- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2005

HIROSHIMA, Japan — When the city commemorates the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing tomorrow, it will give anti-nuclear activists a chance to make their voice heard. However, Haruko Moritaki said, they are facing an increasingly tough fight.

“When you see the world situation today, the development of nuclear arms has been boosted,” said Mrs. Moritaki, co-director of the Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition. “There is a higher probability of using them, especially since the 9/11 [terrorist attacks]. But it must not be that way.”

The Enola Gay dropped “Little Boy” over Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945. The atomic bomb took tens of thousands of lives instantly and turned the city into an inferno. By the end of the year, about 140,000 people had died because of the bombing.

In May, at the review conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said, “In five years, the world has changed. Our fears of a deadly nuclear detonation — whatever the cause — have been reawakened.”

Mrs. Moritaki and other citizens, including survivors of the atomic bombing, flew to New York, expecting some progress from the conference. However, “nothing came out” of it, she said.

The NPT meeting was held at “the worst time, when people are more concerned about North Korea and Iran,” said Sunao Tsuboi, an 80-year-old bomb survivor and head of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, referring to the two countries’ nuclear programs that are raising concerns in the international community.

Moreover, there has been growing concern since the September 11 attacks that terrorists groups might come by radioactive materials to produce bombs.

Dramatically changing international situations in the past decade have had a huge effect on Mrs. Moritaki, whose father served as chairman of the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs.

In 1996, she quit her job as a public-school teacher, even as she suffered breast cancer and wanted to tend to her aged mother. But she still volunteered to talk to visiting students about Hiroshima’s experience.

But when a local newspaper, the Chugoku Shimbun, reported in 1997 that India and Pakistan might conduct nuclear testing soon, Mrs. Moritaki did something unexpected. She flew to the region with some other citizens to exhort the nations to reconsider — although her doctor opposed the trip.

The two countries, however, went ahead with the tests in 1998. Still, during the trip, her group met with locals, going to schools to talk about Hiroshima’s bombing, and telling them that the possession of nuclear bombs is a terrible idea.

Unlike uncritical Japanese audiences, however, local residents, including university students, were quick to point out contradictions: With Japan under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, how can she urge other countries against possessing nuclear weapons?

“That is what we always hear,” she said with a wry smile, adding that she explained to the dissenters that her group’s goal is the total abolition of nuclear arms.

The group also faced criticism over Japan’s dependence on nuclear energy and the deployment of its Self-Defense Forces to Iraq despite a pacifist constitution.

The noncombat troops were sent to southern Iraq to help with postwar reconstruction, despite criticism at home.

Mrs. Moritaki, who opposed the SDF dispatch, saw parallels between Iraq and Hiroshima, and traveled to the country twice before and after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, visiting hospitals and studying the effects of depleted uranium. She took several photographs of dying children thought to be victims of depleted uranium. In her hometown, cancer cases began to increase 10 to 15 years after the 1945 bombing.

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