Hiroshima mayor skeptical of Abe atomic arms vow


At the ceremony Tuesday marking the 68th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to do whatever he can to achieve a world without nuclear arms and to offer better support to atomic-bomb survivors fighting radiation-caused health problems.

Abe also said in his speech in Peace Memorial Park near ground zero that Japan will maintain its three nonnuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing the entry of nuclear weapons onto its territory.

“We Japanese are the only people to have experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in war,” he said in front of an estimated 50,000 people at the annual event. “We bear a responsibility to bring about a world without nuclear weapons without fail.”

Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which won big in last month’s Upper House election, wants to restart nuclear power plants, sell Japanese nuclear technology abroad and change the pacifist Constitution.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui voiced worry over the administration’s drive to seek civil nuclear cooperation deal with nuclear-armed India, saying even if such a deal “promotes their economic relationship, it is likely to hinder nuclear weapons abolition.”

Calling atomic bombs “the ultimate inhumane weapon and an absolute evil,” Matsui urged the central government to strengthen its ties with nations pursuing the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Matsui made the remark after Japan recently declined to back a statement urging that nuclear weapons never again be used under any circumstances. The statement was prepared in April at a preparatory committee session in Geneva for the next Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review meeting.

Anti-nuclear groups and other peace campaigners have criticized the government stance, which stems from Japan’s reliance on the deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Matsui stopped short of clarifying the city’s stance on the appropriateness of nuclear power as an energy source and on amending the Constitution.

He only said that “Hiroshima is a place that embodies the grand pacifism of the Japanese Constitution,” and “we urge the central government to rapidly develop and implement a responsible energy policy that places priority on safety and the livelihoods of the people.”

Nearly all of Japan’s 50 commercial reactors remain offline because of the Fukushima crisis that began in March 2011.

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. A second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9 that year, and Japan surrendered six days later.

Tuesday’s ceremony was attended by representatives of about 70 countries, including U.S. Ambassador John Roos as well as Vuk Jeremic, president of the U.N. General Assembly.

Other participants included Tamotsu Baba, mayor of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, Oscar-winning U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone, who made a documentary series examining why the bombs were dropped, and representatives of nuclear powers Britain, France and Russia. China was not represented for a fifth straight year.

Abe, who attended the annual ceremony in 2007 during his first stint as prime minister, said Japan bears responsibility to keep conveying the cruelty of atomic weapons to future generations and beyond the country’s borders.

A message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was read out by his proxy, saying, “Together, let us reaffirm our commitment to create a world free of nuclear weapons.”

Among those who took part from Fukushima Prefecture, Maki Nitto, 30, said that while she had learned about the bombing at school, until the Fukushima disaster led to her evacuation she had “never thought it had anything to do with me.”

“Although nuclear power plants and nuclear bombs are different, both . . . issues have the same roots,” said Nitto.

  • the

    well as far as i’m concerned, kazumi matsui is damn right.

  • ff

    I pray to god that another nuclear weapon never has to be used. I really, really do. Because back then it was just two cities (not to make the bombings sound less of what they really are), but now it could be 200 cities, or 2,000 cities. I agree with President Obama on getting rid of nuclear weapons. They are an effective deterrent, but they are very deadly.

  • Sam Gilman

    It is highly inappropriate that this article abuses the memory of the bomb victims to pursue a modern day political agenda. The mayor of Hiroshima stayed silent this day on energy policy for good reasons: decency and taste.

  • Max Erimo

    One could also argue that Japan need never fear nuclear weapons from abroad again, as it builds its nuclear power plants on active faults in a very geologically unstable country. Just like keeping a nuke in your back yard.
    No doubt that Mr. Abe is not serious. He is pushing unsafe nuclear power. Look at Fukushima.

  • Mike Wyckoff

    Abe is just a walking hypocrisy. Nukes, or no nukes! Make up your mind!

  • vasu

    Is there any point of the Japanese only lamenting over the horror of nuclear war when the main culprit US seems unaffected and nonchalant what they did to the noncombatant civilians not once but twice in short space of time as if they were on practicing spree .

    • ff

      The alternative was the death of hundreds of thousands or more, so are you saying that we should’ve invaded instead of dropping the a-bombs?

      The use of the two weapons saved more lives than they took. Quickest means to the end. What difference is there between a bullet, shrapnel, or a nuke? More died in Tokyo and Dresden than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki but there isn’t the stigma attached. Why? Dead is Dead.

      Is killing thousands of civilians, mostly women and children necessary? Is that what you are asking? If so, you’re forgetting about the numbers lost to incendiary attacks from March 1945 to July 1945…..

      While it’s easy to focus on the two nuclear attacks, the majority of the other Japanese cities were oblitereted during the summer of 1945 with far more deaths than Hiroshima & Nagasaki combined.

      Fewer people died from the nuclear attacks than who died in the incendiary attacks on Tokyo and other Japanese cities…. In a period of ten days starting March 9, a total of 1,595 sorties delivered 9,373 tons of bombs against Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe destroying 31 square miles of those cities most people think the most destuctive air raid in history was the Atomic Bomb. NOT SO. The Japanese empire was almost totally destroyed by summer 1945.

      On March 9-10, 1945, an air raid on Tokyo killed an estimated 100,000 people in a single night of fire.

      U.S. warplanes shower the sky with rivulets of fire, and thousands of corpses — many of them women and children — clot Tokyo’s main river. Flaming victims plummet in agony from a burning bridge.

      At this stage in the war, civilians on both sides were feeling the effect of total war…indiscriminate carpet bombing, V1/V2 attacks, and yes, the nuclear attacks.

      While you may think we lost the moral high ground by being the first to use nukes and now are against nukes among rogue states, i think the consequences of allowing them to become nuclear would be ranked up there with the Bolshevik Revolution or the coming of power by Hitler.