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June 17, 1998


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I watched my sister die in Hiroshima, says survivor

Our Correspondent in New Delhi

A survivor of the Hiroshima holocaust urged India to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, then challenged the United States and other nuclear powers to destroy their arsenals.

Yasuhiko Taketa, who was just seven miles from Hiroshima's 'ground zero' when the US nuked that city in the apocalyptic finale to World War II, said the CTBT version originally advocated by India could actually have worked to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"When they (India and Pakistan) opposed the CTBT, I thought they had a point, but I felt very sorry when they conducted their own tests," Taketa, part of a visiting three-member Japanese anti-nuclear team, said.

"We have to strengthen the anti-nuclear movement around the world, we are here to show our solidarity with peace groups in South Asia," said Ken Sakamoto, team leader and secretary general of Gensuikin (Japanese Congress Against A and H Bombs).

The Japanese delegation has come equipped with photograhic and videographic evidence of the aftermath of a nuclear explosion, and plans to travel extensively in north India to spread awareness about the destructive powers of nuclear weapons.

Taketa, in an emotional interaction with the media here, called on Japan to step out of the US nuclear umbrella. "They don't work," he said, referring to the nuclear deterrent.

''It is necessary for Japan to get out of the US nuclear umbrella as soon as posible," Taketa urged, adding, "We Japanese should make it clear that nuclear arms are not meant for self-defence. There are no winners or losers in a nuclear war, there is only wholesale destruction," he said.

Taketa was equally opposed to the sanctions imposed on India by the US and Japan, among others. "Even children in Japan say the US had no moral right to impose sanctions on India," the Hiroshima survivor said, in course of his no-holds barred interaction with the media. "Instead, the governments of the US and Japan should show leadership and determination in genuinely enforcing nuclear-disarmament, and thereby win international respect."

''People don't know about the after-effects of nuclear radiation and the dreadful nature of radioactivity,'' Taketa said, when asked about the overwhelmingly positive response in both India and Pakistan to the recent tests.

Taketa described in graphic detail how his 16-year-old sister, who was only 1.4 kms from 'ground zero', died a gruesome death of radiation and burns, as did many of his friends. "For many years after that, I have had vengeful feelings against the United States," the survivor said.

Explaining the purpose of the team's visit, Taketa said, ''We want to explain to all Indians how terrible nuclear weapons are and why they must never be used. Once they are used, they will destroy humanity!''

The three-member team will visit Pokhran and Khetolai village, close to India's test site, before moving on to Jodhpur, Jaipur and Bombay to spread the anti-nuke message.

The team will then cross the border, visiting Karachi and Islamabad on an identical message.

At each stop, the team will exhibit films and photographs, hold public meetings and interact with the public.

''We would like to ask the people of India and Pakistan, who are struggling under difficult conditions what they felt about nuclear-testing by their respective governments,'' he said.

The third member of the delegation is Masa Takubo, national coordinator of Gensuikin.

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