President of the U.N. General Assembly offers flowers at Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims

by Takamasa Kyoren

On October 28, Joseph Deiss, 64, former president of Switzerland and now president of the U.N. General Assembly, visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and offered a wreath of flowers at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims. After listening to the A-bomb accounts of two A-bomb survivors, who have been commissioned by the Japanese government to serve as "Special Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons," Mr. Deiss spoke in a determined tone, saying that the United Nations must strengthen its efforts to advance the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Deiss met with Shizuko Abe, 83, a resident of Hiroshima, and Koichi Wada, 83, a resident of Nagasaki, at the International Conference Center Hiroshima in Peace Memorial Park. Ms. Abe related how she has had to undergo as many as 18 operations to treat her keloid scars, a consequence of the Hiroshima blast. Meanwhile, Mr. Wada shared how his friends perished in the bombing of Nagasaki. Mr. Deiss paid tribute to the two survivors, praising their efforts to continue communicating their A-bomb experiences, despite the horror of those experiences, and stressing that their accounts convey a strong message for peace.

In Peace Memorial Park, Mr. Deiss visited the Monument in Memory of Dr. Marcel Junod, a Swiss doctor who brought in medical supplies to Hiroshima in the aftermath of the atomic bombing, and toured Peace Memorial Museum. He remarked that if world leaders would listen directly to accounts of the atomic bombings from A-bomb survivors, this would motivate them to seek a peaceful world.

Mr. Deiss arrived in Japan on October 26 at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. He attended the Aichi-Nagoya tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBO) held in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. Having made a request to visit Hiroshima, he has become the third president of the U.N. General Assembly to come to the city.

(Originally published on October 29, 2010)

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