Ban, Okada confirm effort to eradicate nukes

by Masami Ito

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon confirmed Tuesday with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada that Japan and the world body will aim for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Ban arrived in Tokyo in the afternoon and will visit Nagasaki on Thursday and Hiroshima on Friday, which marks the 65th anniversary of that city’s atomic bombing. He will be the first U.N. secretary general to attend the annual commemorative service at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

“I will visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima to send a very important and strong message to the world that the nuclear threat is real and we must do everything we can to build on the current global momentum toward a nuclear weapon-free world,” Ban told a news conference. “We cannot find any more appropriate location than Hiroshima and Nagasaki to send out such a strong message.”

Following Ban’s decision to visit the two cities, the United States announced last week that its ambassador to Japan, John Roos, will also attend the Hiroshima ceremony, marking the first time that a U.S. government representative will be sent to the event. His attendance is considered a reflection of President Barack Obama’s vision of a nuclear-free world.

Since Obama pushed for “a world without nuclear weapons” in a speech in Prague in April 2009, the nuclear disarmament movement has taken on new momentum, especially in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only two cities to ever suffer a nuclear attack.

On Tuesday, Okada briefed Ban on his intention to hold a gathering of foreign ministers to discuss nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation in September, when the U.N. General Assembly will meet.

Ban and Okada also agreed to enhance cooperation on dealing with North Korea’s nuclear programs, biodiversity, climate change, peacekeeping operations and conflict resolution.

During his visit, Ban will meet with Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the presidents of both Diet chambers, business leaders, survivors of the atomic bombings, and college and high school students.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Ban’s interaction with various Japanese people is expected to be a good opportunity to seek public understanding and cooperation on many global issues.

Aussie TV message

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) A television commercial featuring atomic bomb survivors at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park appealing for the abolition of nuclear weapons will be broadcast in Australia on Friday, the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing.

The 60-second commercial was produced by the Australia-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

It shows about 30 students calling on nuclear armed states to abolish the weapons before focusing on two atomic bomb survivors making their pleas in English for a nuclear-free world.