Preparations Afoot to Commemorate Hiroshima Atom Bombing


Nuclear Abolition News | IDN
By Taro Ichikawa
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TOKYO (IDN) - Nuclear abolition is not yet around the corner. But the United States, Britain and France have apparently come round to the view that the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is an appropriate opportunity to underline a paradigm shift under way. [P]  JAPANESE

Reliable reports say that senior officials of the three nuclear powers will for the first time attend the annual ceremony in Hiroshima on Aug. 6 to commemorate the atomic bombing of the city in 1945.

Also UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to pay visits to memorials dedicated to Korean atomic bomb victims in two Japanese cities. He will visit the memorial for Korean atomic bomb victims in Nagasaki on August 5 and another memorial in Hiroshima the following day.

Ban is set to attend Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony and visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on August 6. He will be the first UN chief to do so.

"These moves are encouraging and we welcome the representatives' decisions," writes the Mainichi Daily News in its online edition on July 30, reflecting the widespread feeling in Japan.

In the past the United States, Britain and France, which despite being on good terms with Japan, refrained from participating in ceremonies to commemorate the atomic bombings on account of their position as Allies during World War II.

Attitudes including the stance that dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the war forced Japan to surrender and "saved 1 million lives" remain deeply rooted within the U.S. government.

There is also anger in U.S. society over the attack on Pearl Harbour, which is described as "dirty". Furthermore, as nuclear powers, the three countries differ from Japan in their stance on nuclear weapons, states the Mainichi Daily News.

However, the speech in April 2009 in Prague in which President Barack Obama referred to a world without nuclear weapons turned the tide. Obama stated that the U.S., as the only nuclear power to have used an atomic weapon, had a "moral responsibility" to act.

His speech turned people's eyes toward an ultimate goal for the future, and, in particular, eased emotional discord between Japan and the United States. This probably paved the way for the U.S., Britain and France to participate in the ceremony, the newspaper states.

An early step was seen from John Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, in October 2009, when he placed flowers at a memorial to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, writes the Mainichi Daily News.

This year's landmark August 6 ceremony has been preceded by the 'Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020', held in Hiroshima from July 27 to 29.

The three-day conference was organized by 'Mayors for Peace' -- which unites more than 4,000 mayors and other city officials with the common goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world -- and includes representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), cities and national governments, as well as concerned citizens.

In a message to the participants, Ban Ki-moon called for further progress on the global disarmament agenda, stressing that getting rid of nuclear weapons is the best way to ensure security for all. "Let us be clear: the only guarantee of safety, and the only sure protection against the use of such weapons, is their elimination,” he said.

"Nuclear disarmament is often dismissed as a dream, when the real fantasies are the claims that nuclear weapons guarantee security or increase a country's status and prestige," he noted.

"The more often countries make such claims, the more likely it will be that others will adopt the same approach. The result will be insecurity for all."

Ban noted that the timeline in the 2020 Vision Campaign initiated by the Mayors for Peace to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons is particularly important.

He also voiced deep admiration for the survivors of the atomic bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who are known as hibakusha, and their determination to tell the world about their experience of the horrors of nuclear weapons.

The Secretary-General urged all leaders, especially those of nuclear-weapon States, to visit both cities -- which were reduced to rubble in the August 1945 attacks that also claimed hundreds of thousands of lives -- to see first-hand the impact of nuclear weapons.


He recalled his own five-point plan, which was first put forward in October 2008 and offers a practical approach to eliminating nuclear weapons. It begins with a call for the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament, either through a new convention or through a series of mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a credible system of verification.

The plan also urges the Security Council to consider other ways to strengthen security in the disarmament process; measures to strengthen rule of law, accountability and transparency; and progress in eliminating other weapons of mass destruction and limiting missiles, space weapons and conventional arms -- all of which are needed for a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The Hiroshima Conference organised by the Mayors for Peace supports the UN Secretary-General's five-point plan, and calls upon all governments to immediately start negotiations toward the conclusion of an international treaty banning nuclear weapons in time to eliminate those weapons by 2020.

"To this end, governments that have expressed their desire for a comprehensive legal process, in partnership with like-minded NGOs, should convene a special disarmament conference in 2011 to facilitate the start of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention," the Conference appeals.


The Mayors demand that all countries promptly cease all activities related to the development, testing, production, modernization, deployment, and use of nuclear weapons and allied infrastructure.

"In this regard, we demand that countries redouble their efforts to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force urgently and without conditions. Special responsibility lies with the nine remaining countries which must sign and ratify the Treaty for it to come into force."

Effort must also go toward bringing the Protocols to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zones treaties into force, responsibility for which lies with the nuclear-weapon states, the Mayors say. They call on governments to drastically reduce nuclear weapon and related military spending and to redirect those funds to meet human needs and restore the environment.

"We commend the U.S. Conference of Mayors for calling on the U.S. Congress to 'terminate funding for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex and nuclear weapon systems, to reduce spending on nuclear weapons programs well below Cold War levels, and to redirect funds to meet the urgent needs of cities'. To this end, local and national governments and private citizens could consider divesting funds from entities that support or benefit from nuclear weapons."

The Hiroshima conference demands that governments that are party to nuclear sharing agreements or that hide under nuclear umbrellas reject nuclear weapons as part of their military and security doctrines, concepts and policies.

The Mayors demand that governments uphold their non-proliferation commitments under the NPT by ensuring that their nuclear related exports do not directly or indirectly assist the development of nuclear weapons.

They call on the Japanese government, which has declared that as the only A-bombed country, it will lead the way to a nuclear-weapon-free world, to take proactive measures to this end.

"For example, it could invite heads of state, especially of the nuclear-armed states, to a conference in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, where governments and NGOs will confront the future nuclear weapons hold in store for humankind, recognize the urgent need to eliminate these weapons, and work together toward a nuclear weapons convention."

The Conference also calls on national governments and the UN to implement broad programmes of nuclear disarmament education as stipulated in the NPT Review Conference final document.

"In doing so, we urge them to communicate fully the facts about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the message of the hibakusha, with the goal of promoting critical thinking, developing leadership and fostering in young people the determination to abolish nuclear weapons."

This education also needs to take place at the local level, in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities, says the conference. It also urges the need to "develop innovative methods of communicating information about nuclear weapons to new generations". (IDN-InDepthNews/30.07.2010)

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