Monday, 10 August 2020

Tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Tōrō nagashifloating paper lanterns — began August 6, 1947. It was copied from the traditional August Buddhist Obon festival as a consolation to the souls of the millions of Japanese citizens who perished during World War II. 

Photo by Brent Patterson.

Due to my caution about CoVid-19 at my age, I chose to not attend this year’s annual 1945 A-bombing of Japan Memorial, hosted in Ottawa by the Society of Friends. I only missed 2 since 2009. About 60 people attended.

Photo by Brent Patterson.

This year the event was held at a pond along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway, a few meters east of Queen Elizabeth Parkway, at Third Ave, a few meters north of the new Flora Footbridge that crosses the Rideau Canal. (Google map

The proposed footbridge with labels added and red arrow pointing to location of
the Tōrō nagashi ceremony (Image from: Support Flora Footbridge, Facebook) 

It has been 75 years since the atomic bomb was dropped by the USA on Hiroshima, followed three days later with another one on Nagasaki, resulting in over 200,000 instant deaths and many more injured and dying.

In Special coverage: Hiroshima & Nagasaki at 75, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, warns us that we are all living in a ‘particularly dangerous period of our nuclear age’. Civilization is at stake. Time left in January 2020 : 100 seconds to midnight.

Though there are many fine books and articles for this 75th year milestone, I don’t find convincing evidence for preventing nuclear war. Concerned citizens and world leaders need to stand up and prevent a world holocaust that would take us back to the Stone Age. These are just 6 items online that reflect my thinking:

Robert Freeman. 75 Years On: Reflections and Preflections on Hiroshima. Common Dreams, August 7, 2020. — ‘We cannot change what happened, neither the heinous military nor the tragic moral stains that indelibly mark its occurrence. But we can transcend it, rise above it, by naming it, acknowledging it, repudiating it, and committing ourselves to a greater expression of the people and society we imagine and hope ourselves to be. It is the only option for a sane, safe, and civilized future.’

PBS. 75 years after Hiroshima, should the U.S. president have the authority to launch a nuclear attack?, August 5, 2020. — No U.S. President should have absolute authority to initiate a nuclear attack. Too many were mentally impaired while in office. William Parry, former Secretary of State, concluded: ‘Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev said it best, which is, a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.’

Helen Caldicott. The Lessons We Haven’t Learned. The Progressive, August 3, 2020. — ‘... make friends with ... all nations and reinvest the trillions of dollars spent on war, killing, and death, saving the ... world with renewable energy including solar, wind, and geothermal, and planting trillions of trees. ... free medical care for all U.S. citizens, along with free education, housing for the homeless, and care for those with mental illness.’

Gary G. Kohls, MD. Why Americans Believe That Bombing Hiroshima Was Necessary. LewRockwell, August 1, 2015. — The American government was ‘... fully aware of Japan’s search for ways to honorably surrender months before Truman gave the fateful order to incinerate Hiroshima. Japan was working on peace negotiations through its ambassador in Moscow as early as April of 1945, with surrender feelers from Japan occurring as far back as 1944. ... all of Japan’s military and diplomatic messages were being intercepted. On July 13, 1945, Foreign Minister Togo wrote: “Unconditional surrender ... is the only obstacle to peace.” …(BUT) … ‘profiteers … Wall Street, the Pentagon, the weapons industries and their lapdogs in Congress … (did) … what is profitable or advantageous for our over-privileged, over-consumptive, toxic and unsustainable American way of life, …’

Amy Goodman and David Goodman. Atomic Bombing at 75: Hiroshima Cover-up -- How Timesman Won a Pulitzer While on War Dept. Payroll. Consortium News, August 4, 2020. Enhanced from: Hiroshima Cover-up: How the War Department's Timesman Won a Pulitzer, Common Dreams, August 10, 2004 — By boldly disobeying US military orders and censors, Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett was the first western reporter to get to Hiroshima, 30 days after the bomb, and have an uncensored eye-witness report published about an ‘atomic plague’. Burchett was extensively bullied by US agents. To negate the story, the US War Department used their hired propagandist, William L. Laurence, the Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter for The New York Times, to deny massive deaths from radiation. ‘“Atomic Bill” Laurence revered atomic weapons.’ In 2003 the Times discussed removing a 1932 Pulitzer awarded to their Moscow bureau chief (1922–1936) Walter Duranty, but did not. This prompted the authors to recommend that Laurence’s prize be ‘stripped’.

Setsuko Thurlow. Hiroshima survivor, anti-bomb activist, and 2017 Nobel Prize winner living in Toronto, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on June 22, 2020, urging him to ‘acknowledge Canada’s involvement in and contributions to the two atomic bombings and issue a statement of regret on behalf of the Canadian Government for the immense deaths and suffering caused by the atom bombs that utterly destroyed two Japanese cities.’ She also urged him to sign the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

My Conclusion

Prevention. Prevention. Prevention of nuclear war is the key to world survival. Atomic wars must never be fought. Hiroshima and Nagasaki warn us of the danger if we do not act urgently and sensibly to prohibit atomic weapons development and wars.

I was 13 years old in 1945. I got the censored news on radio and newsreels at cinema. Let’s give hope to our children and grandchildren and everyone else that atomic wars must never take place, and that wars be banned as criminal behaviour.

I want an international War Prohibition Treaty! — like the 1920 League of Nations, the 1928 General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy,  the 1933 Anti-war Treaty of Non-aggression and Conciliation, and the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Every country should have a well-funded Department of Peace and a nonkilling foreign and domestic policy.

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