Jiji PressHIROSHIMA (Jiji Press) — Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui on Monday pledged to continue passing on to younger generations the experience of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of the western Japan city.
“If the human family forgets history or stops confronting it, we could again commit a terrible error,” Matsui said in this year’s peace declaration, read out at a ceremony to mark the 73rd anniversary of the bombing. “That is precisely why we must continue talking about Hiroshima.”
The ceremony, held in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, was attended by some 50,000 people, including hibakusha atomic bomb survivors, bereaved families, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other government officials, as well as representatives of 85 countries and the European Union.
Izumi Nakamitsu, U.N. undersecretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs who played a leading role in realizing the adoption of the U.N. nuclear ban treaty in July last year, joined the ceremony for the second consecutive year.
At 8:15 a.m., the exact time when the U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, citizens including a representative of the bereaved families tolled a Peace Bell and participants offered a minute of silence.
In a speech during the ceremony, Abe said, “I’m determined to bridge nuclear and nonnuclear weapon states and lead international efforts.”
As in the previous year, he stopped short of mentioning the nuclear weapons ban treaty, only saying that a gap has emerged among countries over how to advance nuclear disarmament.
During the ceremony, a list of the names of 5,393 hibakusha who died in the past year was put into a monument. The total death toll thus rose to 314,118.
The number of people certified as hibakusha stood at 154,859 across the country at the end of March this year, according to the health ministry. Their average age was 82.06, up 0.65 from a year before.
Seeks action toward N-free world
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged world leaders to do more to realize a world without nuclear weapons in a peace declaration he read out in English on Monday.
World leaders “must strive to make the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons a milestone along the path to a nuclear-weapon-free world,” he said at a lecture and discussion event on the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of the western Japan city.
Matsui also requested the Japanese government to put into practice the pacifism of the country’s Constitution in the movement toward the entry into force of the U.N. treaty.
The event was held to share the stories of hibakusha atomic bomb survivors. A video of Matsui’s speech will be posted on the Hiroshima city government’s website around Thursday.
PM urged to ratify N-ban treaty
Representatives from seven groups of hibakusha atomic bomb survivors, meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday, requested that the country sign and ratify a nuclear weapons ban treaty that was adopted at the United Nations in July 2017.
“Atomic bombs were created by the evil ideas of human beings,” said Sunao Tsuboi, the 93-year-old head of one of the groups of those who survived the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, in the closing days of World War II.
“We have to work on eliminating nuclear weapons,” Tsuboi said at the meeting, held at a Hiroshima hotel.
In response, Abe said, “We’re taking a different approach, but our country shares the treaty’s target of abolishing nuclear weapons.”
“The important thing now is to patiently continue efforts to gain cooperation from both nuclear and nonnuclear states and take practical steps,” Abe said, highlighting the importance of pursuing nuclear disarmament through the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT.