HIROSHIMA--The Hiroshima mayor called for greater efforts by the Japanese government to strengthen partnerships with nations that are demanding the abolition of nuclear weapons, at the annual ceremony here to mark the dropping of the atomic bomb.
The ceremony was held at the Peace Memorial Park on Aug. 6 to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the first dropping of the atomic bomb.
In reading his Peace Declaration, Mayor Kazumi Matsui raised concerns about ongoing negotiations with India on a nuclear technology agreement. India is not a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Among the participants in the ceremony were the ambassadors from nuclear powers including the United States, Britain and Pakistan. Tamotsu Baba, the mayor of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, a town designated as a no-entry zone in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, also attended the ceremony.
At 8 a.m., Matsui and two representatives of bereaved family members placed in the memorial cenotaph a roster that includes the names of all atomic bomb survivors, or hibakusha, whose deaths were confirmed over the past year until Aug. 5.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and representatives of other nations placed wreaths at the cenotaph that honors the victims of the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing.
The Peace Bell was rung at 8:15 a.m. to mark the moment the bomb was dropped, and a moment of silence was observed.
Matsui began his Peace Declaration with accounts of lifelong suffering and agony from hibakusha and declared the atomic bomb to be “absolute evil.”
He also pointed to the April meeting in Geneva of the Preparatory Committee for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, where 80 nations signed a joint statement that describes nuclear weapons as inhumane.
Matsui said the statement shows “a growing group of countries is focusing on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and calling for abolition.”
He called on the government to strengthen partnerships with such nations. Japan did not sign the statement on the grounds it would contradict its policy of reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for national security purposes.
Matsui also referred to a speech given by U.S. President Barack Obama in Berlin in June in which he referred to further reductions in the number of nuclear weapons possessed. The mayor praised the Obama speech as a declaration of his resolve to work toward nuclear disarmament.
At the same time, he was critical of negotiations between Japan and India on a nuclear technology agreement, saying, “it is likely to hinder nuclear weapons abolition.” The mayor called on the government to play a leading role in strengthening and maintaining the NPT structure.
Matsui was followed by two elementary school students who read a pledge for peace on behalf of all children. The prime minister also delivered a speech.
As of the end of March, 201,779 people in Japan were registered as hibakusha. Their average age was 78.8.
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