National

70% of Hiroshima residents want 'noisy' protests restricted during A-bomb ceremony

Kyodo

Nearly 70 percent of Hiroshima citizens who have attended or seen on TV annual ceremonies to mark the wartime U.S. atomic bombing of the city said shouts by demonstrators from just outside the venue should be restricted by an ordinance, a survey showed Monday.

About 60 percent of the 1,090 local residents who have attended or watched the events to commemorate the 1945 bombing on Aug. 6 over the past five years said they thought demonstrators’ shouts using loudspeakers were “noisy,” according to the survey conducted by the Hiroshima Municipal Government on 3,000 citizens.

Since early in the morning on the anniversary day, many anti-war civic groups yell slogans such as those calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons and criticizing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for being negative toward nuclear disarmament.

Demonstrators have reacted against potential restrictions on their activities, saying it would be “suppression of speech.”

In the survey, some 14 percent said the city should not go so far as to regulate them but should “only request” that they turn down the volume and relocate while the ceremony is held — steps already taken before to no avail. The outcome of the questionnaire, sent late last year to randomly selected citizens, was released after Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said last Tuesday he would consider drafting an ordinance to deal with the issue in the runup to next year’s 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing. The city said rally organizers have ignored its demand to turn down the volume and move to another location for the past seven years.

Of the 3,000 responses, 41 percent were valid. About 7 percent of those who issued the valid responses were atomic bomb survivors, and around 36 percent were family members of bombing victims.

In a separate survey of the city covering five atomic bomb survivor groups in Hiroshima Prefecture, one group said there is a need to establish an ordinance with restrictions, three said it should only make requests and one objected to the envisioned ordinance. Matsui plans to conduct another survey targeting attendees at this summer’s ceremony regarding the volume of loudspeakers, as well as to measure the noise level at the venue.

Every year the ceremony starts at 8 a.m. at the Peace Memorial Park. Participants observe a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m., when the “Little Boy” uranium-core atomic bomb dropped by a U.S. bomber exploded above Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. It killed an estimated 140,000 people by the end of that year, according to the city office.