Image: Attendees of the Nuclear Weapons After the Ban webinar, including Tanaka Terumi.

The international webinar, ‘Nuclear Weapons after the ban: Remembering Nagasaki’  co-hosted by Japanese, Peace Studies, Peace Boat Japan and the Asia Pacific Centre UNE, was held on April 9 via Zoom. The event was a resounding success while being a sobering reminder of the need to eliminate nuclear weapons. With 75 registrants from Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, UK, USA and China, the power of lived experience was demonstrated through the testimonial of Tanaka Terumi, who spoke on the webinar from Japan.

Mr Tanaka was exposed to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, which took the lives of five of his family members. When the atomic bomb was dropped, he was upstairs in his house, 3.2 kilometres from the hypocenter. Mr Tanaka is one of the many Hibakusha who have dedicated large parts of their lives to anti-nuclear activism. The vivid memories of the catastrophic effects that the nuclear bombing had on his family and his community, have driven Tanaka’s continued efforts to make sure no one would have to suffer through such an event again. At the webinar, Mr Tanaka frequently repeated that he felt he was not as heavily impacted as others and that is the reason he wishes to continue to tell his story.

Participants asked excellent questions about why Nagasaki was not as well remembered as Hiroshima, how the survivors were cared for after the bombing and how Australian educational institutions could remember these events.

One attendee, Professor Frank Hutchinson summed up the event as follows:

‘The webinar raised important  issues about honest history-telling, war trauma,  empathy, moral imagination, shared humanity, and working to  create  a better  world for future generations free from nuclear weapons.’ The organisers hope to run a similar webinar during next year’s conference to celebrate forty years of Peace Studies at UNE.

Co-organiser Dr Gwyn McClelland, Lecturer in Japanese at UNE, published a book with Routledge entitled ‘Dangerous Memory in Nagasaki: Prayers, Protests and Catholic Survivor Narratives’ in late 2019, after completing an oral history project which involved interviewing twelve atomic bomb survivors. The testimonial delivered in this webinar is an increasingly rare chance to hear directly from a kataribe, or spokesperson, who suffered the atomic bombing.

Co-organiser and speaker at the webinar, Dr Marty Branagan’s monograph Global Warming, Militarism and Nonviolence was used by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons to guide their successful campaign to declare nuclear weapons illegal. ICAN members spoke at Peace Studies’ 2020 international conference.

If you would like to view the webinar and listen to Tanaka Terumi’s testimonial, follow the link here.