Nagasaki marks A-bombing
The Yomiuri Shimbun
NAGASAKI–Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue urged the government to be more aware of Japan’s status as the only nation that has experienced atomic bombings and to use its leadership in the international community to eliminate nuclear weapons, at a ceremony marking the 62nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city Thursday.
The municipal government held its annual memorial to pray for the souls of the atomic-bombing victims and peace at the Peace Park in the Matsuyamamachi district, close to Ground Zero of the 1945 bombing. About 5,500 people, including survivors and bereaved families of victims, attended the ceremony.
In the city’s annual Peace Declaration, the mayor expressed his deep concern about a recent remark made by then Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma that appeared to justify the atomic bombings, and Cabinet ministers’ positive remarks concerning Japan’s possession of nuclear weapons.
“Today, in the midst of erroneous interpretation of the atomic bombings and discussion of the possible possession of nuclear weapons even in Japan, it is necessary to enact the three nonnuclear principles into law, not merely state them as national policy,” the mayor said in the declaration.
The ceremony started at 10:40 a.m. with the ringing of bells by high school students.
Three books, listing the names of 3,069 atomic bombing survivors in the city who died or were confirmed dead in the past year, were placed in a sacred box in front of the Statue of Peace.
The number of names now totals 143,124.
Following an offering of water to the souls of the victims by bereaved families, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, and representatives of 15 foreign governments, including ambassadors from Pakistan and Iraq, which sent delegates to the ceremony for the first time, offered wreaths with the bereaved families. A record number of foreign governments were represented at the ceremony.
At 11:02 a.m., the time when the bomb was dropped, attendees offered silent prayers while bells, sirens and ship’s horns at Nagasaki Port sounded en masse.
At the beginning of the Peace Declaration, Taue referred to former Mayor Itcho Ito, who was fatally shot in April. In November 1995, Ito spoke at the International Court of Justice in The Hague showing a picture of a deceased boy who had been horribly burned by the atomic bombing.
Taue noted that following his predecessor’s appeal the international court declared that the use of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, and said, “We vow to carry on his commitment to the elimination of nuclear arms.”
The mayor urged the government to enact Japan’s three nonnuclear principles–not possessing, producing or allowing the entry of nuclear weapons–into law and work toward making Northeast Asia a nuclear weapon-free zone.
He also said the government should persist with the six-party talks to persuade North Korea to drop its nuclear programs.
Abe apologizes again
After the ceremony, Abe reiterated his apology about Kyuma’s remark saying, “I’m terribly sorry for having hurt the feelings of many atomic bombing survivors.”
“As for the elimination of nuclear weapons, I’ll continue to do my best to prevent a tragedy caused by nuclear weapons from occurring again,” he said.
Abe then met with representatives of atomic bombing survivors in a hotel in the city, and reiterated his intention to relax criteria for recognizing sufferers of radiation-related sicknesses following the atomic bombings.
(Aug. 10, 2007)