Japan: Messages for a peaceful future 64 years post-the Hiroshima & Nagasaki nuclear atrocities Print E-mail

Nagasaki Peace Declaration 2009

We, as human beings, now have two paths before us.

While one can lead us to “a world without nuclear weapons,” the other will carry us toward annihilation, bringing us to suffer once again the destruction experienced in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 64 years ago.

This April, in Prague, the Czech Republic, U.S. President Barack Obama clearly stated that the United States of America will seek a world without nuclear weapons. The President described concrete steps, such as the resumption of negotiations on a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the Russians, pursuit of the U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans all nuclear explosions in the air, the sea, underground and in outer space, and seeking to conclude a treaty to ban the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, both essential components of nuclear weapons. The President demonstrated strong determination by saying that “as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act,” which profoundly moved people in Nagasaki, a city that has suffered the horror of atomic bombing.

President Obama’s speech was a watershed event, in that the U.S., a superpower possessing nuclear weapons, finally took a step towards the elimination of nuclear armaments.

Nevertheless, this May, North Korea conducted its second nuclear test, in violation of the United Nations Security Council resolution. As long as the world continues to rely on nuclear deterrence and nuclear weapons continue to exist, the possibility always exists that dangerous nations, like North Korea, and terrorists will emerge. International society must absolutely make North Korea destroy its nuclear arsenal, and the five nuclear-weapon states must also reduce their nuclear weapons. In addition to the U.S. and Russia, the U.K., France and China must sincerely fulfill their responsibility to reduce nuclear arms under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In a bid for thorough elimination of nuclear armaments, we urge the strongest efforts towards the Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC), which the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last year called on governments to negotiate actively. It is necessary to insist that not only India, Pakistan and North Korea, but also Israel, a nation widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, and Iran, a nation suspected of nuclear development, should participate in the convention in order to ensure that those nations totally eliminate their nuclear weapons.

Supporting the speech delivered in Prague, the Government of Japan, a nation that has experienced nuclear devastation, must play a leading role in international society. Moreover, the government must globally disseminate the ideals of peace and renunciation of war prescribed in the Japanese Constitution. The government must also embark on measures to establish a firm position on the Three Non-Nuclear Principles by enacting them into law, and to create a Northeast Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, incorporating North Korea.

We strongly urge U.S. President Obama, Russia’s President Medvedev, U.K. Prime Minister Brown, France’s President Sarkozy and China’s President Hu Jintao, as well as India’s Prime Minister Singh, Pakistan’s President Zardari, North Korea’s General Secretary Kim Jong-il, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, and all the other world’s leaders, as follows.

Visit Nagasaki, a city that suffered nuclear destruction.

Visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and stand at the site of nuclear devastation, where the bones of numerous victims are still interred. On August 9, 1945 at 11:02 a.m., Nagasaki was devastated by intense radiation, heat rays of several thousand degrees Centigrade and horrific blast winds. Fierce fires destroyed Nagasaki, turning the city into a silent ruin. While 74,000 dead victims screamed silently, 75,000 injured people moaned. Everybody who visits is sure to be overwhelmed with the anguish of those who died in this atomic bombing.

You will see those who managed to survive the atomic bombing. You will hear the voices of elderly victims, who try to tell the story of their experiences even as they continue to suffer from the after-effects. You will be stimulated by the passion of young people, who carry out their activities in the belief that although they did not share the experience of the atomic bombing, they can share the awareness that strives for the elimination of nuclear armaments.

Now, in Nagasaki, the General Conference of Mayors for Peace is being held. In February next year, the Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will be held, attended by NGOs from both within Japan and overseas. For the next year’s NPT Review Conference, citizens, NGOs and cities strive to strengthen their unity.

People in Nagasaki are circulating petitions calling for President Obama to visit Nagasaki, a city that experienced atomic bombing. Each of us plays a vital role in creating history. We must never leave this responsibility only to leaders or governments.

We ask the people of the world, now, in each place, in each of your lives, to initiate efforts to declare support for the Prague speech and take steps together towards “a world without nuclear weapons.”

Some 64 years have passed since the atomic bombing. The remaining survivors are growing old. We call once again for the Japanese government, from the perspective of the provision of relief for atomic bomb survivors, to hasten to offer them support that corresponds with their reality.

We pray from our hearts for the repose of the souls of those who died in the atomic bombing, and pledge our commitment to the elimination of nuclear armaments.

Tomihisa Taue
Mayor of Nagasaki
August 9, 2009

Peace Declaration in 10 Langueges HERE

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Please also revisit Yosuke Yamahata's Nagasaki Journey of August 10 1945 HERE  

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~ Friday August 7 2009

Hiroshima sides with Obama on nukes

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba urged people around the world to join the city's effort to abolish atomic weapons in response to U.S. President Barack Obama's appeal for a world free of nuclear arms, as Hiroshima marked the 64th anniversary of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing Thursday.
Poignant: A woman and girl pray for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima at the city's Peace Memorial Park ?on Thursday, the 64th anniversary of the attack. KYODO PHOTO

"We support President Obama and have a moral responsibility to act to abolish nuclear weapons," Akiba said in the Peace Declaration at a commemorative ceremony at the city's Peace Memorial Park, reiterating Hiroshima's conviction that "the only role for nuclear weapons is to be abolished."

"To emphasize this point," said Akiba, "we refer to ourselves, the great global majority, as the 'Obamajority,' and we call on the rest of the world to join forces with us to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020. The essence of this idea is embodied in the Japanese Constitution, which is ever more highly esteemed around the world.

"We have the power. We have the responsibility. And we are the Obamajority," he said. "Together, we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can."

In April, Obama said in Prague that "the United States has a moral responsibility to act" as the only nuclear power to have used atomic weapons and the country will "take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons."

During the 50-minute memorial ceremony, a moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima at an altitude of about 600 meters 64 years ago, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 140,000 people by the end of 1945.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, a total of 235,569 survivors were living throughout Japan as of March 31, down 8,123 from the year before, with their average age at 75.92, while some 4,500 hibakusha live overseas.

Prime Minister Taro Aso attended the ceremony, vowing to strongly stand by Japan's three antinuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on its soil.

On the previous day, the prime minister and health minister Yoichi Masuzoe struck a deal to provide relief to all 306 plaintiffs who sued to be recognized as suffering from illnesses related to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing their legal battle, which has been fought in courts across Japan since 2003, effectively to an end.

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 Monday August 10 2009

Nagasaki seeks world ban on nukes

64 years after A-bomb, mayor says alternative is annihilation Nagasaki

Kyodo News

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, echoing a call by U.S. President Barack Obama, urged people around the globe on Sunday to choose a path toward a world free of nuclear weapons as the city commemorated the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing.

A moment of silence was observed at 11:02 a.m., the time on Aug. 9, 1945, when a U.S. bomber dropped the atomic bomb that killed an estimated 74,000 people by the end of that year.

Another 3,304 people were recognized this past year as fatal victims of the Nagasaki bombing, bringing the total of those who have died to 149,266, according to city officials.

"We, as human beings, now have two paths before us," Taue said in his Peace Declaration during the annual memorial ceremony at Nagasaki Peace Park. "While one can lead us to a world without nuclear weapons, the other will carry us toward annihilation."

Obama said in April that the United States will seek a world without nuclear weapons, creating a wave of optimism among people petitioning for the abolishment of nuclear arms around the world.

"President Obama's speech was a watershed event, in that the United States, a superpower possessing nuclear weapons, finally took a step toward the elimination of nuclear armaments," Taue said, adding that people in Nagasaki are circulating petitions urging the U.S. leader to visit their city.

As for Japan, Taue said the country must take a leading role in disseminating around the world the "ideals of peace and renunciation of war" as stipulated in the Constitution.

Taue urged the central government to turn into law Japan's stated three nonnuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory. He also said the government should work on creating a nuclear weapons-free zone in Northeast Asia, including North Korea.

Taue touched on Pyongyang's nuclear test in May, saying, "As long as the world continues to rely on nuclear deterrence and nuclear weapons continue to exist, the possibility always exists that dangerous nations like North Korea and terrorists will emerge."

He urged the international community to make North Korea destroy its nuclear arsenal and said the five major nuclear powers ­ Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States ­ must "fulfill their responsibility to reduce nuclear arms."

In support of Taue, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, president of the U.N. General Assembly and a Roman Catholic priest, spoke at the ceremony, saying, "The only certain way to assure that nuclear weapons will never be used again is to eliminate them outright."

Prime Minister Taro Aso pledged at the ceremony to stick to the three nonnuclear principles as he gave a speech similar to the one he delivered in Hiroshima three days earlier.

Aso mentioned an agreement reached Thursday under which 306 plaintiffs will be granted certification as suffering from atomic bomb-related illnesses and get the accompanying benefits.

The move came after the government lost 19 straight lawsuits filed across the country over the certification issue, putting an end to their six-year-long legal battle.

Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, six days after Nagasaki was bombed.

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 August 6 2009

Hiroshima mourns atomic bomb anniversary

The model of Hiroshima after the atomic bomb blast is seen in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Hiroshima of Japan, on Aug. 5, 2009, one day prior to the 64th Hiroshima A-bombing anniversary. Hiroshima citizens held activities and events to mark the upcoming 64th Hiroshima A-bombing anniversary. A nuclear bomb was detonated over Hiroshima at an altitude of some 600 meters at the end of World War Two, killing an estimated 140,000 people at 8:15 a.m of Aug. 6, 1945. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)

HIROSHIMA, Japan, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Some 50,000 people gathered Thursday at the peace park in Hiroshima to mourn the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba delivered a peace declaration, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.

"The hibakusha still suffer a hell that continues," said Akiba.

"The Japanese government should support hibakusha, including those who were victims of black rain and those who live overseas," he said.

It was reported Wednesday that the Japanese government aims to come to an agreement with all atomic bomb survivors who have sued the government for financial support to help them pay medical bills for illnesses related to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Akiba also said "The year 2020 is important as we want to enter a world without nuclear weapons with as many hibakusha as possible. We call on the world to join forces with us to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020."

Referring to the movements such as the environmentalists, Akibasaid, "Global democracy that respects the will of the world and respects the power of the people has begun to grow."

"We have the power. We have the responsibility. We are the Obamajority. And we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes we can," said the mayor.

On Wednesday, Akiba urged the people around the world to join the city's efforts to abolish nuclear weapons in response to U.S. President Barack Obama' s appeal for a world free of nuclear weapons.

During the 50-minute memorial ceremony, a moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima 64 years ago, killing nearly 100,000 people in a blink.

Also present at the ceremony was Prime Minister Taro Aso, who vowed to adhere to Japan's three antinuclear principles and called for an end to nuclear weapons.

In a speech following that of Akiba, Aso said," Japan will maintain its three non-nuclear pledges of not possessing, not producing and not allowing nuclear weapons."

"The government will continue to do all it can to help survivors of the atomic bombings," he said.

The U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, which took place on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, led to the deaths of an estimated 140,000 people toward the end of World War II.

On Aug. 9, a second nuclear bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, and six days later, Japan surrendered. In the years since the war, many people have developed diseases that are considered to be related to exposure to radiation created by the bombs.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso lays a wreath at Memorial Cenotaph during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan on Aug. 6, 2009. Hiroshima on Thursday mourned the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)

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 July 31, 2009

The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Declaration of Nobel Peace Laureates

Sixty-four years ago, the horror of atomic bombs was unleashed on Japan, and the world witnessed the destructive power of nuclear weapons.

Today, with just a year until the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference convenes at the United Nations in the spring of 2010, we, the undersigned Nobel Peace laureates, echo President Obama’s call for a world without nuclear weapons and appeal to the leader of every nation to resolutely pursue this goal for the good of all.

We find ourselves in a new era of proliferation. Despite the near universal ratification of the 1970 treaty, which binds states to nuclear disarmament, little progress has been made to fulfill this pact and eliminate nuclear weapons from our world. On the contrary, as the nuclear powers have continued to brandish their weapons, other nations have sought to produce their own nuclear arsenals.

We are deeply troubled by this threat of proliferation to non-nuclear weapon states, but equally concerned at the faltering will of the nuclear powers to move forward in their obligation to disarm their own nations of these dreadful weapons.

The fact that humanity has managed to avoid a third nuclear nightmare is not merely a fortunate whim of history. The resolve of the A-bomb survivors, who have called on the world to avert another Hiroshima or Nagasaki, has surely helped prevent that catastrophe.

Moreover, the millions who have supported the survivors in their quest for peace, as well as the reality of our collective restraint, suggest that human beings are imbued with a better, higher nature ­ an instinct for inhibiting violence and upholding life.

In the months leading up to the NPT Review Conference, this higher nature must rise to guide our efforts. Nations are now reviewing progress in the treaty’s implementation and mapping a path forward. For the first time in many years, the opportunity exists for genuine movement toward reducing and eliminating nuclear arms.

As this process unfolds, world leaders will be faced with a stark choice: nuclear nonproliferation or nuclear brinkmanship. We can either put an end to proliferation, and set a course toward abolition, or we can wait for the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be repeated.

We believe it is long past time for humanity to heed the warning made by Albert Einstein in 1946: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

We know that such a new manner of thinking is possible.

In the past 10 years, the governments of the world ­ working alongside international institutions, nongovernmental organizations and survivors ­ have negotiated treaties banning two indiscriminate weapons systems: land mines and cluster bombs. These weapons were banned when the world finally recognized them for the humanitarian disaster they are.

The world is well aware that nuclear weapons are a humanitarian disaster of monstrous proportion. They are indiscriminate, immoral and illegal. They are military tools whose staggering consequences have already been seen in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the long-term impacts of those attacks.

Eliminating nuclear weapons is indeed a possibility. More than that, it is a fundamental necessity in forging a more secure planet for us all.

As Nobel Peace laureates, we call on the citizens of the world to press their leaders to grasp the peril of inaction and summon the political will to advance toward nuclear disarmament and abolition. To fulfill a world without nuclear weapons, and inspire a greater peace among our kind, humanity must stand together to make this vision a reality.

This statement was signed by the following 17 Nobel Peace Prize winners: Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Kim Dae-jung, the Dalai Lama, F.W. de Klerk, Shirin Ebadi, Mohamed ElBaradei, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, John Hume, Wangari Maathai, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Jose Ramos-Horta, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Desmond Tutu, Betty Williams, Jody Williams and Muhammad Yunus. It was put together and released by the Chugoku Shimbun, Hiroshima’s daily newspaper. It is used here by the Progressive Media Project with the permission of the newspaper.

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 August 8 2009

Japan marks 64th anniversary of Nagasaki atomic bombing

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso carries a wreath during a memorial ceremony at Nagasaki Peace Park in Nagasaki, southern Japan, on Sunday August 9, 2009. Nagasaki marks the 64th anniversary of the world's second atomic bomb attack on Sunday. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

NAGASAKI, Japan, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- More than 5,000 people gathered Saturday in the Peace Park in Nagasaki to mark the 64th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the southwestern Japanese city.

At the memorial ceremony, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue read the Peace Declaration, calling for worldwide nuclear disarmament and enhanced measures for nuclear nonproliferation.

Lauding U.S. President Barack Obama's statement on a world without nuclear weapons this April in Prague, Taue said: "...the government of Japan, a nation that has experienced nuclear devastation, must play a leading role in international society."

"In a bid for thorough elimination of nuclear armaments, we urge the strongest efforts towards the Nuclear Weapons Convention, which the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon last year called on governments to negotiate actively," said the Mayor.

Doves fly around the statue at the peace memorial park after being released for the 64th memorial ceremony for atomic bomb victims in Nagasaki, western Japan, on Aug. 9, 2009.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)

In his speech at the ceremony, Prime Minister Taro Aso reaffirmed Japan' s three principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on its soil.

On Aug. 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb was dropped by the United States on Nagasaki three days after Hiroshima suffered the world's first atomic bombing. The attack, which occurred at 11:02 a.m., killed an estimated 74,000 people by the end of 1945, and many more later from radiation sickness.

Statistics showed that to date the atomic bombing has claimed a total of 149,226 lives in Nagasaki, including 3,304 people who died from injuries related to the bombing in the past year.

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 Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2008

The challenge of Hiroshima

 The eternal peace flame is seen in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima of Japan, on Aug. 5, 2009, one day prior to the 64th Hiroshima A-bombing anniversary. Hiroshima citizens held activities and events to mark the upcoming 64th Hiroshima (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)

By HIDEKO TAMURA
Special to The Japan Times

MEDFORD, Oregon ­ When the penetrating heat of summer rises to a scorching point, I am brought back to one sunny day in 1945, faraway from my Oregon home today. I was a sixth grader waiting for my mother. On that day, Aug. 6, in Hiroshima, the sun and the Earth melted together. Many of my relatives and classmates simply disappeared. I would never again see my young cousin, Hideyuki, who had been like a brother to me, or Miyoshi, my best friend. And on that day of two suns, my mother did not come home.

Sixty-three years have passed. The survivors of Hiroshima continue to testify to the horrific consequences of that day and the casualties that continue to the present. At the same time, nuclear arsenals have made quantum leaps in quantity and effects. More nations possess such weapons today ­ enough to extinguish the world. The worst evil, "the fear of violent death at the hands of other men" in the words of 17-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes, resonates in these developments. The demise of Hiroshima was a beginning of what was to come from the darker side of human nature.

However challenging, we must now appeal to our higher nature and take hold and seek a pathway of hope, valuing and affirming life rather than ending it, before it is too late.

My path to Hiroshima began in Tokyo, where I was born. My family life changed abruptly when my father was drafted into the military. We moved to his hometown, Hiroshima, where my grandfather owned and ran a multinational conglomerate that produced rubber goods and sewing needles. He was a devout Buddhist who taught charity to all in daily life and employed disabled persons to do what they could. In school, filial piety, patriotism and Spartan discipline were our early building blocks beneath a sweeping nationalism. Despite a mythic hope of victory, the toll of the war was evident in the disappearing food, material goods and young men. The end came on the day the A-bomb exploded.

Moments after the explosion, a sea of injured and dazed emerged as their city went up in flames. I fled with a friend from next door and her family. She had just gotten home from an outdoor assembly and was so burned that her face was unrecognizable. As I searched for my mother I found a kindergarten teacher from the neighborhood lying naked without any sign of burns or any other injuries. She died in front of me, gasping for air and convulsing. Many people continued to die around us in a similar way. I developed a high fever and remained for sometime on the borderline between life and death.

The often unexpressed inner wounds were as scarring as the physical wounds. The void created by massive loss and termed "psychic numbing" by American psychiatrist Jay Lifton, who is known for his studies of the psychological effects of war and atrocities, permeated our very being and remained. Intense anxiety persisted over ubiquitous radiation effects. Our internal resistance to complaining and the prohibition by the Allied authorities on reporting the growing casualties kept the matter silent.

I read voraciously in search of the meaning of our predicament, but found nothing that spoke to my devastated soul. This compelling quest since my teens would not be fulfilled without a lifetime of searching and trials. It would include deeply sincere encounters and bonding with dedicated teachers, loyal friendships from both sides of the ocean, and study abroad with lengthy graduate and professional training in the healing profession in which I would spend most of my adult years in the United States.

The country that took away my mother and relations during the time of war also sent a young missionary who believed in me and filled my empty heart. In the segregated South, I found black college students and their families living with unbending dignity in spite of social injustice. A Pennsylvania Dutch family welcomed me as a daughter and even included me in their will before they passed away.

In the Nuclear Freeze movement of 1982, I began to speak on the subject of Hiroshima in the U.S. and Britain. But it was not until I came to the University of Chicago Hospitals as a clinical social worker in 1987 that I witnessed so clearly a life-validating choice for the use of radiation. There in the Radiation Oncology Department, not far from the site of the Manhattan Project, the very substance that destroyed our city and its citizens was saving and extending lives.

My father believed that there would be a peaceful use of radiation. I also remembered his recollection of stopping civilians from stoning a very young wounded prisoner of war shortly after the bomb explosion. As a commanding military officer, he ordered burials, out of respect for Western tradition, for prisoners of war who died that day. They, too, became a part of our soil.

Since my retirement from the hospital in 2003, I serve on the Multicultural Commission for the city of Medford, Oregon. I took some 40 Americans to Japan to sing songs of peace for the 61st anniversary of Hiroshima's bombing. We sang to the sick in Kyoto, with the Kwansei Gakuin Glee Club OB in Kobe, and with the Iris Choir in Hiroshima. In the Peace Park by the Memorial Mound, where the 70,000 unidentified ashes rest, my daughter sang an ode she wrote to my mother whom she never met. Our American conductor sang his own song of regrets over Hiroshima and of his prayer and love for the people of Japan and their land. The hosts and the visitors embraced each other in this experience of a lifetime.

Today, OSD (One Sunny Day) Initiatives, an educational organization I formed after this trip, provides pathways to connect people for purposes of reconciliation and collective healing. Among its activities is assisting the Hiroshima Peace Museum in presenting its photo exhibition in all 50 states in the U.S. by the end of 2008.

We have seen ultimate destruction, but it is not enough to simply warn against it. Amid the threat of human extinction, the formidable challenge is living and spreading a life-affirming quest for being truly human. Our future depends on it
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Hideko Tamura is a retired therapist/consultant and a Hiroshima survivor living in Medford, Oregon.