A record 55 nations to be represented at this year’s Peace Memorial Ceremony

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

On July 23, the city of Hiroshima issued a briefing on the Peace Memorial Ceremony to be held in Peace Memorial Park on August 6. The governments of 55 nations, including China and Russia, have indicated that they will send representatives to the event, surpassing last year’s record of 42 nations.

The city sent invitations to 144 nations, including the nuclear weapons states. China, a nuclear weapons state, will be represented for the first time, through an official from the Chinese Consulate in Osaka. Russia, another nuclear weapons state, will be represented for the ninth consecutive year through a delegate from the Russian Embassy in Tokyo. Representing the United Nations and delivering a message from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be High Representative for Disarmament Sergio de Queiroz Duarte.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan is said to be considering his own attendance at the memorial event, the first to be held since he took office.

The ceremony will start at 8:00 and end at 8:45. The register with the names of newly-recognized A-bomb victims will be dedicated to the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims. At 8:15, the time the atomic bomb was dropped, the Peace Bell will ring. Striking the bell on behalf of the bereaved families will be Hatsukaichi City employee Kazumi Nishi, 47 years old, of Nishi Ward, Hiroshima; and on behalf of children, Momoko Kuranishi, 11 years old, a resident of Asaminami Ward and a 6th grader at Kawauchi Elementary School.

Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba will then read the Peace Declaration. Sota Hondo (12 years old, a resident of Naka Ward and a 6th grader at Yoshijima Higashi Elementary School) and Honoka Imai (11 years old, a resident of Nishi Ward and a 6th grader at Nobori-cho Elementary School) will read the Commitment to Peace.

Ms. Imai attends the same school as Sadako Sasaki, the inspiration for the Children’s Peace Monument, which has stood in the park for exactly half a century. “Sadako-san taught me about the horror of nuclear weapons,” she said. “I want to communicate to the world the hope for peace held by the children of Hiroshima.”

(Originally published on July 24, 2008)

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