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PSR in Japan: A walk through Hiroshima
Ira Helfand, MD
August 22, 2012
Walking from the Hiroshima bus station to the Conference Center, the path goes directly past the A-Bomb Dome and the hypocenter, the point directly beneath the where the bomb went off. Ground Zero. It is a little after 8 AM on a hot August morning, so like that other August morning 67 years ago. I keep looking up at the sky as so many thousands of people did that other morning, and I imagine the sudden bright flash that was the last thing they ever saw.
I have been working with PSR on the prevention of nuclear war for 35 years, and I have described the medical effects of nuclear weapons to countless audiences, but I have never been in Hiroshima before, and have never felt so powerfully the fragility of human life, the ease and speed with which everything we hold dear can be destroyed, and the urgent need to warn our family and friends and communities about the danger they face.
Beyond the Peace Park, modern Hiroshima spreads, green and vibrant, a living rebuttal to August 6. It is a symbol, both powerful, and fragile, of the world we have built and which we must work so hard to protect.
For the first time many governments around the world are finally coming to understand that nuclear policy must flow from an understanding of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. It is more important than ever that PSR speak clearly and loudly about what will happen if these weapons are ever used. We are uniquely positioned to help governments and civil society understand the existential threat these weapons pose to human civilization, and it is our responsibility to bring this information to the public’s attention.