APRIL 13, 1954
NEW YORK, Monday—In all the excitement over the hydrogen bomb tests, one aspect has been given little thought but it seems very important to the women of Japan, and one of my friends there has written me telling me of letters received by the Asahi-Shimbun press. She says:
"In this letter I should like to convey the reaction of the Japanese women, ranging from a 19-year-old daughter of a fisherman to a 55-year-old housewife, whose serious concern over this matter and earnest appeal to the American women to understand their plight, are expressed in numerous letters received by the editor of 'Hitotoki' during the past few weeks.
"The victims of the explosion included not only the Fukuryu-Maru, the boat, the 23 fishermen and the tuna they caught. In the words of the 19-year-old girl: 'We—those in the retail as well as in the wholesale ends of the industry—have practically gone out of business due to these contaminated fish.' She asks:
"'Is it wrong for us in the fishing industry to ask the U.S. Government to guarantee our livelihood?' 'The effect it had upon our kitchen is also great,' writes a housewife in Tokyo. 'As you are well aware, fish is one of Japan's principal foods and we are mainly dependent upon fish for our protein content.'
"'It is also one of our large export items; consequently, the explosion has affected the Japanese economy as well. And the fact that the fish can not be prevented from entering the hazardous zone is a grave concern, particularly in regard to the future tests.'
"The women have felt scorned when they learned that Dr. Eisenbud, chairman of Health and Safety Division of the Atomic Energy Commission, who has been sent to Japan to investigate this matter, was making a much more careful Geiger test on the tuna to be exported to the United States than on the fish for internal consumption.
"When we heard the news that the U.S. has decided to ban Japanese silk scarves because they are inflammable, more than one felt that 'The United States is humanitarian as long as the problem concerns the safety of its own people.'
"Under these circumstances it is difficult to convince the Japanese that these tests are made in order to protect all of us, as some Americans seem to insist. 'We now know that these tests, if given in Bikini, will threaten our survival. We cannot be convinced that further tests are necessary. Is it not enough to know how horrifyingly powerful and unpredictable they can be? We understand that the next test is already planned for April 22nd. Will you not take a stand in an effort to stop further tests in this area—for our sake, for yours and for the sake of all the people in the world?'"
We women are far away from the problems of the Pacific in this country. But we have heard a great deal about the force of the bomb and to most of us the real value of this bomb is that it may awaken people to the fact that we can now destroy our civilization completely. Therefore, perhaps it will give all of us everywhere in the world, including the Soviet Union, the determination to prevent war, if we possibly can. If it has that effect, the explosion accomplished a desirable result, but whether we should continue the experiments is something I think our government should seriously consider.