Minister for Defence of Sweden,
11 October 2016
Dear Mr. Hultqvist,
When I speak about my experience of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, often the
first thing that comes to mind is an image of my four-year-old nephew Eiji —
transformed into a charred, blackened and swollen child who kept asking in a faint
voice for water, until he died in agony.
Had he not been a victim of the atomic bomb, he would be 76 years old this year. This
idea still shocks me. Regardless of the passage of time, he remains in my memory as a
4-year-old child who came to represent all the innocent children of the world. And it
is the image of massive death of innocents that has been the driving force for me to
continue my struggle against nuclear weapons.
Eiji’s image is burnt into my retina.
As a 13-year-old schoolgirl, I witnessed my city of Hiroshima blinded by the flash,
flattened by the hurricane-like blast, burned in the heat of 4000 degrees Celsius
and contaminated by the radiation of one atomic bomb. A bright summer morning
turned into dark twilight with smoke and dust rising in the mushroom cloud — dead
and injured covering the ground, begging desperately for water and receiving no
medical care at all. The spreading firestorm and the foul stench of burnt flesh filled
Many survivors of the nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been
passing in recent years with their dreams of nuclear abolition unfulfilled. Their motto
was, “abolition in our lifetime”.
Nuclear weapons are far from abolished. As you know, the nuclear-armed states are
continuing to upgrade and modernize their nuclear arsenals, and disarmament
negotiations continue to be blocked while international tensions are on the rise.
But the world now has an historic opportunity to achieve something remarkable.
Over the past five years, I have witnessed the mounting momentum of a global
movement involving states without nuclear weapons and NGOs working together
to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons. This movement has shown beyond all
doubt that nuclear weapons are first and foremost a grave humanitarian problem,
and that the terrible risks of these weapons cast all techno-military considerations into
irrelevance. Following three International Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact
of Nuclear Weapons, a United Nations Working Group recommended that
negotiations commence in 2017 for a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons.
This proposal is now on the table.
At the end of this month, all governments will vote yes or no to starting
negotiations of a treaty that will prohibit nuclear weapons. I beseech the government
of Sweden to vote yes, with every fiber of my being, and to participate actively in
negotiations next year to expose and legally challenge this most inhumane and
unacceptable instrument of mass murder.
The number of people who experienced the catastrophic humanitarian suffering
caused by nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are rapidly diminishing. This
is an historic moment for us, for you, and for the world.
Let us seize this opportunity to ban nuclear weapons – in our lifetime. For all the
children, like my nephew Eiji, and you can imagine your own children, and the
children who will be born — that they might inherit the privilege to love and enjoy
our one shared world. Nothing less is at stake.
You have the power to make this happen.
I beg you to use it.
Survivor of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima
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