Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations
My name is Teruko Yokoyama from Japan, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. I represent the Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, which is called Nihon Hidankyo for short.
Thank you very much for inviting me to this World Court of Women against War, for Peace, and for giving me an opportunity to testify against nuclear weapons in this nuclear-free country South Africa. I have learned that South Africa once developed and produced nuclear weapons, but decided to dismantle and abandon them. Now, South Africa works for the abolition of nuclear weapons at an international level as a member of the New Agenda Group, which is made up of 7 non-nuclear states. The abolition of nuclear weapons is possible if there is a political will to do so, and your country has proven it eloquently.
It took us the Hibakusha, A-bomb victims, 11 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to raise ourselves from despair. Supported by the growing voices in Japan and all over the world against atomic and hydrogen bombs, we were able to form our organization Nihon Hidankyo in 1956.
Until then, most of the Hibakusha had lived quiet and solitary lives, marginalized in the society. Many of us had to struggle to survive and get medical treatment for our burns and injuries and to get over the effects of radiation inflicted by the A-bombs. We suffered from discrimination in times of marriage, in having children or getting jobs. Because of the weak health of the Hibakusha who barely survived, people did not want to employ them, or did not want to marry and have children with them for fear of genetic effects. During this period, writing about or even talking about the damage caused by the A-bombs was prohibited by the "press code" imposed by the United States, which then occupied Japan.
But ever since the founding of our organization, we the Hibakusha have spoken more openly about the damage and suffering caused by the A-bombs. We have appealed to the world to abolish nuclear weapons, so that no one else in the world should go through the hell-like suffering that we had experienced.
On August 6 and 9, 1945, only two atomic bombs turned Hiroshima and Nagasaki into the cities of deaths in an instant with their intense heat rays and blasts.
The two cities were full of heaps of red-burned bodies of people with their eyeballs or inner organs protruding; streetcars burned black packed with passengers. Many people were burned to death, trapped under fallen houses. Lines of ghost-like people took refuge out of the cities, with their hair frizzled, and the skin of their hands peeled and dangling at the tip of their fingers. These horrible and tragic sights witnessed by the eyes of Hibakusha were just hell on earth.
Within a few days, those who had once barely escaped from immediate death, or those who entered these cities to look for their families or to engage in relief work, fell one after another with the effects of radiation, losing their hair, vomiting blood.
My Father was working in a middle school and was in a classroom located at 1.2 kilometers from the blast center. With the enormous blast, he was blown over the schoolyard down to the bottom of a hill. He lay unconscious and was left there for three days before someone rescued him.
My mother and baby sister were in the yard of our house, at 4 km from the center of the blast. Inside the house, a chest of drawers fell, and the fragments of the windowpane stuck all over the straw mattresses on the floor. Father did not come back even when evening came, and all my mother could see in the direction of the city where my father was supposed to be, was a bright sea of fire raging up in the sky.
My father was brought back home with serious injuries. His face was bloated like a balloon from burns, his eyelids swollen and closing his eyesight, and his lips sore and exposed. He did not look like a human being. Fortunately he survived, but lost the sight in his right eye. Since then, he always suffered from chronic sluggishness and repeated hospitalization with liver and thyroid. He died from lung cancer in 1975 at the age of 72.
My little sister, who was 1 year and 4 months old at the time of the bombing started to have a problem in her throat about one month later. She wheezed and gasped for air. She went through surgery, but was left with a hoarse voice, just like an old woman. She spent the rest of her life mostly in the hospital with various diseases. She could not finish her school education. The only pleasure she found in her hospital life was reading and handicrafts. Her condition got serious when she was 40, and she became bed-ridden. She lost her eyesight in both eyes, and died in the darkness at age 44. Whenever I remember my sister, I wonder, "For what was she born?" and feel intolerable sorrow and anger. If only the A-bomb was not used, her life could have been completely different.
My mother died in 1972 from stomach cancer when she was 64, after long years of nursing my father and sister.
I was 4 years old in 1945 and had been evacuated outside the city. On the 9th day after the bombing, I was taken by my grandmother back to Nagasaki, which was still full of radiation from the A-bomb. I cannot forget my shock on entering my hometown completely ruined and turned into a city of death and horror. I myself have been suffering from intense anemia ever since.
The atomic bomb inflicted the worst damage on the weakest. By the end of 1945, 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki died. 65% of those killed were elderly, children and women -- all civilians.
I want to present to you the experiences of some of my Hibakusha friends.
Ms. Sakue Shimohira was 10 years old and was inside the air-raid shelter with her little sister, 800 meters from ground zero. They found their mother and big sister burned to death at home. Their big brother, who was a medical student, came to look for them from outside the city, but a few days later, even without direct burns or injuries, he died, murmuring, "I don't want to die, I don't want to die..." It was acute radiation sickness that killed him. Sakue and her sister struggled to survive, suffering the aftereffects from the A-bomb, without clothes to wear, food to eat or a house to live in. They often regretted not having died at the same time as their mother. Sakue's sister suffered a long time from the surgery on her wound, which would not close and heal, and finally, she threw herself before a moving train and died. Sakue was the only one of her family who had survived but she found the strength to live on, and has told her story to many young people who come to Nagasaki, and has also traveled to many parts of the world to share her experiences.
Mr. Nobuyuki Mitsuishi was not yet born on the day of the bombing, but was in his mother's womb. She was three-month pregnant then, and at 1.8 km from the blast center when the bomb was dropped. Mr. Mitsuishi was born with microcephaly due to the effect of the bomb. His head was small, and his physical development was delayed, and he also had mental retardation. He was neglected by his mother and brothers, and had to live his adult life alone, with multiple health problems. He always wanted to live as ordinary people do in a warm home, but ended his life at age 47. Many children who were still fetuses in their mothers' wombs were miscarried or stillborn, or died young.
Mr. Senji Yamaguchi was a high school student and about to become 15. With his shirts off, he was working outside of a weapons factory where he had been mobilized to work, 1.2 km from the ground zero. Instantly, the whole of his upper body was burned by the heat rays of the A-bomb. The burns on his body were infested with maggots and caused him great pain. It was a miracle he survived, but the burns from the A-bomb left him with keloid scars, and his mouth was stretched and deformed. His right ear was shrunk due to the melted cartilage, and his face was burned and made ugly. Until today, he has faced repeated hospitalization with surgery on the keloids, skin cancer, liver disease and leucopenia. But despite all his difficulties, he has dedicated his life to the elimination of nuclear weapons, and has appealed to the people of the entire world to create a nuclear-free world. He now serves as the Co-Chairperson of our organization, Nihon Hidankyo.
Atomic bombs do not allow humans to live or die as humans. Nuclear weapons are the weapons of insanity, aimed only at extermination, and we cannot allow these weapons of absolute evil to continue to exist.
In 1996, the International Court of Justice in the Hague rendered an advisory opinion, which stated that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons were illegal under international law. And at the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty held in May 2000, the final year of the 20th century, the five declared nuclear weapons states agreed on the Final Documents, which calls for an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish complete elimination of their nuclear weapons. This gave us a light of hope after our long struggle. Now we must press them to fulfil their promise.
Japan's war of aggression inflicted enormous suffering, deaths and damage on the people of Asia. The worst form of crimes against women was the "military comfort women" system. Our task in Japan is to make our own government acknowledge clearly the responsibility of its war of aggression, reject all wars, and become a nuclear-free country. Abolition of nuclear weapons is the only way to ensure that there should be no more Hibakusha like us.
Peace cannot be achieved or protected by armaments, but must be created by cooperative efforts of the people all over the world. Peace is the most precious legacy we can hand over to our future generations.
Friends, let us rally the conscience and wisdom of the entire human race, and work together to give our children in this new century a peaceful world set free of nuclear weapons and war.
Allow me to give to the jury some material and documents to support
my testimony, and the thousand paper cranes, a symbol of peace in Japan,
which were folded by the Hibakusha.