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Hibakusha's effort at U.N. nuke ban treaty conference applauded

Toshiki Fujimori smiles as he hands out origami paper cranes to delegates from numerous countries at the United Nations head office in New York. (Mainichi)

NEW YORK -- As the first United Nations (U.N) conference on negotiating a treaty designed to ban nuclear weapons finished here on March 31, it is worth mentioning the efforts of hibakusha (A-bomb survivor) Toshiki Fujimori, who was one of the speakers at the conference.

Fujimori, 73, who now lives in the city of Chino in Nagano Prefecture, was only 16 months old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945. Seven decades later, he addressed this anti-nuclear weapon delegation at the U.N. headquarters in New York -- as deputy secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, and also as a hibakusha.

By speaking at this conference on March 27, Fujimori became the third hibakusha -- following Nagasaki A-bomb survivors Senji Yamaguchi and Terumi Tanaka -- to bear testimony at the U.N. General Assembly hall. However, there was added significance this time because it was the first time for a hibakusha to give testimony at a U.N. gathering that was specifically aimed toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. His eight-minute speech, in which he stated, "Nobody, in any country, deserves seeing the same hell on earth again," was met with rapturous applause from those in the audience.

During the five-day conference, Fujimori found time to speak to delegates from numerous countries, and emphasized the necessity of sealing a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

The drive toward trying to form a treaty has been gathering speed over the past few years. In 2010, the International Committee of the Red Cross pointed out the "inhumane nature of nuclear weapons." In addition, taking into account the fact that the average age of hibakusha is over 80 years old, there is a sense of urgency concerning the need to form a treaty.

Haruko Moritaki, 78, whose father Ichiro Moritaki campaigned for the abolition of hydrogen and atomic bombs in Hiroshima after World War II, has been stressing the need to form a treaty abolishing nuclear weapons for about 10 years now. However, her campaign hit a snag when her friends criticized her vision as "unrealistic."

In response to North Korea's recent firing of ballistic missiles on April 5 and nuclear program, Moritaki states, "North Korea pursues nuclear weapons in order to antagonize countries that possess nuclear weapons. However, if a treaty banning nuclear weapons is sealed, then I think that the threat will be reduced by depriving nuclear powers of the pretext for maintaining such weapons."

At the close of the recent U.N. conference in New York, conference president Elayne Whyte Gomez, from Costa Rica, said, "I believe that we can draw up a treaty by July 7," which has given hope to people like Fujimori, who said: "This is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction."

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