Tuesday, May 31, 2016

the last book I ever read (Susan Southard's Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, excerpt nine)

from Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard:

Taniguchi did not deceive himself about the practical, large-scale impact of his efforts. Throughout the world, he faced constant reminders of how little—if anything—people knew about the atomic bombings and survivors’ ongoing conditions and how erroneous their limited knowledge often was. Despite numerous complex international treaties that limited certain kinds of nuclear tests and weapons development, reduced stockpiles, and defined the world’s nuclear weapons states as the United States, the Soviet Union, China, France, and the United Kingdom, Cold War tensions persisted. In the 1970s alone, 550 nuclear tests were conducted worldwide, and nuclear stockpiles increased by nearly 40 percent, heightening the threat of nuclear war, if only by the sheer number of weapons that existed. By 1981, the world’s stockpiles totaled 56,035 weapons, 98 percent of which belonged to the United States and the Soviet Union. Every time a nuclear weapons test occurred somewhere in the world, survivors in Nagasaki felt a rush of chilling memories mixed with anger and despair. “Clever and foolish people have not changed at all since that August 9,” Dr. Akizuki remarked, disparaging the countries who conducted these tests. “What is sad is that they are still making the same mistake more than a quarter of a century later.” What kept Taniguchi going, despite constant pain and the discouraging realities of nuclear weapons development, was his sense of responsibility to all those whose voices, unlike his, that had been silenced—“hundreds of thousands of people who wanted to say what I’m saying, but who died without being able to.”

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