Hibakusha: Paving the way toward the abolishment of nuclear weapons via The Mainichi

“Using nuclear weapons constitutes the worst type of crime against humanity.”


A non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the area of peace education in Malaysia had organized the symposium, to which Taniguchi had been invited by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The Malay Peninsula is the area where the former Imperial Japanese Army launched a surprise land attack on Dec. 8, 1941 — thereby commencing its Southern Operations.

Taniguchi recalls that when he heard the news of this military success, he had happily screamed, “Fantastic!”

Regarding his speech in Malaysia, he found himself wondering: “Will it be possible to convey my message in a country where, historically, Japan acted as an aggressor?”

It was with a sense of unease, then, that Taniguchi showed the symposium participants a photograph of his back — which had become scarred all over from burns sustained by heat rays from the blast — and talked about his horrifying experience in the atomic bombing.

Taniguchi was 16 years old when the blast occurred in Nagasaki — at which time he had been delivering newspapers some 1.8 kilometers from its epicenter. In addition to the burns on his back, he also sustained other serious injuries.

“I hope to see a world without nuclear weapons as soon as possible,” Taniguchi stated to the assembled group. “This means no more hibakusha — and no more wars.”

After the symposium finished, numerous young people came up to shake his hand.

“I am glad I was able to speak directly about my experience,” Taniguchi said — his anxiousness clearly having dissipated.

A representative committee member of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, or Nihon Hidankyo, Taniguchi, has visited more than 10 countries around the world thus far to recount his experience. This was his first time, however, to speak in another Asian country.

One of the symposium participants asked him frankly, “Are you a victim or an aggressor?”

Another commented, “We shouldn’t be seeking to blame people. Rather, we should be working together toward peace.”

Reaffirming his stance on the matter, Taniguchi noted, “War encompasses both perpetration and injury. And what this ends up leading toward is an enormous cost to be paid.”

He added, “All of this is symbolized by the atomic bomb, which is something that we must eradicate.”

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