Hiroshima prays for peace / 40,000 commemorate 62nd anniversary of A-bombing of city
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prayers were offered for a nuclear-free world at a ceremony marking the 62nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima in World War II, held Monday at the Peace Memorial Park in the city.
“Here in the 21st century, the time has come when problems can actually be solved through the power of the people,” Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba declared.
Akiba said he would call for the elimination of nuclear weapons, as it is the will of humanity, at a general meeting of the United Cities and Local Governments, an international organization of municipalities, to be held in South Korea in October.
Despite international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, North Korea conducted a nuclear test in October.
The ceremony, organized by the Hiroshima municipal government, was attended by about 40,000 people, including the bereaved families of atomic bomb victims, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and ambassadors from 42 countries–the largest number ever.
At 8:15 a.m.–the time Hiroshima was bombed 62 years ago–Yukiko Kuroda, representing the bereaved families, and 12-year-old Ryosuke Soda, symbolizing the next generation, rang a bell for peace. All participants fell silent for a minute of prayer.
“Despite their [the survivors’] best efforts, vast arsenals of nuclear weapons remain in high states of readiness–deployed or easily available,” Akiba said. “Proliferation is gaining momentum, the human family still faces the peril of extinction.”
He added that old-fashioned leaders, clinging to an old worldview, have ignored the voices of atomic bomb survivors.
Akiba described efforts made by Mayors for Peace, attended by leaders of 1,698 cities in 122 countries and regions, and the Hiroshima municipal government’s plan to host exhibitions on the atomic bombings in 101 U.S. cities.
Recently, former Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma made a comment that could have been taken as justifying the U.S. atomic bombings.
Akiba said the government is obliged to learn the realities of the bombings and the philosophies of the victims, and spread this knowledge across the globe.
Akiba also offered prayers for former Nagasaki Mayor Itcho Ito, who was shot dead in April during his reelection campaign.
In closing his speech, Akiba said, “Let us pledge here and now to take all actions required to bequeath to future generations a nuclear weapon-free world.”
Two 12-year-old primary school students–Hiroki Mori and Nao Yamasaki–read out their vows for peace, saying that to create a peaceful world, strength and gentleness were necessary to break the chain of hate and sorrow.
“Since the war, our country for 62 years has taken the path toward international peace,” Abe said during the ceremony. “We’ll firmly maintain our three nonnuclear principles.”
During the past year, 5,221 atomic bomb survivors have died or have been confirmed as dead, and their names were added to a monument for the victims. There are now 91 books remembering victims, containing 253,008 names.
As of the end of March, there were 251,834 living atomic bomb survivors across the nation, with an average age of 74.6 years old.
(Aug. 7, 2007)