In October 2018, President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the US from its nuclear arms treaty with Russia, leading experts to warn of the ‘most severe crisis in nuclear arms control since the 1980s’. Trump stated his intention to develop the US nuclear arsenal further, apparently flying in the face of several decades of efforts by the international community to prevent the proliferation of nuclear arms. The news has shocked civil society not only in Europe but also in Japan, where several groups of Hibakusha – survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb – have written to the US embassy in Tokyo to protest against Trump’s decision.
In this seminar, Mr Michimasa Hirata, one of the few remaining survivors of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb, spoke about his experiences during and after the nuclear explosion in 1945. Dr Rebecca Johnson, Director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, examined the major challenges and threats faced by nuclear treaties in the current international context. Mr Tsutomu Ishiai, London Bureau Chief and European Editor of Asahi Shimbun, discussed the role of journalists in passing down lessons from Hiroshima and the threat of nuclear weapons to the next generation.
A video of the seminar can be found here:
About the contributors
Michimasa Hirata is a survivor of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. He was nine years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945. Michimasa is actively involved in the nuclear abolition campaign both in and out of Japan. He has participated in numerous events where he has spoken out against nuclear weapons and about his experiences as a victim of the atomic bomb. This includes giving testimony to the New York City Council; speaking at the University of Haifa, Israel; on board the Peace Boat Oceania Cruiser and at the Peace Forum in Cologne, Germany. Michimasa graduated from Tokyo University, department of Agriculture, in 1951 and obtained an MSci in Chemistry from Iowa State University in 1960.
Dr Rebecca Johnson
Dr Rebecca Johnson is Director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy and the founding President of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for raising humanitarian awareness of nuclear weapons and contributing to achievement of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. She is an expert on WMD treaties, edited the journal Disarmament Diplomacy (to 2009), and has since been a frequent analyst for OpenDemocracy. Her publications include Unfinished Business: The negotiation of the CTBT and the end of nuclear testing (UN 2009); Trident and International Law: Scotland’s Obligations’ (Luath 2011); ‘Arms Control and Disarmament’ in the Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy (OUP 2013); and numerous papers and articles on strategic developments and humanitarian disarmament.
Tsutomu Ishiai is the London Bureau Chief of the Asahi Shimbun. Tsutomu has been the London Bureau Chief and European Editor of the Asahi Shimbun, a leading Japanese broadsheet, since July 2016. As a senior diplomatic correspondent, he has been covering a wide range of diplomatic and political issues in Washington DC, Cairo and Tokyo, with a focus on nuclear issues. This includes the US nuclear-free reversion of Okinawa to Japan, anti-nuclear and independence movements in Tahiti (French Polynesia), radiation exposure to the islanders by the US nuclear tests in the Marshall Island, and the visit to the declared nuclear facility in Israel. In May 2016, Tsutomu, as foreign news editor at Tokyo HQ of Asahi, received an exclusive written interview by President Obama of the United States before his historical visit to Hiroshima as the first US president. He is author of the book War Correspondent (2015), which is based on his coverage of war zones, and co-author of A path to abolish nuclear weapons and What Occurs in Guantanamo?