G7 Youth Summit
Marshallese and Japanese peoples have historical and tragic ties. The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were targets of atomic weapons dropped during wartime; in the Marshall Islands, the atolls of Bikini and Enewetak were targets of nuclear weapons detonated during times of peace.
In 1954, when the United States detonated its largest nuclear weapon at Bikini Atoll, Castle Bravo, Marshallese and Japanese bodies were exposed. A fishing vessel, the Lucky Dragon was within the fallout zone. When the ill fishermen returned to Japan, Japanese doctors knew the signs of radiation sickness. It was because of the exposure to those aboard the Lucky Dragon that the world was made aware of the ”accident” in the Marshall Islands. The Japanese and Marshallese people, as victims of nuclear weapons, both complained to the United Nations to halt U.S. weapons’ tests; but neither peoples’ voices were heard.
Both our peoples know first-hand the consequences of nuclear weapons, and we are still dealing with the aftermath even though these detonations happened decades ago. They will continue to traumatize us for many generations. Though both are peoples have been victimized by nuclear weapons, we are not simply victims; we are also activists.
Today, my generation represents the third generation of nuclear survivors. It is vital that voices of affected communities are not only heard, but that affected communities are brought together to share our stories and legacies. The G7 Youth Summit provides such an opportunity.
I have and continue to raise awareness about the impact of nuclear colonialism on Marshallese bodies, lands, and culture. Sadly, this shared nuclear legacy between the United States and the Marshall Islands is not taught in U.S. schools; it is not in U.S. history or world history textbooks. Yet nuclear weapons threaten the existence of our very planet.
As a Marshallese, I must continue to raise awareness and ensure that the Marshall Islands signs the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Most Marshallese are unaware of the TPNW. Attending spaces like the summit and hosting local workshops with Marshallese youth will help get the word out about the treaty and how it truly represents the best hope for “world peace” and is for the “good of all mankind.”