WHY HIROSHIMA EVENTS MATTER
By Lawrence S. Wittner
History News Network
August 6, 2007
--Dr. Wittner is Professor of History at the State University of New York/Albany. His latest book, co-edited with Glen H. Stassen, is Peace Action: Past, Present, and Future (Paradigm Publishers).
The 62nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima occurs today, August 6, 2007, bringing with it thousands of commemoration ceremonies in cities and towns around the world. Such events have become part and parcel of the nuclear era, and include the lighting and floating of lanterns in memory of the dead, silent vigils, religious observances, the chalking of human "shadows" on the ground, readings of John Hersey's Hiroshima, and leafletting.
As touching as these ceremonies and activities sometimes are, have they served any practical purpose? A brief survey indicates that they have.
Fittingly, these ventures began in Hiroshima. On August 6, 1946, the local branch of the Japanese Association of Religious Organizations sponsored a Memorial Day, presided over by Buddhist, Shinto, and Christian clergy. The following August, a broader coalition of Hiroshima-based organizations sponsored a citywide peace festival. At the 1947 event, which drew 10,000 people to a public park, a message was read by the U.S. occupation commander, General Douglas MacArthur, who emphasized that the development of the atomic bomb had dramatically changed the nature of war and threatened the destruction of the human race. Speaking at the same ceremonies, Hiroshima's new mayor, Shinzo Hamai, organized prayers against the future employment of nuclear weapons and issued a Peace Declaration, calling on the world to rid itself of war.
As demonstrations memorializing the atomic bombings became regular events in Hiroshima, they began to spread to other countries. In 1948, the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, a Methodist minister portrayed in Hersey's Hiroshima, initiated a campaign to have nations around the world draw upon August 6 as World Peace Day. That year, citizens in twenty countries responded to his call, holding prayer meetings and other public gatherings on Hiroshima Day.
Tanimoto had a particular impact in the United States, where -- sponsored by the Board of Missions of the Methodist Church -- he toured during a substantial part of 1948 and 1949, garnering support from pacifist and religious groups for a Hiroshima peace center. Thanks to the efforts of Norman Cousins, Pearl Buck, Hersey, and other prominent Americans, the center was established in New York City in March 1949. In 1950, it opened in Hiroshima, where it arranged for the "moral adoption" of atomic bomb orphans by Americans and undertook welfare services for other victims of the atomic attack.
Cousins visited Japan in 1949 for the August 6 memorial ceremony, and returned to the United States with a Hiroshima Peace Petition, signed by 110,000 residents of that city. Although President Harry Truman refused to accept the petition, Tanimoto eventually presented it to Carlos Romulo, President of the U.N. General Assembly.
From the start, then, there were two themes highlighted by the Hiroshima Day ceremonies. The first was that nuclear war was such an abomination that it should never be waged again. The second was that the development of nuclear weapons brought war itself into question; or, as some have phrased it, in the nuclear age there is no alternative to peace.
Over the ensuing decades, peace groups have hammered away at these two themes -- and with some success. Rather remarkably, they have created mass movements that have played a key role in curbing the nuclear arms race and in preventing the waging of nuclear war. This development is unique in human history, for when have governments -- which have waged war for as long as there have been competing territories -- pulled back from its most devastating forms and abandoned its most destructive implements?
Of course, peace groups have been less successful in bringing an end to war itself. And yet, there are signs here, too, that some progress has been made. A United Nations, a European Union, and other viable international organizations have become vital fixtures of the modern world. Not only has the planet not erupted into a third world war since 1945, but -- as numerous scholarly studies have shown -- in the last two decades the level of international violence has declined significantly. This is why the Bush administration, with its stubborn penchant for military victory, seems so out of touch with the rest of the world, and even with the American public.
Of course, for anyone concerned with building a sane and secure world, these developments, while heartening, are not sufficient.
Why have the Hiroshima-based arguments for ridding the world of nuclear war and war itself not had a greater impact? One reason is that, over the course of thousands of years, governments have had the prerogative for waging war and, in this connection, employing whatever weapons they want. The "great powers," especially, do not look forward to surrendering this prerogative. In addition, the public is occasionally lured into support for particular wars thanks to deception, nationalism, and what appear to be (and sometimes are) genuine threats to their security. Moreover, for understandable reasons, many members of the public would prefer not to think too much about nuclear war (i.e. universal doom).
In this context, Hiroshima Day events really do matter. They help break into the consciousness of rulers and ruled alike, telling them that nuclear war is really not acceptable. Such events also remind them that, in the modern world, war itself is an anachronism -- a deadly habit that must be overcome.
14 ANTI-NUKE PROTESTERS ARRESTED AT BANGOR
Kitsap Sun August 6, 2007
BANGOR -- Fourteen activists protesting nuclear weapons were arrested Monday for blocking traffic and for entering Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
About 60 people came to the base early Monday morning to demonstrate, a statement from the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action said.
The Poulsbo-based group regularly protests the presence of nuclear weapons at Bangor. In January, three protesters were found guilty of disorderly conduct for demonstrations on May 15 and Aug. 6 of last year.
Monday was the 62nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 6, 2007
CONTACT: Ground Zero Center For Non-Violent Action
Anne Hall or David Hall (206) 545-3562
Brian Watson (306) 479-6399
Glen Milner (206) 365-7865
14 PEACE ACTIVISTS ARRESTED MARKING 62nd ANNIVERSARY OF THE HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI ATOMIC BOMBING AT THE TRIDENT SUBMARINE BASE AT BANGOR, WA
BANGOR, WA -- Sixty people were present in an early dawn demonstration against nuclear weapons at the Trident submarine base at Bangor. Both personnel entrances were briefly blocked at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor while Navy personnel and support personnel were arriving for work at the base on Monday morning.
Around 6 a.m., five peace activists blocked the Trigger entrance to the submarine base, at NW Trigger Avenue, and were arrested by Kitsap County Sheriffs. Shortly after, four activists separately walked onto federal property at the Trigger entrance and were arrested by base security.
Meanwhile, two peace activists separately entered federal property at the main gate to the Trident submarine base, on Highway 308, and were arrested by base security. Three activists then separately walked onto the highway to block traffic and were arrested by Kitsap County Sheriffs.
This marked the first demonstration in recent years when both personnel entrances were blocked at similar times at the Trident submarine base.
Peace activists at the main gate to the base held a large banner proclaiming Hiroshima and Nagasaki Never Again. Other activists carried posters showing the destruction caused by atomic bombs upon the Japanese cities.
Those arrested by federal officers: Denny Moore and Donna Moore of Bainbridge Island; Jody Tiller of Olympia; Marya Barr and Karol Schulkin of Ventura, California; and Woody Pidcock of Seattle.
Those arrested by Kitsap County Sheriffs: Lynne Greenwald of Bremerton; Joy Goldstein of Vashon; Brenda McMillan of Port Townsend; Ellen Kohjima of Tacoma; Mack Johnson of Silverdale; and Rev. Anne Hall, Dr. David Hall and Rose Betz-Zall of Seattle.
Demonstrators arrested on federal property were booked at the Trident submarine base and released. It is unclear whether charges will be filed at this time.
Demonstrators arrested by Kitsap County Sheriffs were booked at the Port Orchard jail and released. Demonstrators may be charged with disorderly conduct.
Since May 2006, peace activists have been arrested, without a warning, by Kitsap County Sheriff’s officers as soon as they crossed the fog line along the entrance to the base, making it more difficult for demonstrators to communicate their message to the general public.
Please see attached Fact Sheet
14 PEACE ACTIVISTS ARRESTED MARKING 62nd ANNIVERSARY OF THE HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI ATOMIC BOMBING AT THE TRIDENT SUBMARINE BASE AT BANGOR, WA
This August, the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action is celebrating 30 years of resistance to the Trident submarine system and all nuclear weapons. Ground Zero members, Jim Douglass, Shelley Douglass, Marya Barr, Karol Schulkin, and Kim Wahl, who were influential during formative years of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, were present at the August events.
This year, demonstrators were also joined with members of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist temple on Bainbridge Island, who with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action members and others, completed a walk for peace, starting at Eugene, Oregon, on July 15 and ending at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on August 4, 2007.
The Bangor Trident Submarine Base, just 20 miles from Seattle, has become home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal. In November 2006, the Natural Resource Defense Council declared the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal.
The base at Bangor is also the last active nuclear weapons depot on the West Coast and has been recently rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system. Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb.)
The Trident submarines at Bangor are likely to be used first in any nuclear attack: either as an isolated “tactical” assault on a specific site, bunker, or weapons location; or in a larger “strategic” nuclear attack. The Bangor-based submarines can launch their weapons in secrecy and operate near Middle East and Asian targets.
The Trident submarine base at Bangor currently has eight D-5 missile submarines.
In addition, four older Trident submarines are being refitted to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles. Two will be at Bangor. These SSGN submarines can fire all of the cruise missiles on one submarine, 154 cruise missiles, in six minutes.
In July, 2005 Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy announced a $9.2 million contract to develop a new submarine-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile (SLIRBM). The SLIRBM will be capable of delivering a 1,000 lb. payload 1,200 miles within 15 minutes of launch. A Tomahawk missile takes about 4 hours to cover the same distance.
Either type of Trident submarine at Bangor, whether to launch D-5 nuclear missiles, cruise missiles, or the planned intermediate range ballistic missile, has unbelievable destructive force.
JAPAN MOURNS NAGASAKI VICTIMS AMID NUCLEAR “CRISIS”
By Eline Lies
August 8, 2007
TOKYO -- Japan marked the 62nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki with prayers and ceremony on Thursday as the city's mayor warned that the world faced a crisis of nuclear proliferation.
Thousands of children, elderly survivors and dignitaries in Nagasaki's Peace Park bowed their heads in a minute of silence at 11:02 a.m. (0202 GMT), the time the bomb was dropped, in memory of the more than 140,000 who ultimately died.
Nagasaki mayor Tomihisa Taue vowed to carry on the fight to eliminate nuclear arms long spearheaded by his predecessor, Itcho Ito, who was gunned down by a gangster in April.
"Instead of progress in nuclear disarmament, we are facing a crisis in terms of the breakdown of the very structure of nuclear non-proliferation," Taue told the crowd.
Noting that long-term nuclear powers have been joined by others such as India, Pakistan and North Korea, which last October conducted a nuclear test, and that Iran is suspected of nuclear development, Taue said the danger was greater than ever.
"With the appearance of new nuclear weapons states comes increased danger of actual use, as well as the leakage of nuclear-related technology," he said.
Nagasaki was bombed by the United States on August 9, 1945, three days after the western city of Hiroshima. On August 15, Japan surrendered.
About 27,000 of the city's estimated 200,000 population died instantly, and about 70,000 had died by the end of 1945. The toll is updated every year as more victims die of radiation illness, and 3,069 names were added to the list of the dead this year, bringing the official death toll to 143,124.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the first premier born after World War Two, laid a wreath at the ceremony and repeated that he would abide by Japan's decades-old non-nuclear policy.
Controversy erupted last year when a senior ruling party lawmaker said Japan should discuss acquiring nuclear weapons after North Korea's test.
Taue alluded to this, saying that Japan's three non-nuclear principles -- banning the possession, production and import of nuclear arms -- should be acted into law.
"The use of nuclear weapons can never be permitted or considered acceptable, for any reason whatsoever," he said.
This year's anniversary followed outrage by local residents over remarks by Japan's former defense minister, Fumio Kyuma, that had appeared to condone the bombings. Kyuma, who hails from a Nagasaki district, had said the bombings "couldn't be helped" because they brought World War Two to an end. He resigned over the remarks. Abe apologized for Kyuma's remarks, telling reporters: "We will make every effort for denuclearization, so that there will never again be another atomic bombing."