From: [The Asian Age] 19 June 1998



Hiroshima survivor in Pokhran area

By Krishnan Guruswamy

Khetolai (Rajasthan): A Hiroshima survivor took his

campaign against atomic weapons just a few

kilometres from Indiaís underground nuclear test

range on Thursday, and appealed to villagers to

join his protest to protect "your own lives."

Yasuhiko Taketa spoke of seeing a fiery cloud

engulf his hometown in 1945 and days later watching

a younger sister die of radiation poisoning. His

tearful account moved many in his audience of about

300 in the village square of Khetolai, a dairy

farming community, 10 km from the Pokhran military

test range. India set off a series of nuclear

weapons tests at Pokhran last month, prompting

retaliatory tests from neighbour and longtime rival

Pakistan and raising fears of a South Asian nuclear

war.

When Mr Taketa finished his talk, Indian

anti-nuclear campaigners who had helped organise

his visit read a declaration calling on all

countries to stop testing nuclear weapons and

destroy nuclear arsenals. Shouts of "yes, yes, yes"

rang out in the tent where men in white turbans and

women in the flowing, brightly colored skirts and

scarves of Indiaís Rajasthan state had gathered to

hear Mr Taketa.

Adults rushed to sign the declaration while

children lined up to shake Mr Taketaís hand.

"Please stand up and raise your voice against all

governments using atomic weapons," he said in

Japanese, his comments translated first into

English and then Hindi. "You must protect your own

lives. The government will not do anything for

you," he added.

On Wednesday night, Mr Taketa gave a similar talk

before about 500 people at the nearby town of

Pokhran, which shares the same name as the test

site. He planned several more appearances in the

area and in Mumbai before heading to Pakistan. (AP)