Hiroshima Day – Mainichi Daily News, Japan


Hiroshima appeals for nuke-free world, help for aging survivors

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) — The Hiroshima mayor appealed Monday for the elimination of nuclear weapons and more help for aging atomic-bomb survivors fighting health problems caused by the heat and radiation of the bomb blast as the city marked the 67th anniversary of the U.S. nuclear attack.

Reading out the Peace Declaration during the annual peace ceremony, Mayor Kazumi Matsui said, “We pledge to convey to the world the experiences and desires of our hibakusha (atomic-bomb sufferers), and do everything in our power to achieve the genuine peace of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda joined the mayor at the ceremony at the Peace Memorial Park, saying, “The government of Japan will continue to highlight the importance of ‘a world without nuclear weapons'” and will support various kinds of efforts to ensure that the memory of Japan’s atomic bomb experience is passed on, both across national borders and across generations.

Noda said, “Japan will join together with like-minded countries, taking the lead in international discussions in the area of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation and will ensure that the passion and desire for action spreads globally.”

Matsui urged the Japanese government to “display bolder leadership in the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons” while referring to the “unstable situation surrounding us in Northeast Asia” without elaboration. He urged the leaders of countries with nuclear weapons to visit Hiroshima.

The ceremony, which the city said was attended by 50,000 people, observed a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m., the time the atom bomb fell on the city on Aug. 6, 1945.

Representing children at the ceremony, Ryuki Miho, 11, and Mayu Endo, 12, vowed to strive to build peace in the world. “We will continue efforts to achieve peace. We are determined to act together with our fellows.”

This year’s memorial service comes at a time when an increasing number of people in Japan are concerned about radiation-induced health problems in the wake of the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which released a massive amount of radioactive materials.

Amid heightened discussion about future energy policy in Japan after the nuclear crisis, Noda said the government will seek to establish an energy mix that provides safety in the medium to long term.

The Hiroshima mayor said, “I call on the Japanese government to establish without delay an energy policy that guards the safety and security of the people.” But he did not explicitly comment on the use of atomic energy in Japan.

The mayor also urged the government to take a “political decision” so the current aid framework for atomic-bomb survivors can cover more of those who were exposed to “black rain,” or precipitation containing fallout, after the bombing.

Among the attendees at this year’s peace ceremony was a grandson of the late U.S. President Harry Truman, who ordered the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing of the western Japan city.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos also attended the ceremony. He did so in 2010. British Ambassador David Warren and French Ambassador Christian Masset took part for the first time.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s message was read out at the ceremony. It said the elimination of nuclear weapons is “both morally right and a practical necessity in protecting humanity.”

After the ceremony, Truman’s grandson, Clifton Daniel, told a press conference when asked about his views on his late grandfather’s decision to drop the bomb that he “cannot make that judgment now.”

He also said, “I’m two generations down the line, it’s now my responsibility to do all I can to make sure we never use nuclear weapons again.”

Seiko Kubo, 68, who lost her relatives in the bombing, said in the park that it was “great” Daniel had come to Hiroshima and that she hopes he and others will work to create peace. Miyako Ueda, 84, whose mother died in the attack, said, “I wanted him to come here earlier” and that she wants him to apologize.

Representatives from 71 countries and the European Union including other nuclear powers such as Russia attended the commemoration.

Ari Beser, grandson of Jacob Beser who, as a radar specialist, was the only serviceman aboard both the B-29 bombers that dropped the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, also attended the ceremony.

Tamotsu Baba, the mayor of Namie town near the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant where all the residents have been forced to evacuate, became the first municipal leader to attend the event from Fukushima Prefecture.

The number of survivors from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki stood at 210,830 as of March, down 8,580 from a year before. The average age of survivors living in Japan is 78, according to the Hiroshima city office.

August 06, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

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