Nagasaki commemorated on Thursday the 73rd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city on Aug. 9, 1945.
An annual memorial ceremony was held at Nagasaki Peace Park, attended by about 5,200 people including hibakusha atomic bomb survivors and bereaved families of victims. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres also attended the ceremony, making him the first U.N. secretary general to participate in an atomic bombing ceremony in Nagasaki.
In his annual Nagasaki Peace Declaration, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue touched on the summit talks held in June between the United States and North Korea, expressing his hopes for irreversible denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
Representatives of 71 countries attended the ceremony, including U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. At the ringing of a bell, participants observed a minute’s silence at 11:02 a.m., the exact time the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.
Terumi Tanaka, 86, cochairman of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), was chosen from among the public to read out the Pledge for Peace. Tanaka is from Niiza, Saitama Prefecture, and was the first hibakusha who resides outside Nagasaki Prefecture to read the pledge.
In his peace declaration, Taue strongly praised the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), as well as the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The mayor said those events last year were “proof that the majority of people on this Earth continue to seek the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons,” and urged for the treaty to go into effect as soon as possible.
Taue also requested the leaders of nuclear-armed nation, and of countries dependent on their nuclear umbrella, to shift to security policies not dependent on nuclear weapons. He directed his request at the Japanese government, which is negative about the TPNW, saying, “I hereby ask that the government of Japan, the only country to have suffered from the wartime use of nuclear weapons, support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and fulfill its moral obligation to lead the world toward denuclearization.”
Last summer, Nagasaki saw the death of two staunch champions of a world free of nuclear weapons: Nihon Hidankyo cochairman Sumiteru Taniguchi and former Nagasaki University President Hideo Tsuchiyama.
Taue said, “These two people harbored great worries that those who have never experienced war or atomic bombings might head down mistaken paths,” and emphasized the importance of passing on the pledge to renounce war to future generations.
Abe stressed in his remarks at the ceremony his intention to serve as a mediator between nuclear-armed and non-nuclear nations to abolish nuclear arms. He also announced that the government will hold the meeting of Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament this autumn in Nagasaki.
Four registry books listing 3,511 names of victims of the atomic bombing who died in the year through the end of July were enshrined at the annual ceremony. Affected people who were outside the government-designated bombsite were also listed for the first time, bringing the total number of registry books to 183 and the cumulative number of the dead to 179,226.
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