Hiroshima, Nagasaki mayors to urge government to act on nuke ban treaty

Kyodo

The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will call on the government to help realize a treaty banning nuclear weapons at upcoming anniversaries marking the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings in their cities.

This year’s declarations follow the adoption in New York last month by 122 U.N. members of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As a country under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, Japan did not participate, nor did any of the nuclear weapon states.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui announced an outline of his declaration at a news conference on Tuesday, to be read out at a commemoration ceremony on the anniversary of the bombing on Aug. 6.

According to the outline, he will stress that the “hell” Hiroshima saw 72 years ago is not a thing of the past, saying, “As long as nuclear weapons exist and policymakers threaten their use, their horror could leap into our present at any moment.”

Matsui will describe the use of nuclear weapons as an act unforgivable by humankind, and the possession of them as “nothing more than spending enormous sums of money to endanger all humanity.”

The world’s first atomic bomb exploded over the city at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, killing an estimated 140,000 people by the end of that year.

Representatives from a total of 82 countries and the European Union were scheduled to attend the city’s ceremony as of July 10.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue is to read his declaration at the city’s ceremony three days later on Aug. 9. In Nagasaki, an estimated 74,000 people died from the bombing by the end of 1945.

“Action by civil society will be crucial in making the nuclear prohibition treaty an international norm,” Taue said at a news conference on Monday announcing the outline of his declaration. “I would like to call for coordination.”

Taue said he will call on the government to change its mind and join the treaty, while Matsui will urge the government to “manifest the pacifism in our Constitution” by “doing everything in its power to bridge the gap between the nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states.”

Taue will also ask the government to show the world the philosophy of peace enshrined in the Constitution.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party is seeking to formally propose an amendment to the foundational document, which has stood unchanged since it came into force in 1947.

Abe has suggested an amendment should retain the parts of the Constitution under which the nation forever renounces war, but add a clause making clear the status of the Self-Defense Forces.

Both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki declarations were drafted after meetings in recent months with hibakusha and experts.