Nagasaki’s Voice: 75 years’ Experience
Special Reports

Nagasaki’s Voice: 75 years’ Experience

Pandemic-Nuclear Nexus Scenarios Project

Nagasaki’s Voice: 75 years’ Experience
Masao Tomonaga

The nuclear weapon age has opened in 1945. We Nagasaki hibakusha experienced 73,000 early deaths as the first victim of human being. We saw the Cold War evoked in 1947. Another 74,000 hibakusha survived and experienced a long period of Cold War until 1992. Around 1955 hibakusha experienced a start of anti-nuclear movement. Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 struck us and whole Japanese. We experienced for the first time a real fear for nuclear war. We also experienced first recognition that human being now had ultimate weapons in human history that is capable of destroying whole humanity.

There developed some good signs such as PTBT Treaty in 1965 and NPT Treaty was enforced in 1970. Further, INF Treaty signed in 1987 between US and Soviet Union succeeded in markedly reducing nuclear warheads in 1990ies. However, we also experienced firmly established nuclear deterrence strategy on the basis of MAD theory by maintaining balanced nuclear powers in order to avoid nuclear attacks.

We experienced the end of Cold War without hot war in 1989, but we experienced a strong framework of nuclear deterrence policy has been maintained until now. NPT regime gradually changed to be inactive around 2010, resulting in shrinkage of nuclear disarmament. Hiabkusha and NGOs such as ICAN aroused for adopting TPNW by a strong solidarity and succeeded in establishing the Treaty in 2017, which is now close to be in force as international law.

Even now in 2020 hibakusha continue to suffer atomic bomb radiation- induced cancers and leukemia. This life-long health consequence prove genuine inhumane nature of nuclear weapons. We must challenge a new stage of nuclear abolition under dangerous divide between NPT supporters and TPNW promoters.

To overcome this divide we require power of civil society, especially of citizens of nuclear weapon states to make their governments to abandon nuclear policy. They must listen to Nagasaki’s voice gained from many serious experiences. Complementary amalgamation of NPT and TPNW into one treaty is key for future nuclearfree world. Coming each review conference of NPT and TPNW should be set as best theaters for confidence-building, dialogue, and scientific collaboration as shown in ongoing COVID19 pandemic and the climate change to overcome the divide.

To avoid human extinction by nuclear war, intended or by accident, we will experience next 25 years as a crucial stage. We hibakusha with the most important experiences would disappear by 100 Anniversary of the atomic bombings; to see nuclear-free world or not, is the ultimate question in 21st Century for Homo sapiens.


Nuclear Age, Hibakusha, Cold War, NPT, TPNW, Civil Society, Confidence-building, Nuclear-free World.

About the Author

Dr. Masao Tomonaga is a hibakusha exposed at 2.5 kilometer. After graduation from Nagasaki University Medical School in 1968 he became a physician and hematologist specializing leukemia treatment. He also continued research on how radiation exposure induces maligancy. After retirement he was appointed the Director of Japanese Red Cross Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Hospital. Since 2012 he works for elderly hibakusha at Megumino- Oka Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivor Nursery Home as Director of Clinics.

He was also appointed in 2018 President of Nagasaki Prefecture Hibakusha Association with 2000 members. He is Vice-President of IPPNW (Nobel Peace Prize in 1985) for North Asia Region and Representative for Nagasaki Global Citizens Assembly for Nuclear Abolition (ICAN member) and Director for “Nyokonokai” dedicated for Dr. Takashi Nagai, hibakusha radiologist and author of “The Bell of Nagasaki”.


Image: Unsplash stock, Jordy Meow.