A. Rosen "Hibakusha Worldwide – Similarities among Victims of Nuclear Weapons, Power and Uranium Mining"
In Japanese, the people who lived through the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are called “Hibakusha”. Instead of victimizing them, this term denotes the people as survivors. Many Hibakusha have dedicated their lives to the struggle for a better world, a world free of the nuclear threat, and have begun telling their stories to younger generations.
During the Cold War, the term “Hibakusha” was soon expanded and globalized in order to include those who have suffered from nuclear weapons testing, like the Downwinders of Nevada, Semipalatinsk, the “Pacific proving grounds” or other nuclear test sites around the world. Hibakusha from Japan have been active in reaching out to Hibakusha from the Marshall Islands, Kazakhstan, Russia, the U.S. and French Polynesia, inviting them to their conferences and including them in their call “No more Hibakusha!”
As the health effects of the nuclear industry were better understood, the term Hibakusha has been expanded even further to the indigenous people whose homes were turned into nuclear wastelands by uranium mining, the people affected by depleted uranium weapons and those affected by radioactive fallout from civil and military nuclear accidents. All of these millions of people would have had better lives, if the uranium had been left in the ground.
As physicians, we see it as our responsibility to educate the public and politicians about the intimate connections between the civil and the military nuclear industry and about the health effects of ionizing radiation.