Shizuoka Prefectural Council against A & H Bombs (Shizuoka Gensuikyo)
Victims of H-test at Bikini Atolls and former crew members of Daigo
Fukuryu-Maru (Fifth Lucky Dragon),
and united progress of March 1 Bikini Day Rally
I am from Shizuoka Prefecture, home town of the Daigo Fukuryumaru (the Fifth Lucky Dragon) which was the third Japanese site exposed to radiation after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Before dawn of March 1st in 1954, the U.S. hydrogen bomb "Bravo" blew up at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The power was 1,000 times more than the A-bomb on Hiroshima. The Daigo Fukuryumaru (the Fifth Lucky Dragon), a tuna fishing boat, was operating near the Rongelap Atoll, which was thought to be outside the warning area and was about 160km away from Bikini Atoll. A few hours later, radioactive pieces of coral reef called "Ash of Death" poured down on 23 crew members of the boat.
Something strange appeared on their body on the way to their mother port, Yaizu. As March 14 approached, the arrival date in Yaizu Port, almost all crew members' skin became inflamed, they felt listless, they were vomiting, and their hair fell out. After entering the port, a doctor diagnosed that all of them had acute radioation diseases. They were transferred to Tokyo University Hospital and the National Tokyo Daiichi Hospital from a local hospital.
On September 23 of the same year, Aikichi Kuboyama, radio operator of the Fifth Lucky Dragon, died of lung failure despite the Japanese people's wishes for his recovery.
Piecing together detailed-analyses of the crew members' activities on
the boat, scientists calculated how much radiation an individual crew member
was exposed to. According to their calculation, the highest was 710
roentgens and the lowest was 170 roentgens. 700 rem (one roentgen
is almost one
rem) is a fatal dose for humans. A semi-lethal dose is 400 rem. Judging from that, we can understand that the Fifth Lucky Dragon was exposed to a high level of radiation.
In May 1955,14 months later after they were exposed to radiation caused
by the U.S. H bomb test near Bikini Atoll, all 22 crew members left the
hospital. But doctors in charge emphasized the following three points:
the difficulty in forecasting the patients' prognosis, need of long term
that leaving the hospital does not mean recovery.
So, how is the victims' progress since then? As of today, 11 members including Kuboyama have died. The number is nearly a half out of 23 members. Eight out of 11 died of liver diseases such as liver cancer. Two other people, one who died in an accident and one who died of a cerebral infarction suffered from cirrhosis and liver function problems respectively. The average age of the 10 dead crew members was 56 years old, too young to die of liver cancer.
The right course would have been to dmand compensation from the U.S.
for the Fifth Lucky Dragon. But the U.S. government argued that their
action was not against international law. In the same manner, the
Japanese government failed to blame the U.S. for its responsibility for
damages to the victims of the H-bomb test. The Japanese and the U.S.
governments, with exceptional speed, came to a political settlement in
regard to fishery compensation of 2 million dollars. The crew members
were paid between 1.91 million yen and 2.29 million yen in compensation,
but expenses spent until that time were subtracted from the compensation.
In a political settlement, which was reached behind their backs, ignoring
their human rights, the crew members of the Fifth Lucky Dragon
ceased to be Hibakusha, although they were undoubtedly Hibakusha. They have been until today without receiving any Hibakusha relief measures.
Almost all survivors are infected with C-type hepatitis from blood transfusions
given as a remedy after the radiation exposure near Bikini Atoll and they
must live with the ongoing anxiety about possible aftereffects of the radiation.
In this context, anti-nuclear weapons activists in Shizuoka Prefecture
formed an association to support Hiroshi Kozuka, former crew member who
has been hospitalized repeatedly because of his C-type hepatitis.
Consulting with the Liberty Lawyers Guild (Jiyu Hosodan), we applied for
"seamen's medical insurance" as a minimum compensation. The Shizuoka
Prefectural government unjustly rejected this application. But our
persistent efforts succeeded in urging the Social Insurance Appeals Committee
of the Health and Welfare Ministry to accept Kozuka's claim. The
Committee over-ruled the Shizuoka governor's decision. Then, Matashichi
Oishi who now lives in Tokyo applied for the same insurance to the Shizuoka
Prefectural government and his claim was also accepted. Such an epoch-making
victory was the first step towards realizing
relief measures for the crew members of the Daigo Fukuryumaru (the Fifth Lucky Dragon).
Aikichi Kuboyama, the first victim of the H-test, said in his will that he would be the last victim of A & H bombs. His wife Suzu also demands that a world without any nuclear weapons should be realized sometime during the lifetimes of the Hibakusha and their families. And, in Shizuoka Prefecture, we carry out March 1st Bikini Day events every year mainly in Yaizu City.
In solidarity with Shizuoka Prefecture, the mayors of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki send a message to the March 1st Bikini Day Rally. The Shizuoka
governor, the Shizuoka Prefectural Assembly chair, and 75 municipality
heads and assembly chairs (the number is almost all municipalities in Shizuoka
Prefecture) also show their support for the rally. In recent years,
we have been making efforts to develop cooperation with a wider range of
the prefectural people. Especially, in Yaizu City, where the home
port of the Fifth Lucky Dragon is located, we have organized the March
1st Bikini Day Rally for the last two years with the participation of the
Yaizu mayor, deputy mayor, treasurer, Yaizu City Assembly chair, former
director of Local Authorities Confederation, former crew members of the
Fifth Lucky Dragon and their families, religious people, doctors, the president
of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Yaizu City, company presidents,
fishermen's cooperative in Yaizu and Ogawa cities, and the Yaizu fisheries
promotion center. We achieved the rally with literally all
citizens' participation. Encouraged by the Japanese Federation of Democratic Medical Institute (Min-iren). Shizuoka Doctors' Association for Health Insurance took part in the organizing committee for the March 1st Bikini Day Rally in Shizuoka this year for the first time.
I believe that through the March 1st Bikini Day Rally, Hibakusha of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki along with victims of nuclear arms development throughout
the world will band together, show the world the truth of effects of nuclear
weapons, and urge nuclear weapons possessing countries to abandon their
nuclear weapons. I can say with great confidence that this progress
will pave the way for the total ban on nuclear weapons.