Hiroshima to study hibakusha

A-bomb day rings in impact-assessment plan

Kyodo

Hiroshima marked the 63rd anniversary of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing Wednesday, with the mayor inaugurating a study on the psychological impact on people still haunted by the event.

“This study should teach us the grave import of the truth, born of tragedy and suffering, that the only role for nuclear weapons is for them to be abolished,” Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said in a peace declaration read at a memorial service at Peace Memorial Park.

Akiba said the two-year study is aimed at creating a complete picture of the psychological damage caused by the bombing, which he said has not yet been revealed even after more than six decades because the effects on survivors have for years been underestimated.

He also expressed hope that “the president of the United States elected this November will listen conscientiously to the majority, for whom the priority is human survival,” noting that 170 countries voted in favor of Japan’s U.N. resolution last year calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

A moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima at an altitude of about 600 meters, killing an estimated 140,000 people instantly or in the following months and injuring tens of thousands of others.

Some 45,000 people gathered to attend this year’s ceremony in Hiroshima, including diplomats from 55 countries.

Attending the ceremony, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda pledged to firmly maintain Japan’s three avowed principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on its soil.

“I, today, here in Hiroshima, again pledge that our country will firmly maintain the three antinuclear principles and take the lead in international society to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons and lasting peace,” he said.

He also vowed to enhance support measures from health to welfare for atomic bomb survivors.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said in a message read by High Representative for Disarmament Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, “I join you in commemorating the past and affirm my determination to work with you and all people to achieve a peaceful and secure world without nuclear weapons.”

Among nuclear-power nations, China attended the ceremony for the first time, while Russia participated for the ninth consecutive year.

On the study of the atomic bomb’s psychological impact, the city has started conducting its first round of research on about 35,000 people, including atomic bomb survivors and those who have lived in Hiroshima since before the bombing and had relations with survivors, a city official said.

The study involves carrying out surveys and interviews, the official said.

Meanwhile, Akiba said Mayors for Peace, a group of cities pursuing a nuclear-free world by 2020, proposed a Hiroshima-Nagasaki protocol in April to supplement the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, calling for an immediate halt to all efforts to obtain or deploy nuclear weapons by nuclear-weapon states.

Among the 2,368 cities that were members of Mayors for Peace as of Aug. 1, London’s new mayor, Boris Johnson, has informed the group that London no longer intends to participate. Hiroshima is now consulting with the London mayor to persuade him to remain in the group, a city official said.

Akiba emphasized that citizens cooperating at the city level can solve man-made problems, noting that world citizens and like-minded countries have achieved treaties banning antipersonnel land mines and cluster bombs.

Japan’s Constitution is “an appropriate point of departure for a ‘paradigm shift’ toward modeling the world on intercity relationships from military and dominance relationships,” he said.

The charter’s preamble expresses the country’s determination “to preserve its security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world.”

Akiba said, “I hereby call on the Japanese government to fiercely defend our Constitution, press all governments to adopt the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, and play a leading role in the effort to abolish nuclear weapons.”

He also urged the government to expand support measures for aging hibakusha, including those living overseas.