Mainichi - daily paper from Japan | 06.08.2003 14:55 | Anti-militarism
Hiroshima mayor says world moving to war on A-bomb anniversary
HIROSHIMA -- Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba warned that the world is moving toward war and accused Washington of "worshipping" nuclear weapons during Wednesday's ceremony marking the 58th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city.
An elderly woman breaks down in tears Wednesday at the monument to A-bomb victims in Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park.
Some 40,000 people, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Nagasaki Mayor Iccho Ito and British Labour MP George Galloway, attended the ceremony at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park and observed a minute of silence from 8:15 a.m., the time a U.S. atomic bomb devastated the city on Aug. 6, 1945.
In his peace declaration, the Hiroshima mayor blamed the United States for making the world a more uncertain place through its policy of undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
"A world without nuclear weapons and war that the victims of the atomic bomb have long sought for is slipping into the shadows of growing black clouds that could turn into mushroom clouds at any moment," Akiba said. "The chief cause of this is the United States' nuclear policy which, by openly declaring the possibility of a pre-emptive nuclear strike and by starting research into small 'useable' nuclear weapons, appears to worship nuclear weapons as God."
He also criticized the growing sentiment in Japan and elsewhere that war is acceptable.
"Nuclear weapons are not the only problem. Some people are acting as if the United Nations Charter and the (pacifist) Constitution don't even exist and they are gaining support for this stance. The world has suddenly veered sharply away from post-war thinking toward a pre-war mentality," Akiba warned.
The peace declaration also attacked the recent Iraq war, saying that the U.S.-led war ignored people's wishes demanding a peaceful solution and "slaughtered" innocent women, children, and the elderly while spreading radioactive contamination through the use of depleted uranium ammunition.
Emphasizing the Hiroshima A-bomb victims' belief that peace can only be achieved through reconciliation and not retaliation, Akiba invited the leaders of the nuclear powers, including U.S. President George W. Bush and Kim Jong Il of North Korea, to visit the city and to "confront the reality" of nuclear war.
Akiba was also critical of the Japanese government, which has refused to provide support for the majority of non-Japanese A-bomb victims.
"The Japanese government must fulfill its responsibilities. It must adopt three new non-nuclear principles -- allow no production, allow no possession, and allow no use of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world -- and work hard to make Asia a nuclear-free zone. It must also provide full support to all A-bomb victims everywhere, including those exposed in areas where 'black (radiated) rain' fell and those who now live overseas."
Prime Minister Koizumi spoke after Akiba and his reaction to the mayor's challenge was to reiterate the government's position that it will lead international efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.
"As the only nation in human history to experience the horrible effects of atomic bombing, we have adhered to the pacifist Constitution and have observed three non-nuclear principles (of not producing, not possessing and not allowing other countries to bring nuclear weapons to Japan)," Koizumi said. "The government is aware that A-bomb victims are growing older and is determined to introduce policies to support them."
After the ceremony, for the second year running Koizumi left Hiroshima without attending a meeting of atomic bomb victims or without visiting facilities treating elderly A-bomb victims. He is the only post-war prime minister who has refused to do so.
During the ceremony, the names of 5,050 people who died in the past 12 months were added to the list of atomic bomb victims. The number of people killed directly by the Hiroshima atomic bomb and those who died after exposure to radiation has now reached 231,920. (Mainichi Shimbun, Aug. 6, 2003)
Mainichi - daily paper from Japan