“Between 1966 and 1996, France detonated 193 atomic bombs on Moruroa and Fangataufa Atolls. The land and the people of French Polynesia’s six archipelagos – symbolised by these six stones placed on a traditional paepae – faced significant upheaval, as the nuclear tests were imposed on them. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Bikini, Enewetak, Montebello, Emu Field, Maralinga, Malden, Kiritimati, Johnston, Moruroa, Fangataufa – many locations around the Pacific chosen as nuclear test sites by the Unitied States, the United Kingdom, and France. The thousands of former test-site workers and the peopls of the Pacific live with the memory of these weapons, which today still continue to affect their health and environment. This Memorial Site was inaugurated during the Presidential term of Mr. Oscar Manuta Temaru on 2nd of July 2006, the fortieth anniversary of the first nuclear test on Moruroa Atoll.”
So what is the controversy?
On June 11, 2014, Gaston Flosse, President of French Polynesia proposed to remove the monument in order to develop the area for tourism.
In response, Moruroa e Tatou launched a petition to support the monument’s preservation. Additionally, Japanese survivors and the former mayors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima submitted a letter to the President on June 30 asking him to reconsider the planned demolition.
On July 1st, the President dedicated a new memorial to Jaques Chirac further upsetting the protesters. As reported by Radio New Zealand International, “The monument is positioned about one hundred metres from a memorial to the victims of nuclear tests, which Mr Chirac resumed in 1995”.
On July 2nd, according to the The Asahi Shimbun, “Flosse proposed an alternative site for the memorial to a local group, saying, ‘There will be no problems if the memorial is relocated to a different place.’ However, many people oppose the idea and support keeping it at its current location.”