Nagasaki vows to help Fukushima victims, urges end to nukes

Asahi Shimbun

August 9 2012


NAGASAKI–Nagasaki marked the 67th anniversary of the city’s atomic bombing on Aug. 9 with a pledge to continue its support for victims of last year’s nuclear disaster.

In his address, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue called on the central government to seek “a society free from the fear of radioactivity” and to promote new energy sources in place of nuclear power.

Following the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Taue, during his speech at last year’s Aug. 9 ceremony, became the first Nagasaki mayor to call on Japan to move away from nuclear energy.

In this year’s speech, he called on the central government to “present concrete measures to implement these policies.”

Taue also called for action on the radioactive waste that has piled up.

“We cannot postpone the issue of the disposal of the vast amount of nuclear waste generated from operating nuclear plants,” he said. “It is up to the international community to cooperate and address this problem.”

In his pledge to Fukushima residents, Taue said, “We here in Nagasaki will continue to support the people of Fukushima, as it brings us great sorrow that every day they still face the fear of radiation.”

Taue spoke of the destruction in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb detonated at 11:02 a.m. on Aug. 9, 1945. He said about 74,000 people had died by the end of the year, noting that survivors experienced higher rates of cancer in subsequent years. He lamented the continued existence of atomic weapons.

“Why haven’t nuclear weapons, capable of indiscriminately and inhumanely taking so many lives and causing a lifetime of anguish for those left behind, been banned yet?” he asked.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Japan would adhere to its three non-nuclear principles as a way of moving toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

In referring to the Fukushima disaster, Noda said, “Under the basic principle of moving away from a dependence on nuclear energy, we will seek to establish a combination of energy sources that will bring peace of mind to the public in the mid- and long-term future.”

U.S. Ambassador John Roos attended the Aug. 9 ceremony for the first time. The United States sent a representative to the Nagasaki ceremony for the first time last year. Representatives from 41 nations as well as the European Union attended this year, a slight decrease from the 44 nations that sent representatives last year.

Among those participating in the ceremony from Fukushima Prefecture was Yuko Endo, the mayor of Kawauchi, a village in which all the residents were forced to evacuate as a result of last year’s accident.

In addition, 34 junior and senior high school students from Iwaki, also in the prefecture, participated.

The average age of atomic bomb survivors is now more than 77 years. Over the past year, 3,305 of those who experienced the bombings died, bringing the total number of victims to 158,754.

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