Following is the full text of a speech by Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Friday at an annual ceremony commemorating the atomic bombing of the city of Hiroshima by the United States on Aug. 6, 1945:

Here today, on the occasion of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, I reverently pay sincere tribute to the souls of the atomic bomb victims. Furthermore, I express my heartfelt sympathy to those suffering from the aftereffects of the atomic bombs.

The horror caused by nuclear weapons should never be repeated. I firmly believe that Japan, as the only country to have experienced nuclear devastation in war, has a moral responsibility to lead in actions toward realizing “a world without nuclear weapons.” I will take advantage of various opportunities to appeal for the importance of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation to world leaders, including the leaders of nuclear weapon states. Moreover, I pledge that Japan will observe its Constitution and firmly maintain the Three Nonnuclear Principles for the sake of the elimination of nuclear weapons and the realization of eternal world peace. Movement toward nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation has gained new momentum since the President of the United States of America Barack Obama delivered his speech on nuclear weapons in Prague in April 2009.

Against this backdrop, today’s Peace Memorial Ceremony is being attended by the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, as well as representatives of more than 70 nations, including Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Japan John V. Roos. I would like to express my heartfelt welcome to all the participants. I pray that the earnest desire of the people of Japan to never again see any harm caused by nuclear weapons will reach the hearts of everyone around the world.

More than 4,000 cities in the world have joined the Mayors of Peace, a nongovernmental organization headed by Hiroshima and Nagasaki that advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons. Activities led by NGOs like this one and civilian groups play a significant role in accelerating the movement for global nuclear disarmament.

During the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons held in May 2010, nearly 100 atomic bomb victims went to New York to call attention to the horror of nuclear weapons at the venue and in the streets. Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba also made a valuable contribution on the spot. The efforts of these people — the atomic bomb victims as well as the NGOs and citizens that support them — were directly behind the achievement of the conference, the adoption of its final document.

Going forward, I would like to have the atomic bomb victims represent Japan as, for example, Special Ambassadors for Denuclearization who will spread the message about the horror and inhumanity of the use of nuclear weapons and the value of world peace at various international arenas.

The government of Japan, for its part, is resolved to proactively propose forward-looking, concrete steps for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, and to contribute to consensus building in the international community.

For those suffering from the consequences of the bombs, the government has been providing comprehensive support measures covering the areas of health and medical care, as well as welfare. With regard to the Collective Lawsuit for the Recognition of Atomic-bomb Diseases, which has continued on for many years, a confirmation note was exchanged in August 2009 to conclude the case. Based on this note, the government has withdrawn the appeal and established a fund to aid victims.

Meanwhile, for those waiting to be recognized as sufferers of atomic bomb diseases, the government will do its best to grant recognition at the earliest date possible. Furthermore, we will advance deliberations on revising the system to recognize atomic bomb diseases through changes to the law.

Moreover, the government will reinforce the support structure for those who were exposed to the atomic bombs in the womb and their family members, based on their requests.

I would like to conclude my address by offering my heartfelt prayers for the repose of the souls of the atomic bomb victims and my best wishes for the future to the atomic bomb survivors and the bereaved families, and for the well-being of all participants today and the people of Hiroshima city.

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