• Kyodo

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A former mayor of Hiroshima has launched an online petition calling for a moment of silence to be observed during the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 6 at the time the atomic bomb was dropped on his city in 1945.

Tadatoshi Akiba, 78, launched the Change.org campaign on the day that International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach visited Hiroshima on July 16, amid opposition from some A-bomb survivors who called his trip politically motivated.

“He should have no objections to how important it is to spread the message of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the world,” Akiba said, noting that Bach came to Hiroshima in spite of the coronavirus pandemic and opposition from many people.

The petition proposes that athletes and people from around the globe observe a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6 to remember not only those who perished in the atomic bombings of the two cities, but all victims of war.

The moment of silence would also express a commitment to making world peace a reality through the abolition of nuclear weapons.

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Games will finish one day before Aug. 9, the day the atomic bomb fell on Nagasaki.

Akiba, who advocated for nuclear weapons to be abolished by 2020 at the Mayors for Peace, an organization he headed during his time as mayor, announced in 2009 his intention to jointly bid for this year’s Summer Olympics with Nagasaki to make it an event for that cause.

He continued to pursue the bid, including the possibility of Hiroshima hosting the Olympics alone, until he stepped down in 2011.

“If we don’t take action on Aug. 6, which falls during the Games, we don’t have the right to tout (the Olympics) as a festival of peace. A silent prayer is the least we can do,” Akiba said in an interview.

The last time Tokyo hosted the Olympics in 1964, Yoshinori Sakai, who was born in Hiroshima Prefecture the day the atomic bomb was dropped, served as the final runner of the torch relay.

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