Hiroshima 66 years later:Renewed calls to heed victims' accounts, create nuke-free world

August 06, 2011

By RYUTA KURATOMI / Staff Writer

HIROSHIMA--Hiroshima marked the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city with a plea for world peace and an urgent call for Japan to review its energy policies.

In a ceremony held Saturday at Peace Memorial Park in the city's Naka Ward, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who assumed the post in April this year, read the Peace Declaration.

The declaration for the first time included the experiences of two atomic-bomb survivors, or hibakusha, who were selected from among applicants.

Their stories described how the atomic bombing destroyed people's lives that had been relatively normal despite the war.

The declaration also asked the central government to review its energy policies, saying the threat of radiation caused by the accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has heightened anxiety among the public.

Representatives of 66 countries and the European Union took part in the ceremony.

Matsui and two representatives from the bereaved families added the names of 5,785 hibakusha who died over the past year to the cenotaph that honors victims of the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan and representatives of other countries offered flowers to the cenotaph.

The Peace Bell was rung at 8:15 a.m., the time when the bomb was dropped, and a moment of silence was observed.

The declaration also described the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake as "so destructive that it revived images of Hiroshima 66 years ago."

It expressed support for the recovery efforts in the disaster areas.

The declaration described two stances in relation to the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

One was the complete abolition of nuclear power while the other was extremely strict control of nuclear power and increased use of renewable energies.

After the Peace Declaration was read, Nanoka Fujita and Masahiro Fukuhara, both 11, read a pledge for peace on behalf of children. Fujita and Fukuhara are sixth-graders at Koi and Misasa elementary schools in the city, respectively.

In the final stage of the ceremony, Kan and others delivered speeches.

As of the end of March this year, 219,410 people had "hibakusha kenko techo," pocketbooks that prove they are hibakusha.

The figure was a decrease of 8,155 from the same time last year. Their average age was 77.44 years old, up 0.71 from the previous year.

By RYUTA KURATOMI / Staff Writer
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Visitors to the Hiroshima Peace Memroial park observe a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, the exact moment that the atomic bomb struck the city in 1945. In the background is the Atomic Bomb Dome. (Takaharu Yagi)

Visitors to the Hiroshima Peace Memroial park observe a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, the exact moment that the atomic bomb struck the city in 1945. In the background is the Atomic Bomb Dome. (Takaharu Yagi)

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  • Visitors to the Hiroshima Peace Memroial park observe a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, the exact moment that the atomic bomb struck the city in 1945. In the background is the Atomic Bomb Dome. (Takaharu Yagi)
  • People put their hands together to pray before the cenotaph honoring victims killed in the 1945 atomic bombing on Hiroshima in the city's Peace Memorial Park on Aug. 6. (Takaharu Yagi)
  • Young children are among a long line of people gathered before dawn to mourn for A-bomb victims in Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on Aug. 6. (Yuki Nakazato)
  • A Japanese letter meaning life is projected on the surface of the Motoyasugawa river along the A-bomb Dome in Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on the night of Aug. 5. (Takaharu Yagi)

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