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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 66, September 2002

News Review

57th Anniversary of Atomic Bombing of Japan

The 57th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was marked by urgent calls for nuclear disarmament from the mayors of both cities. In a 'Peace Declaration' delivered on August 6, Hiroshima mayor Tadatoshi Akiba characterised the US response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 as misguided and courting fresh nuclear disaster:

"Another hot, agonizing summer has arrived for our hibakusha who, fifty-seven years ago, experienced 'the end of the world,' and, consequently, have worked tirelessly to bring peace to this world because 'we cannot allow anyone else to go through that experience.' ... Since the terrorist attack against the American people on September 11 last year, the danger has become more striking. The path of reconciliation - severing chains of hatred, violence and retaliation - so long advocated by the survivors has been abandoned. Today, the prevailing philosophy seems to be 'I'll show you' and 'I'm stronger than you are.' In Afghanistan and the Middle East, in India and Pakistan, and wherever violent conflict erupts, the victims of this philosophy are overwhelmingly women, children, the elderly, and those least able to defend themselves. ...

The spirit of reconciliation is not concerned with judging the past. Rather, it open-mindedly accepts human error and works toward preventing such errors in the future. ... In the 'spiritual home for all people' that Hiroshima is building grows an abundant Forest of Memory, and the River of Reconciliation and Humanity flowing from that forest is plied by Reason, Conscience and Compassion, ships that ultimately sail to the Sea of Hope and the Future. I strongly urge President Bush to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to walk through that forest and ride that river. I beg him to encounter this human legacy and confirm with his own eyes what nuclear weapons hold in store for us all. The United States government has no right to force Pax Americana on the rest of us, or to

unilaterally determine the fate of the world. On the contrary, we, the people of the world, have the right to demand 'no annihilation without representation.'"

The mayor had equally strong words for his own government, following controversial remarks in late May by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda (see last issue) apparently advocating a revision of the non-nuclear principles enshrined in the Japanese constitution. According to Akiba:

"Article 99 of the Japanese Constitution stipulates that 'The Emperor or the Regent as well as Ministers of State, members of the Diet, judges, and all other public officials have the obligation to respect and uphold this Constitution.' The proper role of the Japanese government, under this provision, is to avoid making Japan a 'normal country' capable of making war 'like all the other nations.' The government is bound to reject nuclear weapons absolutely and to renounce war. Furthermore, the national government has a responsibility to convey the memories, voices, and prayers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki throughout the world, especially to the United States, and, for the sake of tomorrow's children, to prevent war."

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, attending the annual memorial services in both cities, was at pains to stress the country's continuing fidelity to the non-nuclear cause. In Hiroshima, Koizumi stated: "As the only country in history to have experienced atomic bombings, I would like to underline Japan's unwavering commitment to its war-renouncing constitution and its three principles: non-possession, non-production, and non-entry of nuclear weapons." In Nagasaki (August 9), the Prime Minister pledged that his government would "stand at the forefront of global efforts to oppose nuclear proliferation and promote the reduction of nuclear arms and the abolition of nuclear weapons."

In his Peace Declaration, Nagasaki's mayor Itcho Ito reflected with dismay on recent shifts in US nuclear policy, particularly Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and its continuing antipathy to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Warning that "Nagasaki must remain the final site of nuclear attack", Ito complained: "We are appalled by this series of unilateral actions taken by the government of the United States, actions which are also being condemned by people of sound judgment throughout the world."

Related material on Acronym website:

Reports: Hiroshima hits 'Pax Americana' at A-Bomb memorial, Reuters, August 6; Hiroshima remembers bombing victims, Associated Press, August 6; Hiroshima mayor criticizes US for self-interest as city marks 57th anniversary of atomic bomb attack, Associated Press, August 6; Peace Declaration, by Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima, August 6, Hiroshima Peace Site (http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp); Nagasaki holds bombing anniversary, Associated Press, August 9.

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© 2002 The Acronym Institute.