Yaizu City Mayor visits Bikinians on Majuro and Ejit Islands
Shizuoka city, Bikini Atoll mull peace ties
MAJURO, Marshall Islands 8/19/2011 — The city of Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Saturday offered Bikini Atoll an alliance to promote peace-building by the two municipalities, both of which have been affected by the mid-20th century U.S. nuclear tests.”We want to build peace together with an eye to becoming peace and friendship cities,” Yaizu Mayor Hiroshi Shimizu told Bikini Mayor Alson Kelen during a meeting in Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.
From the 1940s to 1950s, the United States carried out 67 nuclear tests in the northern part of the Pacific country, while one hydrogen bomb test in March 1954 in Bikini Atoll exposed a tuna fishing boat from Yaizu to radioactive fallout.
Kelen told Shimizu that both Japan and Bikini Atoll have been affected by the radiation damage. “We have to learn from the past, we have to learn for the future,” he said.
Kelen also expressed willingness to arrange a tieup over constructing peace memorials in Yaizu and Majuro.
Bikini Atoll residents are still forced to live far from their homes due to continued radioactive contamination.
Twenty-three crew members on the tuna boat Fukuryu Maru No. 5 were exposed to the fallout from the 1954 test and one of them, Aikichi Kuboyama, 40, died six months later.
Mayor Shimizu from Yaizu City also visited Bikini Atoll Town Hall, where he had meetings with representatives from Bikini including Bikinian Mayor Alson Kelen and Bikinian Senator Tomaki Juda and some members of the Bikini Local Government. On Saturday he also visited the Alele Museum in Majuro Atoll and then had a luncheon with Japanese Embassy officials and guests along with representatives from the Bikini Local Government.
On Sunday Mayor Shimizu attended a church service on Ejit Island with the people of Bikini, and later in the day he had a dinner meeting with the Mayors and representatives from Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Uterok Atolls, which were all affected by the U.S. nuclear testing.
Mayor Kelen said, “It is our great hope that we can strengthen the relationship between our people who have so much in common.” Mayor Kelen visited Japan earlier this year in March.