New START was completed more than a decade ago, the U.S.-Russian dialogue on disarmament and risk reduction has stalled. Treaty compliance disputes have dominated the bilateral U.S.-Russian agenda, and key treaties that have helped keep the post-Cold War peace, such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty, are now gone. The only remaining treaty that verifiably limits the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals—the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START)—will expire in early 2026.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Washington are both spending tens of billions of dollars each year to replace and upgrade their deadly strategic arsenals. Russia is also threatening to deploy exotic new strategic systems, including nuclear-armed torpedoes. President Putin recently suggested he might put nuclear weapons-capable missiles and aircraft in Belarus.

And in recent days, the U.S. Congress voted to overrule President Biden’s recommendation to cancel funding for a new nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile—an expensive and destabilizing weapon proposed by the Trump administration that would, if developed and deployed, prompt China and Russia to develop similar capabilities and accelerate the arms race.

Although China, France, and the U.K. have engaged in discussions on nuclear terms and doctrines through the N-5 Process, they have stubbornly refused to seriously engage in talks on ideas and proposals that would cap or reduce their own deadly arsenals.

Instead, China is responding to a more adversarial relationship with the United States by moving quickly diversify its relatively smaller nuclear stockpile of some 300 nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom announced last year that it would increase the cap on the size of its submarine-based nuclear arsenal.

The only genuinely positive development on nuclear disarmament in recent years has been the so-called Humanitarian Initiative, designed to highlight the existential dangers of nuclear weapons and stigmatize nuclear weapons and the threat of their use, which led to the negotiation of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) by a group of more than 130 states.

The treaty represents a constructive new approach to reinforce the taboos against nuclear weapons, bolster the NPT, and create more pressure for meaningful action by the nuclear possessor states to verifiably cap, reduce, and eventually eliminate their arsenals.

In June, in a welcome move, TPNW states parties, citing “increasingly strident nuclear rhetoric,” issued a consensus political statement declaring that “…any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. We condemn unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.”

Unfortunately, thus far, all nuclear-armed states have refused to engage with the TPNW.

It was also unfortunate that Japan decided not to attend the first meeting of states parties to the TPNW even though Prime Fumio Kishida said in October 2021: “I believe that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a very important treaty for a world without nuclear weapons.”

Going forward it is important that all states recognize that the TPNW is a positive contribution to global security and seriously consider joining the treaty. If Japan wants to be an effective “bridge-builder” between nuclear-armed states and non-nuclear weapon states, it will need to engage in upcoming meetings of the TPNW.

What Can Be Done?

Given the growing risk of nuclear war, we must do all we can to encourage our elected leaders to provide leadership and to take meaningful action.

Our actions will determine if we can succeed – or not – in moving away from dangerous nuclear policies and toward renewed and productive disarmament diplomacy.

An important catalyst for change is increasing societal awareness about the horrific effects of nuclear weapons use and the risks of nuclear war. Here in Japan, the persistent and dedicated efforts of the Hibakusha have been essential in helping the world understand the grave consequences of nuclear weapons. That work must continue in new and creative ways.

Now, some 77 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we must take inspiration from the Hibakusha and share their stories and testimonials even more widely ensure that successive generations understand that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

Just as importantly, we must also do our part to explain why national security strategies that depend on nuclear deterrence are inherently risky and will eventually fail, and that the only cure for nuclear war is the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Progress also will continue to depend on effective and sustained pressure of concerned citizens here in Japan and around the globe on their elected leaders to take meaningful action to reduce dangers and verifiably eliminate all nuclear weapons and to use every opportunity available to put the world on a safer course.

The 10th NPT Review Conference

The next global debate about nuclear weapons and the dangers they pose will take place at the 10th NPT Review Conference at UN headquarters in New York.

The review conference is a critical opportunity for the treaty’s 191 states-parties to reinforce the norms against nuclear weapons, to strongly condemn any threat of nuclear weapons use, and to intensify the pressure for action to fulfill the treaty’s Article VI disarmament provisions.

Just as they did when states-parties gathered for 1995 Review Conference to negotiate the terms for the extension of the treaty, states-parties must produce results.

At that pivotal NPT conference 27 year ago, NPT states parties committed to the “complete elimination of nuclear weapons,” and endorsed specific disarmament actions, including further nuclear reductions, the conclusion of talks on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and more.

Today, the deficit in disarmament diplomacy and the growing nuclear danger means that this is no ordinary NPT review conference.

As always, the conference must review, comprehensively implementation and compliance on all major political commitments and legal obligations that states have undertaken.

But make no mistake: history will judge the success or failure of this pivotal meeting as on whether or not delegations can reach agreement on a meaningful and updated disarmament action plan, and whether governments make good on that plan in the months and years that follow.

All states need to act with a sense of urgency, a spirit of cooperation, and a determination to produce meaningful results that transcend old fault lines.

Even if a consensus final document is not attainable, a supermajority of states should seek to chart the path forward through a joint declaration.

One key issue this conference must address is the potential collapse of the U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control system.

In early 2021, within days the original expiration date of New START, President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin wisely agreed to extend the treaty by another five years, and re-launched a “Strategic Stability Dialogue” in the fall of 2021 with the goal of negotiating a new agreement or agreements to supersede New START and address other issues of mutual concern.

Shortly after Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S.-Russian dialogue on strategic stability and arms control was put on indefinite hold.

Without new arrangements to supersede New START, there would not be any limits on the size or composition of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972. Both sides recognize the danger but have not yet agreed to resume their dialogue.

“Our progress must continue beyond the New START extension,” Biden wrote June 2 in a message to the Arms Control Association. “Even as we rally the world to hold Russia accountable for its brutal and unprovoked war on Ukraine, we must continue to engage Russia on issues of strategic stability,” Biden wrote. “Today—perhaps more than any other time since the Cold War—we must work to reduce the risk of an arms race or nuclear escalation.”

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin said June 30 that “Russia is open to dialogue on ensuring strategic stability, preserving agreements on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and improving the situation in arms control.”

Unfortunately, officials on both sides have equivocated on when the dialogue might resume.Delegations at the NPT Review Conference, including Japan, must be vocal and united in calling upon them to do so.

Some NPT nuclear-armed states and their allies may bemoan the fact that the environment for disarmament progress is “challenging.” We can expect some of these states will continue to claim that many past NPT commitments on disarmament have been overtaken by events. Disarmament progress has never been simple or easy, but such deflections are irresponsible.

Instead, the five nuclear-armed NPT states should acknowledge their past disarmament commitments, work with other states-parties on a pragmatic action plan that sets new benchmarks and deadlines, and pledge to act with the urgency that the grave nuclear weapons threat demands.

Notwithstanding the different views on how to fulfill past NPT commitments and obligations, nuclear-armed and non-nuclear-weapon states should cooperate on a updated disarmament action plan that could include the following elements:

  • A call for the United States and Russia to conclude talks on New START follow-on agreements that achieve further cuts in nuclear warheads and delivery systems no later than 2025 and, pending the conclusion of such arrangements, agree not to exceed the central limits of New START until such time as they enter into force.
  • A pledge by the other NPT nuclear-armed states—China, France, and the U.K.—to engage in bilateral or multilateral nuclear risk reduction talks and to agree to freeze the size of their nuclear arsenals.
  • A call for NPT states to agree to begin disarmament talks in a bilateral or a multilateral format no later than 2025.
  • A call for the five NPT nuclear-armed states to update their 1995 negative security assurances and to jointly or individually affirm that they will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT.
  • A call for the remaining holdout states to initiate their respective processes to ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and, pending the treaty’s entry into force, negotiate and implement new, voluntary confidence-building measures to address concerns about compliance with the treaty’s “zero-yield” prohibition.
  • A call for all states to refrain from developing and deploying nuclear-armed cruise and hypersonic missiles, as other new types of warheads and delivery systems.
  • A recognition that because the use of nuclear weapons would produce catastrophic humanitarian consequences, “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought and no state should, under any circumstances, directly or indirectly threaten the use of nuclear weapons.”

Even if a consensus final document is not attainable due to tensions over the war in Ukraine, a supermajority of states should seek to chart the path forward through a joint declaration.

As Pope Francis cautioned when he visited Hiroshima in 2019: “The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral…. Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act.”

Thank you for listening.

Description: 

Keynote Remarks by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, for the "International Symposium for Peace: The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition," sponsored by Asahi Shimbun, Nagasaki city government, and the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace

Country Resources:

No Ordinary NPT Review Conference

June 2022
By Daryl G. Kimball

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, waged under the threat of nuclear weapons use, has delivered a shocking reminder of an existential danger that did not disappear with the end of the Cold War. Putin’s aggression increases the potential for a NATO-Russian conflict that could quickly escalate, lead to the use of nuclear weapons, and spiral into a global nuclear catastrophe. Although leaders in Washington and Moscow understand that a nuclear war cannot be won, their respective nuclear deterrence policies and the ongoing fighting make it more likely that a nuclear war could be fought.

United Nations Headquarters. (UN Photo/Joao Araujo Pinto)Putin’s decision to discard diplomacy and invade Ukraine puts the 77-year taboo against nuclear weapons use to the test. It also has derailed the strategic stability and arms control dialogue between Washington and Moscow, made a mockery of the repeated security assurances that nuclear-armed states will not attack non-nuclear states, and created a major challenge for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime.

But the international community’s pushback against Russia’s nuclear bullying has been far too tepid.

The next global debate about nuclear weapons will take place in August at the 10th NPT Review Conference. In the face of the growing danger of nuclear war, this is a critical opportunity for the treaty’s 191 states-parties to reinforce the norms against nuclear weapons, to strongly condemn any threat of nuclear weapons use, and to intensify the pressure for action to fulfill the treaty’s Article VI provision “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”

Responsible nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states cannot afford simply to muddle through the month-long meeting. Russia’s violent assault on Ukraine is a clarion call for responsible NPT states to rally around a meaningful nuclear risk and disarmament action plan. Even if a consensus final document is not attainable due to tensions over the war, a supermajority of states should seek to chart the path forward through a joint declaration.

Putin’s war has derailed for now U.S.-Russian talks on further cuts in their bloated strategic arsenals and new agreements to limit short- and intermediate-range nuclear weapons, but the United States and Russia, as well as other NPT states-parties, are still bound by their disarmament obligations. The last remaining U.S.-Russian arms reduction agreement, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), expires in early 2026. Without commonsense arms control guardrails, the dangers of unconstrained global nuclear arms racing will only grow.

U.S. President Joe Biden should direct his team to embrace a bold, specific NPT action plan, which, more than any rhetoric from U.S. diplomats, would show that his administration wants to be on the right side of history rather than resisting the overdue action that is needed to reduce nuclear dangers.

Other states cannot afford to wait for the United States to lead or allow the other NPT nuclear-weapon states (China, France, and the United Kingdom) to escape accountability. Robust, constructive leadership from other NPT states-parties, such as Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, South Africa, and Sweden, will be needed. Leaders of the humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons and the Non-Aligned Movement also have crucial roles to play. Their previous statements and working papers suggest these states share common positions that would allow them to advance a common nuclear risk and disarmament action agenda that:

  • calls on the United States and Russia to resume their strategic stability dialogue, begin negotiations on New START follow-on agreements, and issue unilateral reciprocal commitments to respect the central limits of New START after 2026;
  • calls on all NPT nuclear-armed states to freeze their nuclear stockpiles and engage in disarmament negotiations;
  • endorses a moratorium on intermediate-range nuclear weapons and the deployment of new short-range nuclear weapons;
  • calls for all states to respect the de facto global moratorium on nuclear testing and to negotiate on-site confidence-building measures pending the entry into force of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty;
  • reaffirms that any use of nuclear weapons would produce catastrophic humanitarian consequences and that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” nor should any state threaten the use of nuclear weapons;
  • urges all states to phase out “launch under attack” postures and refrain from offensive cyberattacks on nuclear command, control, and communication systems; and
  • calls for the start of negotiations on legally binding security guarantees to prevent unprovoked attacks by nuclear-weapon states against non-nuclear-weapon states.

At this time of heightened nuclear danger, responsible NPT states must act with urgency to reinforce norms against nuclear weapons, push back against Russia’s nuclear bullying, and strengthen their commitment to reverse the arms race, avoid nuclear war, and eliminate nuclear weapons.

At this time of heightened nuclear danger, responsible NPT states must act with urgency to reinforce norms against nuclear weapons, push back against Russia’s nuclear bullying, and strengthen their commitment to reverse the arms race, avoid nuclear war, and eliminate nuclear weapons.

U.S., Japan Reaffirm Alliance in White House Meeting


May 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga strongly reaffirmed the U.S.-Japanese alliance during Biden’s first in-person meeting as president with a foreign leader, at the White House on April 16, calling it a “cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.” The leaders also described a “shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific [region] based on our commitment to universal values and common principles and the promotion of inclusive economic prosperity.”

U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga take part in a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. on April 16. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)In a press conference after the meeting, Biden emphasized U.S. commitments to Japan’s defense and “ironclad support for…our shared security.”

The leaders’ formal joint statement focused on many strategic concerns, including global threats from COVID-19 and climate change, human rights in Hong Kong and among the Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region, and the denuclearization of North Korea.

They expressed “their concerns over Chinese activities that are inconsistent with the international rules-based order, including the use of economic and other forms of coercion.” They said they “oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea,” underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and objected to China’s “unlawful maritime activities” in the South China Sea. They pledged to work jointly on the rapid development, security, and openness of fifth-generation communications technologies and “to rely on trustworthy vendors.” They also recognized the need for cooperation with China “on areas of common interest.”

Their vision of strengthening the U.S.-Japanese alliance relies on having Japan bolster its national defense capabilities as part of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security that the two countries signed in 1960. The leaders committed “to deepen defense cooperation across all domains, including cyber and space, and to bolster extended deterrence.”

This would involve following through on plans to relocate some U.S. Marine Corps troops from Okinawa to Guam and working with allies and partners such as the Quad, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the trilateral alliance with South Korea.

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in Washington described the Biden-Suga comments on Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and the South China Sea as “harmful” and going “far beyond the scope of normal development of bilateral relations.” Taiwan Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang embraced the joint statement and underscored “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”—SANG-MIN KIM

U.S., Japan Reaffirm Alliance in White House Meeting

Resources for Journalists

Reality Check: The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

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Seventy-five years ago on July 16 1945, the nuclear age began with the world's first nuclear weapons test explosion in the New Mexico desert. In this annotated video essay from the Arms Control Association, we describe the events that transpired three weeks later with the atomic attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A more detailed review of the geopolitical, environmental, and humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, the rise of a global disarmament movement, and the work of the hibakusha (survivors of the nuclear attacks) is available in our special July/August 2020 issue of Arms Control Today, available at ArmsControl.org/75years.


TRANSCRIPT:

On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert, the United States detonated the world’s first nuclear weapons test explosion.

Three weeks later, U.S. bombers carried out surprise atomic bomb attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

At 8:15 in the morning on August 6, the uranium-based atomic bomb "Little Boy" was used on Hiroshima, home of approximately 320,000 people.

The blast packed a destructive force equivalent to about 15 kilotons of TNT.

In minutes, half of the city ... vanished.

The explosion produced a supersonic shock wave followed by extreme winds that remained above hurricane force over three kilometers from ground zero.

A secondary and equally devastating reverse wind followed, flattening and severely damaging homes and buildings several kilometers further away.

The intense heat of the Hiroshima bomb reached several million degrees Celsius and scorched flesh and other flammable materials over three kilometers away.

Flash burns from the primary heatwave caused most of the deaths at Hiroshima.

Three days later, U.S. leaders ordered “Fat Man,” a plutonium-based bomb with an explosive yield of 21 kilotons, dropped on Nagasaki, home to over 260,000 people.

The attack occurred two days earlier than planned, 10 hours after the Soviets entered the war against Japan, and as Japanese leaders were contemplating surrender.

Intense firestorms ravaged each city for hours after each attack. They leveled neighborhoods only partially damaged by the blast itself, killing more victims trapped under fallen debris.

Black rain laden with radioactive soot and dust contaminated areas far away from ground zero.

By the end of 1945, the blast, heat, and radiation of the nuclear attacks had killed an estimated 74,000 in Nagasaki and 140,000 in Hiroshima.

Many of those who survived the nuclear attacks would die from radiation-induced illnesses for years to come.

Historians now largely agree that the United States did not need to drop the bombs to avoid an invasion of Japan and bring an end to World War II.

Though aware of alternatives, President Harry Truman authorized use of the bombs in part to further the U.S. government’s postwar geostrategic aims.

Survivors of the nuclear attacks, known as hibakusha, and their descendants formed the nucleus of the Japanese and global nuclear disarmament movements.

The remaining hibakusha and organizations around the globe continue to work for a nuclear weapons-free world “so that succeeding generations of people will not see hell on earth ever again.”

Today, nine states still possess more than 13,000 nuclear weapons.

The risk of nuclear war is still with us.

To reduce this danger, we must freeze and reverse the arms race and, ultimately, eliminate nuclear weapons.

For more information:
ArmsControl.org/75years

Written by Daryl G. Kimball
Edited and Produced by Tony Fleming

Photos Credits:
Atomic Heritage Foundation ・ Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
UN/Nagasaki International Cultural Hall ・ UN/Yosuke Yamahata
Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images ・ Joyce Naltchayan/AFP via Getty Images
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images ・ Junko Kimura/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images ・ Peter Parks/Getty Images

Description: 

Seventy-five years ago, the nuclear age began with the world's first nuclear weapons test explosion in the New Mexico desert. In this annotated "silent film"-style video essay from the Arms Control Association, we learn about the events that transpired three weeks later with the atomic attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Country Resources:

Freeing the World of Nuclear Weapons: Arms Control Today interviews Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui


July/August 2020

As the site of the first atomic bomb attack, Hiroshima has served as a vital center for education about nuclear weapons and their effects. The people of the city, along with those of Nagasaki, have been steadfast in their advocacy for abolishing nuclear weapons. The survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings on Japan, the hibakusha, have worked to communicate their experience to global citizens and leaders. Kazumi Matsui, Hiroshima’s mayor since 2011, has played a major role in that effort. He serves as president of Mayors for Peace, an assembly of thousands of cities worldwide devoted to protecting cities from the scourge of war and mass destruction.

In a 2016 ceremony, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui (right) offers new names to add to the list of the atomic bomb deaths that is kept at the Memorial Cenotaph in Hiroshima. More than 290,000 names have been inscribed inside the memorial's stone vault. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Hiroshima is planning to scale back large gatherings and instead hold virtual events marking 75 years since the August 6, 1945, bombing. Matsui spoke with Arms Control Today on June 23.

Arms Control Today: Seventy-five years after the first nuclear test explosion and the atomic bombings that destroyed your city and Nagasaki, what message do you, as the president of Mayors for Peace, and the people of Hiroshima, including the hibakusha, have for others around the world about living under the dark shadow of nuclear weapons?

Mayor Kazumi Matsui: In August 1945, two single atomic bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki instantly reduced them to rubble, taking more than 210,000 precious lives. With almost 75 years since the bombings, the hibakusha, those who barely survived, still suffer from the harmful aftereffects of radiation. While their minds and bodies are in pain, they, together with other members of the public, continue to make their appeal that “no one else should suffer as we have.”

However, today, the nuclear-armed states possess about 13,000 nuclear warheads. The destructive power of every one of them is far above the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These weapons could be used by accident or for terrorism. The current situation is far from what the citizens of Hiroshima, including the hibakusha, have been seeking for so long.

This is because the nuclear-armed states and their allies consider nuclear deterrence as essential for their security assurance, prioritizing the pursuit of only their own misguided national interest. However, this poses a grave threat to the survival of us all, the whole of humanity.

The current global coronavirus pandemic is a transboundary crisis that touches us all. We are experiencing firsthand that we can confront and defeat common threats through solidarity and cooperation. Based on what we have learned from this experience, we must build a robust global coalition of citizens everywhere to address and solve global security challenges, especially nuclear weapons. We must not take action based on self-centered nationalism.

I sincerely hope that everyone in the world will share in the hibakusha’s message and join us in realizing a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons.

ACT: There are now fewer and fewer hibakusha and fewer people who have witnessed the devastation of the atomic bombings. What can be done over the next 75 years to remind current and future generations of the experiences and the messages of the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the health impacts of the use of nuclear weapons? Are we at risk of forgetting?

Matsui: The average age of the hibakusha has exceeded 82. With their unshakable conviction that “no one else should suffer as we have,” they have conveyed their experiences and their desire for peace to younger generations. However, if we leave this important task of passing down to the future generations to the hibakusha alone, then unfortunately, sooner or later, there will no longer be anyone able to do so.

In order to ensure that the hibakusha’s messages will be faithfully inherited and shared with future generations, the City of Hiroshima conducts various initiatives.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum exhibits belongings and photos of victims along with the words of their bereaved family members. Each item conveys to visitors the memories, sentiments, and the pain and sorrow of the victims and the bereaved. In addition, displays on the harm caused by the radiation tell the world of the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons. We encourage all world leaders and their fellow citizens to visit this museum to see the long-term catastrophic effects of the atomic bombings for themselves.

We also have a project to train A-bomb Legacy Successors, volunteers who pass down hibakusha experiences and their desire for peace on their behalf. Today, 131 successors are engaged in such activities.

We also make videos of hibakusha testimonies and collect memoirs in collaboration with the government. We are translating these into many languages so that all can understand their tragic experiences.

We intend to continue our efforts to enrich and expand these and make them available physically and online to share the messages of the hibakusha with the younger generation, who are the future of our society.

ACT: You and others have noted that "vital nuclear arms control agreements are being abandoned, budgets for development and production of new nuclear weapons are growing, and the potential for nuclear weapons use is too dangerous to tolerate. We are badly off course in efforts to honor the plea of the hibakusha and end the nuclear threat.” On an international level, how can and should the world get back on track toward nuclear disarmament?

Matsui: We see unilateralism is rising in the international community, and exclusivity and confrontational approaches have increased tensions between nations. Now, the international situation surrounding nuclear weapons is very unstable and uncertain. But why is that? Fundamentally, policymakers should tackle issues, even if they are rooted in local contexts, from a global perspective. However, they are more likely to jump to a short-term compromise, which results in the current international situation.

In order to break the status quo of dependence on nuclear deterrence and get back on track toward nuclear disarmament, it is essential to mobilize civil society’s shared values and create a supportive environment to give world leaders the courage to shift their policies.

Those shared values and desires of civil society aim at securing every citizen’s safety and welfare. As a nonpartisan organization made up of the very heads of local governments responsible for realizing that goal, Mayors for Peace implements a number of relevant initiatives.

Specifically, by utilizing its network of more than 7,900 member cities in 164 countries and regions, Mayors for Peace conveys the realities of the atomic bombings and works to increase the number of people who share in the hibakusha’s message. In this way, we can build a consensus among global civil society that the elimination of nuclear weapons is key to the peaceful future we need. This consensus will serve as the foundation for a collaborative international environment in which policymakers around the world can take decisive steps forward toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

I sincerely hope that all states, including the nuclear-armed ones, will engage in good-faith dialogue led by world leaders who wholeheartedly accept the earnest wish of the hibakusha, that is, the realization of nuclear weapons abolition as soon as possible. Through this, they will surely share wisdom and come up with an approach to make substantial progress in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

ACT: What more can be done at the local level, especially by the younger generations, wherever they may live, to support global efforts for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament?

Matsui: As I understand it, what civil society is sincerely seeking is to secure the public’s safety and welfare. But when it comes to big global challenges to the peaceful existence of humanity as a whole, such as the abolition of nuclear weapons, we should not limit our solutions to the framework of nation-states. Solutions should also be based on that sincere desire of civil society at the grass-roots level across the world. I believe that we should spread awareness of this throughout civil society.

My hope for younger generations, the future of our society, is that they will start thinking about the preciousness of their daily lives, which are supported by rules based on mutual trust. Hopefully, they will then understand that this is exactly what peace is and think what they can do to preserve it and take action.

In civil society, which is based on democracy, if every person develops such concepts of peace and takes action accordingly, it follows that policymakers will be elected who can realize our common wish. It is also not a dream for them to become policymakers themselves.

If more people come to envisage a future different from the past and work to realize it, they will become the drive to change the world.

Mayors for Peace puts emphasis on peace education aimed at raising awareness among younger generations as part of its intensified efforts. Through our various programs, we nurture young leaders who engage in peace activities proactively.

ACT: What more can Japan’s national leadership do to move us closer to the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons?

Matsui: As the only country to have experienced the devastation caused by nuclear attacks, Japan has a responsibility to share the hibakusha’s sincere desire to abolish nuclear weapons with the world and take the lead on various initiatives to make that a reality.

Japan has a role in international society as a “bridge” between the nuclear-armed states and the states-parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to foster and promote dialogue and cooperation. To realize abolition as soon as possible, Japan can and should do even more to fulfil this role. I hope this will happen from the bottom of my heart.

With the declining number of atomic bomb survivors, Hiroshima is leading efforts to share their experience for generations to come.

Setsuko Thurlow Remembers The Hiroshima Bombing


July/August 2020
By Setsuko Thurlow

I use the word “miracle” lightly, but really, 71 years ago I did experience a miracle, and here I am in your company today.

Setsuko Thurlow, speaks for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons at a conference in Madrid on February 24. She has spent decades describing her experience as a survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. (Photo: David Benito/Getty Images)I would like to share my personal experience with you. I know many of you are experts, arms control specialists; and I’m sure you’re quite well informed and knowledgeable of all kinds of human conditions, including the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. But I thought I would offer my personal and first-hand experience.

In 1945 I was a 13-year-old eighth grade student in the girls’ school, and on that very day, I was at the army headquarters. A group of about 30 girls had been recruited and trained to do the recording work of the top-secret information.

Can you imagine, a 13-year-old girl doing such important work? That shows how desperate Japan was.

I met the girls in front of the station before 8 o’clock; and at 8 o’clock, we were at the military headquarters, which was 1.8 kilometers from ground zero. I was on the second floor and started with a big assembly, and an officer gave us a pep talk.

This is the way you start proving your patriotism for emperor, that kind of thing. We said, “Yes sir, we will do our best.” When we said that, I saw the blaze of white flash in the window, and then I had the sensation of smoking up in the air.

When I regained consciousness in the total silence, I was trying to move my body. I couldn’t move it at all. I knew I was faced with death.

Then I started hearing whispering voices of the girls around me: “God, help me, mother help me. I’m here.” So, I knew I was surrounded by them, although I couldn’t see anybody in the darkness.

Then, suddenly, a strong male voice said, “Don’t give up. I’m trying to free you.” He kept shaking my left shoulder from behind and pushed me. We kept kicking, pushing; and you see, we’re finally coming to the door opening, get out that way, crawl, as quickly as possible.

By the time I came out of the building, it was on fire. That meant about 30 other girls who were with me in that same place were burning to death. But two other girls managed to come out, so three of us looked around.

Although that happened in the morning, it was very dark, dark as twilight, and I started seeing some moving black object approaching to me. They happened to be the streams of human beings slowly shuffling from the center part of the city to where I was.

They didn’t look like human beings. Their hair was standing straight up. Burned, blackness, swelling, bleeding. Parts of the bodies were missing. The skin and flesh were hanging from the bones. Some were carrying their own eyeballs, you know, they’re hanging from the eye socket.

They collapsed onto the ground, their stomach burst open with their intestines sticking out. The soldier said, “Well you girls, join that procession, escape to the nearby field.”

That’s what we did by carefully stepping over the dead bodies, injured bodies. It was a strange situation. Nobody was running and screaming for help. They just didn’t have that kind of strength left.

They were simply whispering, “Water please, water please.” Everybody was asking for water.

We girls were relatively lightly injured. So, by the time we got to the hillside, we went to a nearby stream and washed off the blood and dirt, and we took off our blouses and soaked them in the stream and dashed back to hold them over the mouths of the dying people.

You see, the place we escaped to was the military training ground, a huge place, about the size of two football fields. The place was packed with the dead and dying people.

I wanted to help, but everyone wanted water, but there were no cups and no buckets to carry the water. That’s why we resorted to that rather primitive way of so-called rescue operation. That was all we could do.

I looked around to see if there were any doctors around us, but I saw none of them in that huge place. That meant, tens of thousands of people in that place without medication, no medical attention, ointment.

Nothing was provided for them. Just a few drops of water from a wet cloth. That was the level of support, rescue operation you could offer.

We kept ourselves busy all day doing that. Of course, doctors and nurses were killed too. Just a small percentage of the medical professionals survived, but they were serving people somewhere else, not where I was.

So, we were three girls, together with hundreds of other people who escaped to the place. We just sat on the hillside and all night, we watched the Empire City burn, to see the moon from the massive scale of death and suffering we had witnessed.

I was mad, strongly, appropriately, emotionally. Something happened to my psyche. When we close off our psychic memory, in an ultimate situation like that, the cessation of the emotions takes place automatically. I’m glad of that because if we responded emotionally to every graphic sight I witnessed, I couldn’t have survived.

The day ended. Other people can tell about being near the rivers, full of floating dead bodies, and so on. But I didn’t see that then.

But I’ll tell you about the few people in my family, my friends, how they lost their lives. That will show you just how the bomb affected human beings.

I mentioned about 30 girls who were with me, but the rest of the students were at the city center. The city was trying to establish the facilities to be prepared for the air raid.

So, the seventh-grade and eighth-grade students from all the high schools were recruited, went to the center of the city. We were providing the minor labor.

A victim of the Hiroshima atomic bomb is treated at a makeshift hospital in September 1945. Immediately after the bombing, Setsuko Thurlow sought to provide aid and comfort to wounded survivors. (Photo: Wayne Miller/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)Now, they were in the center right below the detonation of the bomb. So they are the ones who simply vaporized, melted, and carbonized. My sister-in-law was there with a student. She was one of the teachers supervising the students. We tried to locate her corpse, but we have never done so. On paper, she’s still missing, together with thousands of other students.

I understand there were several thousand students, 8,000 or so. They simply disappeared from the face of earth. The temperature of the blast, I understand, was about 4,000 degrees Celsius.

Another story I can tell is about my sister and her four-year-old child, who came back to the city the night before to visit us. Early in the morning, they were walking over the bridge to the medical clinic, and both of them were burned beyond recognition.

By the time I saw them the next day, their bodies were swollen two or three times larger than normal, and they too kept begging for water. When they died, the soldiers dug a hole and threw in the bodies, poured gasoline, and threw a lighted match.

With a bamboo stick, they kept turning the bodies. There I was, a 13-year-old girl, and I was standing emotionlessly just watching it.

That memory troubled me for many years. What kind of human being am I? My dear sister being treated like animal or an insect or whatever.

There was no human dignity associated with that kind of cremation. The fact that I didn’t really shed tears troubled me for many years. I felt guilt.

I could forgive myself after learning how our psyche automatically functions in situations like that. But, you know, it’s the image of this four-year-old child that is burned to my retina. It’s always there.

That image just guided me, and it’s the driving force for my activism. Because that child came to represent all the innocent children of the world without understanding what was happening to them. They agonized.

So that child is a special being, a special memory. If he were alive, he would be 75. It’s a sobering thought, but regardless of passage of time, he’s still a four-year-old child guiding me.

It was interesting, [President Barack] Obama made a lot of references about innocent children, how we need to protect each one of them, and I was weeping. I couldn’t help it.

Now, let me tell you another example of how the atomic bomb affected the human beings. We rejoiced to hear my favorite uncle and aunt survived. They were okay. They didn’t have any visible sign of injury.

Then several days later, we started hearing a different story. They got sick, very sick. So after my sister and my nephew died, my parents went over to my uncle’s place, started looking after them.

Their body started showing purple spots all over the body, and according to my mother, who cared for them until their death, their internal organs seemed to be rotting, dissolving, coming out as a thick black liquid until death.

Now, radiation works in many mysterious and random ways. Some people are killed immediately, some weeks later or months later, a year later. The horrible thing is, 71 years later, people are still dying from the effects of the radiation.

The hibakusha, the survivors, struggled to explain in the aftermath. It’s surviving in the unprecedented catastrophic aura and the unprecedented social, political chaos due to Japan’s defeat and the occupational forces’ strict control over us.

I finished university in Japan, and upon my graduation, I was offered a scholarship, so I came to your country. I came to Virginia, very close to this city.

That was 1954. The United States tested the biggest hydrogen bomb at the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific that time, creating the kind of situation similar to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki experience.

All of Japan was up in arms with fury. It was not only Hiroshima, not only Nagasaki, now the Bikini Atoll. Well, the United States continued with the testing and actually using them.

That’s when all of Japan became fully aware of the nature of nuclear weapons development. Anyway, at that time, I left Japan, arrived in Virginia, and I was interviewed by the press.

I gave my honest opinion. I was fresh out of college and naive and believed in honesty. I told them what I thought: The United States nuclear policy was bad. It has to stop. Look at all the killings and damage to the environment in the Pacific. That has to stop, and all these kinds of thing I said.

The next day, I started receiving hate letters. “How dare you? Do you realize where you are? Who is giving the scholarship? Go home. Go back to Japan.” Just a few days after my arrival, I encountered this kind of situation, and I was horrified. It was quite a traumatic experience.

What am I going to do? I can’t go back, I just arrived. I can’t put a zipper over my mouth and pretend I never knew anything about Hiroshima bombing.

Would I be able to survive in North America? Well, I spent a week without going to the classroom. I just had to be alone and do my soul-searching.

It was a painful and lonely time in a new country. I hardly knew anybody, and I had to deal with this issue. I’m happy to say that I came out of that traumatic experience with more determination and a stronger conviction.

If I don’t speak out, who will? I actually experienced it. I saw it. It’s my moral responsibility. So, I have my experience to warn the world. We’ve seen this is just the beginning of the nuclear arms race. I just have to warn the world.


Adapted from remarks delivered to the Arms Control Association on June 6, 2016, shortly after U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima. At the age of 13, Setsuko Thurlow survived the atomic bombing in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. She has since worked to tell the story of the survivors, the hibakusha. She was the Arms Control Association’s 2015 Arms Control Person of the Year, a leading champion within the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for the negotiation of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and for that was a co-recipient of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Peace.

Seventy-one years afterward, a survivor recalls helping the wounded on August 6, 1945.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings and the Nuclear Danger Today


July/August 2020
By Daryl G. Kimball

The U.S. atomic bomb attack on the people of Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, and the second attack on the city of Nagasaki at 11:02 a.m. on August 9 killed and wounded hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting men, women, and children in a horrible blast of fire and radiation, followed by deadly fallout. In years that followed, those who survived—the hibakusha—suffered from the trauma of the experience and from the long-term effects of their exposure to radiation from the weapons.

Historians now largely agree that the United States need not have dropped bombs to avoid an invasion of Japan and bring an end to World War II. President Harry Truman and his advisers were aware of the alternatives, but Truman chose to authorize the use of the atomic bombs in part to further the U.S. government’s postwar geostrategic aims.1

The bombings helped to launch the dangerous, decades-long U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race; and they ignited a debate about the dangers of nuclear weapons, their role in foreign and military policy, their regulation and control, and the morality and legality of their possession and use that continues to this day.

Although nuclear weapons have not been used in a military attack since 1945, they have left a trail of devastation, including cancer from atmospheric nuclear test fallout, toxic waste and environmental contamination, and workers and residents exposed to radiation and hazardous chemicals from nuclear weapons production plants, uranium mines, and research labs.2 All too often, indigenous and disempowered communities have found themselves downwind and downstream.

Beginning with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when U.S. authorities sought to censor information about nuclear weapons, the nuclear weapons establishments have tried to hide and stifle debate about the health and environmental effects of nuclear war and nuclear weapons development, testing, and production.

In 1956, however, the Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings came together and pledged to work to “save humanity from its crisis through the lessons learned from our experiences” and issued their first formal appeal to the world that “there should never be another [h]ibakusha.”

The voices, testimony, and outreach of the hibakusha have been central to the decades-long struggle to put in place meaningful, verifiable, legally binding restraints on nuclear weapons; to realize a global treaty prohibiting their possession and use; and to advance the steps necessary to achieve the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Through the decades, persistent citizen pressure and hard-nosed disarmament and nonproliferation diplomacy have produced agreements and treaties that have successfully curbed the spread of nuclear weapons, slowed the arms race, and reduced the danger of nuclear war. These initiatives slashed the staggering size of the Cold War-era U.S. and Russian arsenals, prohibited nuclear test explosions, and strengthened the taboo against nuclear weapons possession and use.

Yet, far too many of these weapons still exist. Combined, the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals total some 12,170 nuclear weapons, more than 90 percent of the global total, which is estimated to be 13,400.3 In addition to the United States and Russia, there are now seven more nuclear-armed nations, with smaller but still very deadly arsenals: the United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

In addition, many of the dangerous policies developed over the years to justify the possession and potential use of nuclear weapons persist. For instance, the United States, Russia, France, and the UK maintain significant numbers of their nuclear weapons on prompt-launch status, ready to retaliate in response to a nuclear attack. The United States and Russia also cling to the option to use nuclear weapons first and against significant non-nuclear threats.

Making matters worse, the dialogue on disarmament has stalled. Tensions between many of the world’s nuclear-armed states are rising, and the risk of nuclear use is growing. The Trump administration has severely undermined U.S. credibility and capability to provide effective global leadership on nonproliferation and disarmament.

The world’s nine nuclear actors are squandering tens of billions of dollars each year to maintain and upgrade nuclear arsenals, monies that could be redirected to address real human needs. The United States and Russia have discarded or disrespected key agreements that have kept their nuclear competition in check, and other agreements are in jeopardy. Other nuclear-armed states, for the most part, still remain outside the nuclear risk reduction and disarmament enterprise. We are once again on the verge of a new, global nuclear arms race.

Our nuclear anxieties persist, and humanity’s efforts to contain and eliminate the nuclear weapons danger continue.

The historic 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which has won the support of the vast majority of the world’s non-nuclear states, is a step forward, but the current environment necessitates even bolder action from civil society and governments everywhere. We must reduce nuclear risks, and we must freeze, reverse, and ultimately eliminate nuclear weapons.

The survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings bear witness to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. As the authors of a new 2020 appeal from a consortium of hibakusha leaders and organizations write, “The average age of the [h]ibakusha now exceeds 80. It is our strong desire to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world in our lifetime, so that succeeding generations of people will not see hell on earth ever again.”

Arms Control Today presents the following annotated photo essay to honor their call to action.

ENDNOTES

1. J. Samuel Walker, “The Decision to Use the Bomb: A Historiographical Update,” in Hiroshima in History and Memory, ed. Michael J. Hogan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

2. Arjun Makhijani, “A Readiness to Harm: The Health Effects of Nuclear Weapons Complexes,” Arms Control Today, July/August 2005. See Arjun Makhijani, Howard Hu, and Katherine Yih, eds., Nuclear Wastelands: A Global Guide to Nuclear Weapons Production and Its Health and Environmental Effects (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000).

3. Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda, “Status of World Nuclear Forces,” Federation of American Scientists, April 2020, https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/.

 

The cloud generated by “Little Boy,” the uranium-based atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima, rises above the city with a wartime population of approximately 320,000 on the morning of August 6, 1945. The blast packed a destructive force equivalent to about 15 kilotons of TNT. In minutes, approximately half of the city vanished. (Photo: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)

 

 

 

Three days later, the city of Nagasaki burns following the decision by U.S. leaders to drop “Fat Man,” a plutonium-based bomb with an explosive yield estimated at 21 kilotons, on the city of approximately 260,000 at the time of the attack. (Photo: UN/Nagasaki International Cultural Hall)

 

 

The Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall stands alone in the rubble. The explosion produced a supersonic shock wave followed by extreme winds that remained above hurricane force more than three kilometers from the hypocenter. A secondary and equally devastating reverse wind ensued, flattening and severely damaging homes and buildings several kilometers further away. Only remnants of a few reinforced structures remained.  (Photo: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)

 

 

A burned body in the ruins 500 meters from the hypocenter; and the pattern of a woman’s kimono burned into her skin. The intense heat rays of the Hiroshima bomb reached several million degrees Celsius at the hypocenter and incinerated everything within approximately two kilometers. The heat scorched flesh and ignited trees and other flammable materials as far as 3.5 kilometers from ground zero. Flash burns from the primary heatwave caused most of the deaths at Hiroshima. By the end of 1945, an estimated 140,000 were killed by the blast, heat, and radiation effects of the nuclear attack. (Photo: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)

 

 

 

 

The city of Hiroshima on fire on August 6, as seen from four kilometers away. A firestorm ravaged the city of Hiroshima for hours after the explosion, peaking around midday. Firestorms leveled neighborhoods where the blast had inflicted only partial damage and killed victims trapped under fallen debris. Within 20 minutes, the explosion also produced black rain laden with radioactive soot and dust that contaminated areas as far away as 29 kilometers from ground zero. (Photo: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)

 

 

 

The ruins of Nagasaki on August 10, 1945, at about 700 meters from the hypocenter. The nuclear attack on Nagasaki killed an estimated 74,000 by the end of 1945 and injured approximately another 75,000. The attack occurred two days earlier than planned, 10 hours after the Soviets entered the war against Japan, and as Japanese leaders were contemplating surrender.  (Photo: UN/Yosuke Yamahata)

 

 

 

The remains of a religious temple in Nagasaki on September 24, 1945, six weeks after the bombing. Many of those who survived the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks would die in radiation-induced illnesses years later. The number of survivors contracting leukemia increased noticeably five to six years after the bombing. Ten years after the bombing, the survivors began contracting thyroid, breast, lung, and other cancers at higher than normal rates. These hibakusha and their descendants helped form the nucleus of the Japanese and global nuclear disarmament movement. (Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

Seventy-five years on, the effects of the bombings haunt the survivors and inform the global debate about nuclear weapons and the ongoing pursuit of nuclear disarmament.

Japan Suspends Aegis Ashore Deployment


July/August 2020

Japan will not deploy two U.S.-made Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense systems designed to protect Japan against North Korean ballistic missiles, officials announced in June, citing growing financial costs, unresolved technical issues, and local opposition.

“Due to considerations of cost and timing, we have stopped the process of introducing the Aegis Ashore system,” said Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono on June 15. The cost was too high, he said, to develop enough confidence that the system’s rocket booster would not fall on Japanese residents and buildings after detaching from the interceptor. Attempts to revise the missile’s software to ensure this outcome had failed, and costly hardware modifications will be necessary, Kono said. Japanese officials had proposed to site the two systems at the north and south ends of the nation’s main island, a decision met with protests from local communities and officials.

Purchasing, operating, and maintaining the two Aegis Ashore systems for 30 years had been estimated to cost about $4.2 billion, and Japan has already invested about $1.8 billion in the project, according to Japanese news sources.

With the cancellation, Japan’s missile defense capabilities will now rely solely on naval vessels armed with Aegis weapons. Japan plans to deploy eight such destroyers, the last of which began sea trials in June and is scheduled to be commissioned in 2021, Defense News reported.—MACKENZIE KNIGHT

Japan Suspends Aegis Ashore Deployment

Wassenaar Nations Set New Export Controls


April 2020

Transfers of military-grade software and chip manufacturing technology will face increased scrutiny following an amendment to the Wassenaar Arrangement, an international export control regime.

Established in 1996 and now numbering 42 nations that apply the voluntary trade restrictions, the Wassenaar Arrangement restricts the export of certain conventional weapons, dual-use goods and other technology. Its members include France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. Notable nations not participating include China, Iran, Israel, and North Korea.

At their 25th annual plenary meeting in December in Vienna, members agreed unanimously to adopt new export controls in such areas as cyberwarfare software, communications monitoring, digital investigative tools and forensic systems, suborbital aerospace vehicles, technology for the production of substrates for high-end integrated circuits, hybrid machine tools, and lithography equipment and technology.

In addition, the nations clarified existing export control measures regarding ballistic protection, optical sensors, ball bearings, and inorganic fibrous and filamentary materials. They also relaxed some controls, including those with respect to certain laminates and commercial components with embedded cryptography.

The enhanced export restrictions might affect sales by forensic cybersecurity and chip manufacturing companies, according to articles from Kyodo News and Haaretz.—PERI MEYERS

Wassenaar Nations Set New Export Controls

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