Global Network Conference in
Kyoto and Commemoration in Hiroshima, Japan

From: Bruce Gagnon's Blog: Organizing Notes

July 26 - August 8 2015


Rearming Japan - No War with China, No More Hiroshima-Nagasaki, Defend Article 9

Four of us from Maine (Mary Beth Sullivan, Leann Moran, Jason Rawn, and me) are making our journey today to Boston and then we fly on to Japan very early on Monday morning.  (Mainer Regis Tremblay has already arrived in Japan heading to Okinawa.)  All of us will meet in Kyoto for the Global Network's 23rd annual space organizing conference there which begins on July 29 til Aug 2.

The US has deployed a 'missile defense' radar aimed at China in the Kyoto prefecture and the local activists opposing that base invited us to meet in their community.  Global Network members are coming from around the world for the event.

Peace protests are happening all over Japan these days. The Japanese people are furious over heavy handed tactics by the right-wing Shinzo Abe government as it follows orders from Washington to destroy Article 9 of the Japanese constitution which forbids offensive warfare.

The US has made Japan a 'partner' of the cancerous NATO alliance which is being turned into a global war machine to stomp on those around the world who dare resist submitting to the control of corporate (bankster) capitalism.  Countries that are reluctant to surrender their resources and economies to western control are being taken down as we've recently seen in Libya (which has the largest supply of oil on the African continent).

The Japanese people understand that the US wants regime change in Beijing. Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Guam, Taiwan and more are being further militarized to create an offensive threat to China.  This means a strong possibility of war with China (and Russia) and the Japanese people (thank god) are not interested in going through that madness again.  They know something about what a nuclear attack feels like.  No more Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

After the Global Network conference in Kyoto is over many of us will move on to Hiroshima for the days of events to remember the US atomic bombing of that city on August 6 - seventy years ago.

The US likes to lecture North Korea and Iran about the evils of nuclear weapons but in fact our nation is the only one to have ever used such a 'god awful' weapon.  Add in the despicable US use of biological weapons during the Korean war when the Pentagon spread bubonic plague, smallpox, and anthrax over North Korea - utilizing the expertise of former Japanese imperial Army bio-specialists.  I wrote about this a few years ago and it seems like a good time to replay that ugly story.  Here it is:

I first wrote this blog entry in 2006 after reading an amazing book called “A Plague Upon Humanity” by Daniel Barenblatt. It tells the story of the hidden history of Japan’s biological warfare program before and during WW II.  Since we are remembering the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this week I thought we also should remember the origins of another weapon of mass destruction - biological weapons.

Barenblatt begins by revealing how Japan created a phony pretext in order to start the Manchurian war. In September 1931 Japanese army engineers secretly blew up the Japanese-owned South Manchurian Railway near Shenyang. The Japanese government then immediately blamed the explosion upon Chinese soldiers garrisoned nearby. Japan then attacked the Chinese troops, sleeping in their barracks at the time. A war was underway.

Early on Japan set up a biological warfare (BW) unit led by Shiro Ishii. BW units were established throughout Manchuria and China in Japanese army occupied territory. At these locations Chinese freedom fighters and civilians were used as lab rats and were given lethal doses of bubonic plague, cholera, smallpox, typhus and typhoid. Bodies of infected prisoners were cut open, often while people still lived, to study the effects of the biological contamination. Japan’s BW program used infected rats and fleas, dropped from airplanes, to spread the deadly diseases killing entire Chinese villages. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Chinese civilians were killed by Japan.

As WW II widened throughout the Pacific, Japan took their BW campaign to Japanese occupied islands. Japan also sent disease laden animals into Russia in hopes of spreading disease into that country. American prisoners of war were experimented on in Japanese labs as well.

Following Japanese surrender at the end of WW II one would have thought that these crimes against humanity would have been exposed and punished, similar to Nazi war crimes at the Nuremberg trials. But this was not the case. General Douglas MacArthur made a deal with Japan’s chief BW expert, Shiro Ishii, protecting him from prosecution by literally covering up the entire BW story. Ishii and his BW team gave their expertise to the U.S. According to Barenblatt, “Not only did they escape war crimes proceedings and public scrutiny by virtue of their cooperation with the U.S. occupation authorities, they also became prominent public health officials and respected academic figures in Japanese university and government circles. A few became quite wealthy as executives of pharmaceutical companies.”

The Soviet Union knew about Japan’s BW program and in late 1949 called for Ishii to be apprehended and tried by the U.S. occupation forces in Japan as the ringleader of the secret Japanese program. In response, Gen. MacArthur’s office in Tokyo denounced the Soviet charges of Japanese biological warfare and the U.S. cover-up as evidence of communist propaganda.

In fact on March 13, 1948 the U.S. War Department cabled instructions to Gen. MacArthur in Japan to give “immunity” to Japanese BW operatives. “Information retained from Ishii and associates may be retained in intelligence channels,” the instructions concluded.

There were war crimes trials in Japan after WW II. B.V.A. Roling, the last surviving judge from the Tokyo trials, who represented the Netherlands on the international tribunal, learned of this American deception many years later. “As one of the judges in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, it is a bitter experience for me to be informed now that centrally ordered Japanese war criminality of the most disgusting kind was kept secret from the Court by the U.S. government,” Roling wrote. The U.S. should be “ashamed because of the fact they withheld information from the Court with respect to the biological experiments of the Japanese in Manchuria on Chinese and American prisoners of war,” he said.

In the 1950’s Ishii was secretly taken to the U.S. to lecture at Fort Detrick, MD on how to best conduct germ warfare. And as the Korean War heated up, Ishii was used by the U.S. to advise on how to spread deadly disease in that war against North Korean and Chinese forces. North Korea, China and the Soviet Union all claimed in 1951-52 that the U.S. Pentagon was using germ warfare on a large scale in the Korean War.

The Chinese showed footage and photographs of metallic U.S. shells that snapped open upon hitting the ground, releasing a swarming cargo of insects that unleashed bubonic plague, smallpox, and anthrax. This method of delivery had been a favorite of Japan’s BW program.

Barenblatt notes that an international scientific investigating team, headed by a highly noted British biochemist from Cambridge University, did research in Korea and issued a report saying that sudden appearances of insects and spiders, of species not normally known in the region, in winter, and in association with the dropping of strange containers and objects by U.S. military planes were evidence of bio-warfare. Lab tests performed on fleas discovered in such unusual circumstances, positively showed the presence of bubonic plague bacteria.

In some cases, U.S. military jets, usually F-86 fighters, had flown over Korea dropping masses of fowl feathers tainted with anthrax.

In 1956 American journalist John Powell was charged with 13 counts of sedition for trying to expose the U.S. BW campaign in Korea. In 1953 former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover brought Powell before congressional committees charging him with “un-American activities.” Years later, in the 1980’s, Powell’s story was finally aired in an article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

So as we today hear China warning about the re-arming of Japan, with full support and encouragement of the U.S., can we not see some historical precedent for their worry? Both Japan and the U.S. have shown, since WW II, that they will use extreme measures to subdue Korea and China in the quest for control and domination of the Asia-Pacific. As the U.S. today doubles its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, can there be any doubt that China and Korea have not forgotten the stories of the past? Stories that to most Americans are unknown and long covered up.

Report from Kyoto -
Thursday, July 30

Our work at the Kyoto Space & Peace International Seminar began in earnest yesterday with excellent talks by several speakers.  We mostly covered the growing US 'missile defense' (MD) deployments in Japan and South Korea and the implications for increased global instability as the Pentagon surrounds China and Russia with these offensive systems.

Global Network board convener Dave Webb (also chairs the UK Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) did a great job with a super illustrative PowerPoint presentation showing how MD works and all the places around the world that the US is deploying the system. Yes it is like a metastasizing cancer.

Also an interesting talk from Swako Maeda on the rapidly expanding Japanese military space program that is being plugged into the overall Pentagon 'Full Spectrum Dominance' operation.

Today we board a bus and drive 2 1/2 hours to the Ukawa village along the coast where the US has recently deployed an MD radar aimed at China (although Pentagon press releases maintain it is aimed at North Korea).  We will hold a protest outside the base and meet with citizens from the small fishing village (population of 1,600) whose life has been turned upside down by this disruptive military base.

On the personal side our 16-year Bath, Maine neighbor Leann, who came on this trip with us, is doing well.  She is making friends with people and yesterday sat through four hours of talks at the seminar. Last night she handed me a birthday card she had made for me that include the following quote:

"At last I think I've discovered the secret: Do whatever your heart leads you to do - but do it?" by Truman X. Jones.

Then Leann wrote next to those words: "You did it!  You go, man! You do you!"

Supporting the Ukawa Villagers - Friday, July 31

We had a 12-hour day yesterday as we made the long drive to northern Kyoto prefecture along the beautiful sea coast to Ukawa village where the US has deployed a 'missile defense' (MD) radar aimed at China.  Our group of 50 activists from a dozen countries arrived in time for lunch at a local community center.  We were joined by about 20 members of the village committee who are actively resisting the radar deployment.


After some short speeches of welcome and introduction the village leaders shared their outrage over the base which took land from 50 families in the community.  One woman in her 80's refused to sell and so today immediately next to the base still stands her home and a large area now called the 'Peace garden'.  She intends to give it to the local peace community for an on-going place for protest.

At the end of the meeting with the village committee Global Network board convener Dave Webb presented the villagers with our annual Peace in Space Award.  (The other award this year went to Bob Anderson & Jeanne Pahls from Albuquerque, New Mexico who were unable to come to Japan.)

The small fishing and farming village (the story is so similar to the one on Jeju Island, South Korea where a Navy base is being built to port US warships) has already been impacted by lots of traffic accidents as Army personnel are now recklessly driving the narrow winding roads.  People fear the health affects from the electromagnetic radiation coming from the radar.  They worry about being a prime target since the radar is a key instrument in US preparation for a first-strike attack on China or Russia. (MD only works if used to mop up a retaliatory attack after a Pentagon first-strike).

Following our meeting with the villagers we loaded back on the bus and headed to the local government building which also houses Japanese Ministry of Defense officials.  (More than one person remarked about this unusual 'sharing' of the same building which indicates who has the dominant relationship in the community.) 

Two Defense Ministry representatives came outside to receive a letter from Global Network leaders demanding a closure of the base.  The defense officials then took questions from our group for 30 minutes and their responses were the standard 'non-answer' that we've all come to expect.  They were followed by a representative from the local government who also received our letter and then also similarly took questions - also giving us the usual 'non-answers' to our questions.  All-in-all it was a powerful experience to watch our leaders from India, South Korea, the US, Sweden and other countries ask pointed questions or make firm statements to the very nervous Japanese officials.

Once finished with the government bureaucrats we moved to the radar base for an hour protest.

A historic Buddhist temple was our first stop which is now virtually surrounded by the military base barbed wire fences.  We were told that the public now largely avoids the once popular temple because of the extreme noise coming from the generators providing power to the radar.

The THAAD AN TPY-2 X-Band Radar shed

US Army personnel with machine guns approached us on the other side of the fence as we held our banners near the barbed barrier.  Quite a few of the American GI's came out of various buildings to see our large and colorful peace contingent and as usually happens in these moments the military personnel were seen uncomfortably laughing at us.  They have likely been told by their superiors that we are all Communists and China lovers and to avoid any conversations with us.

The long ride home on the bus gave us time to process the experience from this remarkable day.  For me this is the best part of our annual conference.  When we can go and stand alongside the broken hearted villagers I feel like we have really done something useful.  We made sure to tell them that they are not alone and we pledged to them that we'd share their story widely through the Global Network international community. Ukawa villagers are now part of our growing family.

Protesting at U.S. X-Band Radar Base

Global Network members holding banners outside the Pentagon's new X-Band radar base near the Ukawa village in the northern part of Kyoto prefecture in Japan.  American soldiers stood on the other side of the fence armed with machine guns, walkie-talkies, and cameras.  Some arrogantly laughed at us.

We presented the beleaguered village committee with our annual Peace in Space Award and promised them they were not alone in this fight.  Already they’ve seen the disruption of their local culture by the American GI’s assigned to the base. The fishing and farming village will surely become a prime target as Obama ‘pivots’ 60% of US military forces into the region. Despite Pentagon reassurances the Ukawa villagers are deeply worried about the health effects from the radar just as are the residents on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and citizens in other locations around the world where the US has deployed similar missile defense (MD) radars.  No legitimate health studies have ever been made public that measure the true human impacts of electromagnetic radiation waves.


Final Declaration from the Kyoto International
Conference on Space and Peace
(August 2, 2015

The United Nations was established in 1946 after the Second World War to “Save the succeeding generations from the scourge of wars, which twice in our life time has brought untold sorrow to humankind”. The UN visualized establishing a New International Order. But the US and the erstwhile European colonial countries have joined together and instead of a New International Order, they have brought a “New International Disorder”.

The entire 20th Century witnessed wars, aggressions, and assassinations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The imperialist countries formed the NATO military alliance which is being used to indulge in attacks on sovereign nations and committing war crimes which go unpunished. Even the UN is being side tracked as NATO expands its mission as the primary resource extraction service for corporate globalization.

Instead of allowing an alternative social order to capitalism to be developed the US engaged the USSR in a nuclear arms race. US has established approximately 1,000 military bases throughout the world. It was largely responsible for boosting global military expenditures to more than 1.75 Trillion US Dollars. Along with allies like Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies the US has over the years fostered the growth of Taliban, Al-Qaida and terrorism throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and parts of Africa.

Missile defense systems, key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning, have been deployed around Russia and China. This has helped deal a death blow to hopes for global nuclear disarmament as both those nations have repeatedly warned that they cannot afford to reduce their nuclear retaliatory capability at the same time the US deploys the ‘shield’ on their doorstep.

At the beginning of the 21st Century the United Nations made another attempt to herald a “New International Order” by adopting the “Millennium Declaration” and the Millennium Development Goals. All UN members have accepted to eschew violence and follow peaceful co-existence ushering disarmament and development. But again the US and many European partners have created a “New International Disorder”. 

Lies have been spoken in the governments of US & Britain and also in the UN Security Council about the non-existent nuclear weapons in Iraq. War in Afghanistan, invasion of Iraq, attacks on Libya, and drones attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and other nations have led to the killing of many innocent people.

Having directed a coup d’état in Ukraine the US has helped create a deadly civil war on Russia’s border that appears designed to destabilize the government in Moscow.

NATO has been extended up to the borders of Russia violating post-Cold War promises to the former Soviet Union that the western military alliance would not move ‘one inch’ eastward. The US-NATO are today sending troops and heavy military hardware to NATO members Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Georgia all along or near the Russian border. These provocative developments could be the trigger for WW III.

US refusal to negotiate a ban on weapons in space at the UN has left the door open for continued development of offensive and destabilizing space technologies like the military space plane and Prompt Global Strike systems. US military satellites offer global surveillance to the Pentagon and allow for targeting of virtually any place on Earth.

The recently announced Obama ‘pivot’ of US forces into the Asia-Pacific is intended to give the Pentagon the capability to contain and control China. More airfields, barracks, and ports-of-call are needed for US military operations in the region thus we see expansion of existing bases, or construction of new bases, in places like South Korea, Okinawa, Guam, Philippines, Australia and more. We stand in solidarity with those local and national movements that resist these US base expansions.

Particularly as we meet in Kyoto, Japan we declare our strong opposition to the US deployment of a “missile defense” X-Band radar system in the local prefecture that is provocatively aimed at China.

This Kyoto Conference declares our opposition to the dangerous spread of global militarization, on behalf of corporate domination, which cannot be allowed to continue as we see the coming ravages of climate change and growing global poverty. We must all work to realize the UN ideal to “save the succeeding generations from the scourge of wars”. This can only happen with a powerful and unified global movement for peace, justice and environmental sanity.

We call for the conversion of the global war machine so that all life on our spaceship Earth may live and flourish in the years to come. We recognize the need for bold and determined action now to ensure that another world may in fact be possible.

Arriving in Hiroshima - August 2

The Global Network 23rd annual space organizing conference concluded yesterday after our membership meeting in the morning.  I gave my coordinator report, budget report, and we discussed our planned October 3-10 Keep Space for Peace Week.  We added two new persons to our Advisory Board – JV Prabaker (India) and Subrata Ghoshroy (MIT in Boston).  We decided to hold our next space organizing conference in Hyberabad, India in November of 2016.

We then boarded the high-speed train in Kyoto for the two-hour ride to Hiroshima.  Through the train window one can see the miles of rice paddies planted in every available space – including in front yards of people’s homes.


Upon arriving in Hiroshima we checked into our hotel and took a much-needed rest before taking a walk in the surrounding neighborhoods looking for a place to eat dinner.  By that time of day the intense heat, worsened by the pavement of the city streets, had begun to subside just a bit.

This morning I joined a few others who walked over the river (where Atomic bomb victims threw themselves to try to find relief from the burning of their bodies 70 years ago following the US bombing) past the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to the site of today’s plenary session.

If I recall correctly this is my 4th time to visit Japan during the August 6-9 period.  People come from all over the world in large numbers.  I first came in 1985 during the height of the Cold War. 

I’ll always remember my first day in 1985 having arrived one day after world conference activities had begun.  As I walked into the meeting hall I heard the hundreds of international delegates arguing with a Russian man who had just delivered a speech.  The international assembly was demanding that the Russians get rid of their nuclear weapons.  (I have never heard people yelling at any Americans for similar ‘infractions’.)  A few days later I noticed the Russian man sitting alone in the hotel lobby and I sat down next to him.  He began to cry as he described the difficulty in his country to move the military leaders toward considering nuclear disarmament after President Ronald Reagan had declared that the former Soviet Union was the “epitome of evil in the world”.  I knew that phrase well because Regan had made that speech in my then hometown of Orlando, Florida at the Sheraton Hotel.  I organized the protest outside while Reagan was pouring gasoline on the nuclear arms race inside the hotel.

The Russian peace activist that day gave me several hand made wooden gifts which I treasure and still have hanging in our house in Maine.

Words mean something and can have deep and lasting impact all over our fragile planet.  Making peace begins in our heart and is impacted by what comes out of our mouth. 

Letter from Hiroshima by Dave Webb - August 6
(posted at

Walking along beside the river in Hiroshima on the evening before the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing. An amazing experience. It is a warm, still night following a scorching hot day. There must be thousands of people around the area of the memorial park. The city is full tonight. All the hotels are packed apparently. Groups of people form round small exhibitions, displays, memories. Some are encouraged to snapshot their thoughts and impressions on a rice-paper stretched across a section of bamboo and leave them hanging from a tree or installation for others to share. People gather to hear talks, watch the dancers, listen to music. The messages are all the same – peace and a world free from nuclear weapons. The music (‘Where have all the flowers gone’ in Japanese) floats over a sign lit up with the words “One Dream”, over the still, reflective river. The same river that will carry hundreds of lanterns tomorrow night in remembrance of the many thousands of burnt, scarred and mortally injured who tried to seek out that same river 70 years ago.

You can’t help but be moved and try to imagine what it must have been like. But I can’t do it – having just come from a restaurant where I had dinner with some great friends – a beer, good food, great conversation. How can I?

My imagination is not that good and I have never experienced anything anywhere near as horrible, hopeless and devastating as the stories that the Hibakusha (a-bomb survivors) tell or as the Peace Memorial Museum shows. I hope I never do. I hope no-one ever does, ever again. How can we still, even now, knowing all these things, still threaten to inflict that kind of suffering on millions of people? How can we still think we have a right to possess weapons with that kind of inhumane destructive power? Of course, the vast majority of people don’t want this and that’s why representatives of peace and human rights movements from around the world arrived here a few days ago to remember the past and discuss ideas and plans for building a peaceful future, forever free from such fears.

These events are always a mixture of passion, compassion and hope. Despite the bad news that seems to arrive from all corners, most are managing to maintain a constructive manner. The Japanese people (and especially the few remaining Hibakusha) are, as always, staunchly resolute in their desire to see a nuclear free world. During this visit so far I have seen protests against military bases around the country. The people in Okinawa have much to protest about, their small island is host to nearly 74% of total US military bases in Japan and another large base extension is underway into Henoko Bay to replace the closure of Futenma air base which is closing (some good news here though – construction has been stopped for a while because of the protest from local people, supported by the governor of the island).

Their protests are extremely well organised people turn out every day at the gates of bases around the island to protest and blockade. We joined a protest at Henoko Beach which had been going on continuously for over 4,000 days and another at nearby Camp Schwab which involved over 300 people sitting for several hours in the hot morning sun to block the main gate. Despite the huge challenges they are up against they remain undaunted, cheerful and positive.

The US has pushed hard on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to force through a law through parliament to allow Japanese armed forces to fight alongside its allies. This is a reversal of Japan’s renunciation of war and the preparations for war as laid out in Article 9 of the constitution and is made against the fervent wishes of the Japanese people. It is a terrible betrayal and has seen Abe’s ratings sink – the majority of Japanese people feel very strongly about the ‘peace clause’ in their constitution and are fighting to defend it.

The international gathering here bring messages of solidarity and determination alongside stories of their own difficulties with governments moving to the right, increasing military spending and the growing beat of war drums. All are saying more or less the same thing – that we need to build a huge international movement that links nuclear weapons and military spending with campaigns on climate change, poverty and human rights to demand an alternative to austerity, militarism and war. It is extremely unlikely that we can survive another 70 years of existence with nuclear weapons on the Earth so we have to do it – and of course we can make a start by scrapping Trident!

Hiroshima to Taiwan - August 6

We've arrived in Taiwan to visit my son - just in time for a typhoon which is going to hit the island.  We had a heck of a time getting thru immigration at the airport but eventually made it after some ridiculous delays.  It's great to see Julian in his neighborhood here in Taipei which he now considers his new home.

Yesterday we participated in the closing peace rally in Hiroshima that was attended by 5,500 people.  I was asked to speak along with a representative from the Chinese peace and disarmament organization and a German Minister representing the World Council of Churches (who mentioned Ukraine which was good to hear since many people are ignoring that important hotspot).

Once it turned dark last night we went down to the river in Hiroshima where many people threw themselves to escape the enormous burning pain 70 years ago after the US unleashed the first atomic bomb on that unsuspecting city.  Floating lanterns were placed in the river in memory of those who perished in the US bombing.  The crowd along the river was huge and it was quite moving to see all of those who assembled to say Never Again!

Afterwards Mary Beth and I went to dinner with Global Network board convener Dave Webb (who also chairs the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK).  We had a great time with Dave on our last night in Japan - he went on to Nagasaki this morning for more international meetings and ceremonies.

The entire experience of being in Japan during the past week was really wonderful.  It is heartening to see so many people organizing against war and the possible destruction of all human kind.  I find hope in those wonderful and determined peace workers.  God bless them all.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

“I Write This As A Warning To The World”

Doctors Fall As They Work

Poison gas fear: All wear masks

Express Staff Reporter Peter Burchett was the first Allied staff reporter to enter the atom bomb city.  He travelled 400 miles from Tokyo alone and unarmed carrying rations for seven meals – food is almost unobtainable in Japan - a black umbrella, and a typewriter.  Here is his story from Hiroshima.


In Hiroshima, 30 days after the first atomic bomb destroyed the city and shook the world, people are still dying, mysteriously and horribly – people who were uninjured by the cataclysm – from an unknown something which I can only describe as atomic plague.

Hiroshima does not look like a bombed city.  It looks as if a monster steamroller had passed over it and squashed it out of existence.  I write these facts as dispassionately as I can in the hope that they will act as a warning to the world.  In this first testing ground of the atomic bomb I have seen the most terrible and frightening desolation in four years of war.  It makes a blitzed Pacific island seem like an Eden.  The damage is far greater than photographs can show.

When you arrive in Hiroshima you can look around and for 25, perhaps 30, square miles you can hardly see a building.  It gives you an empty feeling in the stomach to see such man made devastation.

I picked my way to a shack [sic] used as a temporary police headquarters in the middle of the vanished city.  Looking south from there I could see about three miles of reddish rubble.  That is all the atomic bomb left of dozens of blocks of city streets, of buildings, homes, factories and human beings.


There is just nothing standing except about 20 factory chimneys – chimneys with no factories.  I looked west.  A group of half a dozen gutted buildings.  And then again nothing.

The police chief of Hiroshima welcomed me eagerly as the first Allied correspondent to reach the city.  With the local manager of Domei, a leading Japanese news agency, he drove me through, or perhaps I should say over, the city.  And he took me to hospitals where the victims of the bomb are still being treated.

In these hospitals I found people who, when the bomb fell, suffered absolutely no injuries, but now are dying from the uncanny after-effects.

For no apparent reason their health began to fail.  They lost appetite.  Their hair fell out.  Bluish spots appeared on their bodies.  And the bleeding began from the ears, nose and mouth.

At first the doctors told me they thought these were the symptoms of general debility.  They gave their patients Vitamin A injections.  The results were horrible.  The flesh started rotting away from the hole caused by the injection of the needle.

And in every case the victim died.

That is one of the after-effects of the first atomic bomb man ever dropped and I do not want to see any more examples of it.  But in walking through the month-old rubble I found others.


My nose detected a peculiar odour unlike anything I have ever smelled before.  It is something like sulphur, but not quite.  I could smell it when I passed a fire that was still smouldering, or at a spot where they were still recovering bodies from the wreckage.  But I could also smell it where everything was still deserted.

They believe it is given off by the poisonous gas still issuing from the earth soaked with radioactivity released by the split uranium atom.

And so the people of Hiroshima today are walking through the forlorn desolation of their once proud city with gauze masks over their mouths and noses.  It probably does not help them physically.  But it helps them mentally.

From the moment that this devastation was loosed upon Hiroshima the people who survived have hated the white man.  It is a hate the intensity of which is almost as frightening as the bomb itself.


The counted dead number 53,000.  Another 30,000 are missing, which means “certainly dead”.  In the day I have stayed in Hiroshima – and this is nearly a month after the bombing – 100 people have died from its effects.

They were some of the 13,000 seriously injured by the explosion.  They have been dying at the rate of 100 a day.  And they will probably all die.  Another 40,000 were slightly injured.

These casualties might not have been as high except for a tragic mistake.  The authorities thought this was just another routine Super-Fort raid.  The plane flew over the target and dropped the parachute which carried the bomb to its explosion point.

The American plane passed out of sight.  The all-clear was sounded and the people of Hiroshima came out from their shelters.  Almost a minute later the bomb reached the 2,000 foot altitude at which it was timed to explode – at the moment when nearly everyone in Hiroshima was in the streets.

Hundreds upon hundreds of the dead were so badly burned in the terrific heat generated by the bomb that it was not even possible to tell whether they were men or women, old or young.

Of thousands of others, nearer the centre of the explosion, there was no trace.  They vanished.  The theory in Hiroshima is that the atomic heat was so great that they burned instantly to ashes – except that there were no ashes.

If you could see what is left of Hiroshima you would think that London had not been touched by bombs.


The Imperial Palace, once an imposing building, is a heap of rubble three feet high, and there is one piece of wall.  Roof, floors and everything else is dust.

Hiroshima has one intact building – the Bank of Japan.  This in a city which at the start of the war had a population of 310,000.

Almost every Japanese scientist has visited Hiroshima in the past three weeks to try to find a way of relieving the people’s suffering.  Now they themselves have become sufferers.

For the first fortnight after the bomb dropped they found they could not stay long in the fallen city.  They had dizzy spells and headaches.  Then minor insect bites developed into great swellings which would not heal.  Their health steadily deteriorated.

Then they found another extraordinary effect of the new terror from the skies.

Many people had suffered only a slight cut from a falling splinter of brick or steel.  They should have recovered quickly.  But they did not.  They developed  an acute sickness.  Their gums began to bleed.  And then they vomited blood.  And finally they died.

All these phenomena, they told me, were due to the radio-activity released by the atomic bomb’s explosion of the uranium atom.


They found that the water had been poisoned by chemical reaction.  Even today every drop of water consumed in Hiroshima comes from other cities.  The people of Hiroshima are still afraid.

The scientists told me they have noted a great difference between the effect of the bombs in Hiroshima and in Nagasaki.

Hiroshima is in perfectly flat delta country.  Nagasaki is hilly.  When the bomb dropped on Hiroshima the weather was bad, and a big rainstorm developed soon afterwards.

And so they believe that the uranium radiation was driven into the earth and that, because so many are still falling sick and dying, it is still the cause of this man-made plague.

At Nagasaki, on the other hand, the weather was perfect, and scientists believe that this allowed the radio-activity to dissipate into the atmosphere more rapidly.  In addition, the force of the bomb’s explosion was, to a large extent, expended into the sea, where only fish were killed.

To support this theory, the scientists point out to the fact that, in Nagasaki, death came swiftly, suddenly, and that there have been no after-effects such as those that Hiroshima is still suffering.

Memoirs of  a Rebel Journalist: The Autobiography of Wilfred Burchett, edited by George Burchett & Nick Shimmin (UNSW Press, Sydney, 2005), p.229.

Protests Growing in Japan - Tuesday, August 25

Protests are growing across the nation against Japanese Prime Minister Abe's plan to ditch, under direction from Washington, peaceful Article 9 of their constitution.

The US has long viewed Japan as an unsinkable aircraft carrier for Pentagon operations in the Asia-Pacific.

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