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
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)