Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – Despite the annihilation of two major Japanese cities in 1945, atomic bombs have not been relegated to the pages of history books, but continue to be developed today – with increasingly more power to destroy than they had when unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki back in 1945.
Those first nuclear weapons deployed by the United States, indiscriminately killed tens of thousands of non-combatants but also left indelible scars for the immediate survivors, that they, their children and grandchildren still carry today.
“The Red Cross hospital was full of dead bodies. The death of a human is a solemn and sad thing, but I didn’t have the time to think about it because I had to collect their bones and dispose of their bodies”, a then 25-year-old woman said in a recorded testimony, 1.5 km from Hiroshima’s ground zero.
“This was truly a living hell, I thought, and the cruel sights still stay in my mind”.
To highlight the tireless work of the survivors, known in Japanese as the hibakusha, the UN’s Office for Disarmament Affairs, created an exhibition at UN Headquarters in New York which has just come to a close, entitled: Three Quarters of a Century After Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Hibakusha—Brave Survivors Working for a Nuclear-Free World.
It vividly brings to life the devastation and havoc wreaked by those first atomic bombs (A-bombs), and their successor weapons, the more powerful hydrogen bombs (H-bombs) which began testing in the 1950s.
In the aftermath of the bombings in Japan, the hibakusha, conducted intense investigations with the aim of preventing history from repeating itself.
The Japanese art director who designed the exhibition at UN Headquarters, Erico Platt, acknowledged in an interview with UN News, that inevitably, the COVID pandemic had reduced the number of people able to see the exhibition in person, as well as prevented elderly hibakusha from participating.
In the past, “at least 10 to 30 [hibakusha] came to do live testimonials at the site as well as outside of the United Nation, like churches, schools”, she said. “But this time because of the pandemic no one could come”.