U.N. Secretary General reasserts intent to attend August 6 Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony: Would send a video message if visit impossible

by Hajime Niiyama, Staff Writer

On June 5, the Hiroshima City government revealed it had reconfirmed the intent of Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, to attend the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6. The city received communication that Mr. Guterres would send a video message if he were unable to make the visit due to the coronavirus pandemic. The city will send Mr. Guterres an official ceremony invitation by the middle of this month.

On February 4 this year, Mr. Guterres announced he would plan a visit to Hiroshima to coincide with the Peace Memorial Ceremony, held at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in the city’s Naka Ward. His visit to Japan was to take place as the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics was taking place on August 9. Although the Olympics has been postponed, he has continued to show willingness to visit Hiroshima.

According to the city, when it sent an inquiry to the Office of the Spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary General via e-mail, it received a reply indicating that Mr. Guterres would be pleased to attend should circumstances permit, and that he would send a video message if the visit were to prove impossible. The city shared its anticipation when it said, “Lifting of restrictions on entry to Japan from overseas nations would be a prerequisite for his attendance at the ceremony, and we truly hope he can send a message of peace live from here in the city of Hiroshima.”

On the same day, the city announced key guests for the ceremony. As usual, representatives of A-bombing victims’ families will be invited from each prefecture. The city will also invite national government officials, including Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and overseas ambassadors to Japan.

The number of attendee seats will be reduced to a maximum of 880, which is 10 percent of the number usually prepared for the ceremony, and all such seating will be reserved. Six A-bomb survivors’ groups will be asked to choose a ceremony participant from among their members. A city official in charge said that the proceedings and times for the ceremony will be nearly unchanged from previous years.

(Originally published on June 6, 2020)