A-bomb Survivors Hope Artifacts, Testimonies ‘Will Change Views on Nuclear Weapons’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Minoru Hataguchi is interviewed in Naka Ward, Hiroshima.

Many atomic bomb survivors hope that Group of Seven leaders will change their perceptions of nuclear weapon by encountering the reality of the atomic bombings during their meeting in Hiroshima, according to a recent survey of 100 hibakusha. On the other hand, some doubt the summit will lead to a roadmap toward nuclear abolition.

In the survey, 82 hibakusha supported holding the summit in the A-bombed city. Asked why, 69 of them said the venue would give the leaders an opportunity to learn more about the impact of being bombed. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum will play a central role in this regard, with G7 leaders scheduled to visit the museum during the summit.

Minoru Hataguchi, an A-bomb survivor who served as the museum’s director for nine years from 1997, said he supported holding the event in Hiroshima.

“Many items [in the museum] will help [the leaders] understand the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and lead to the abolition of nuclear weapons,” said Hataguchi, 77, from Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture.

The museum, which opened in 1955, stores about 20,000 items, including victims’ personal effects. Hataguchi reviewed the layout over and over to look for ways to present the exhibits “effectively enough for people to understand the reality of the atomic bombing.”

“If the world leaders visit the museum, they will learn more about the inhumanity of nuclear weapons,” Hataguchi said.

An 88-year-old A-bomb survivor from Nagasaki hopes that the G7 leaders will listen to the testimonies of A-bomb survivors.

The man has given testimony in the United States, Vietnam and other countries as well as in Japan. The rapt demeanor of audiences listening to his speech assured him of the fact that “the words of A-bomb survivors can be heard beyond the borders of any country.”

“If the world leaders hear the experiences of A-bomb survivors, their views on nuclear weapons will change,” he said.

In contrast, six of the people surveyed did not support holding the summit in the A-bombed city, with four of them saying that an effective agreement on nuclear abolition could not be expected.

An 80-year-old hibakusha who lost his father in the bombing of Hiroshima said he did not believe there would be any progress from discussions at the G7 summit, which consists of the nuclear powers of the United States, the United Kingdom and France and allies protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella, amid the growing threat of nuclear weapon use by Russia, which continues its aggression against Ukraine.

“The summit discussions will not focus on nuclear abolition, but will presume their possession. If that is the case, there is no point in holding the summit in the A-bombed city,” the man said.