First visit to Hiroshima by a Prime Minister from Australia

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, 50, who called for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq during his campaign for office and assumed his role in December 2007, visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on June 9. “We must ensure that the 21st century, said to be the century of the Asia-Pacific region, will be a century of peace,” stressed Mr. Rudd.

Escorted by Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, the Prime Minister offered a wreath at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims. Inside the museum, he asked Museum Director Koichiro Maeda several questions about the destructive power of the atomic bomb and the damage suffered by people on the ground. He also looked closely at a panoramic model of Hiroshima after the bombing as well as photographs which depict the horrific aftermath.

In the museum guestbook, Prime Minister Rudd wrote, “Let the world resolve afresh from the ashes of this city--to work together for the common mission of peace for this Asian Pacific century, and for a world where one day nuclear weapons are no more.”

Making a campaign pledge to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, he achieved a change of administration in Australia for the first time in 11 years. He flew to Japan on June 8 to attend a Japan-Australia summit meeting to be held on June 12. Mr. Rudd is the first Australian Prime Minister to visit Hiroshima and the visit was arranged at his request.

(Originally published in the Chugoku Shimbun on June 10, 2008)