Hiroshima Mayor delivers Peace Declaration on 64th A-bomb anniversary

by Noritaka Egusa, Editor/Senior Staff Writer

On August 6, 2009, 64 years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, dawn has arrived to remember the victims and to pray for peace. The City of Hiroshima is now holding the Peace Memorial Ceremony at Peace Memorial Park, an event that began at 8:00 a.m. Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, in delivering the Peace Declaration, has called on the citizens of the world to act for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

At the start of the ceremony, Mayor Akiba and the representatives of bereaved families placed the register of those who died due to the bombing in the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims. The names of the atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha) who have passed away or whose deaths were confirmed since August 6 of last year were newly added.

Following the dedication of flowers by citizen representatives and others, the ceremony participants offered a minute of silent prayer at 8:15 a.m., the moment the atomic bomb exploded. With the Peace Bell tolling, they offered condolences to those who lost their lives in the bombing and reflected on that time 64 years ago when the entire city was instantly devastated.

In this year’s Peace Declaration, Mayor Akiba quoted U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech in Prague, in which Mr. Obama said, “…as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.” Mayor Akiba concluded the declaration by stating in English, “Together, we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can.”

Prime Minister Taro Aso and Hiroshima Governor Yuzan Fujita are among the large crowd of people attending the ceremony. Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, the former prime minister of Malaysia, and Mr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the U.N. General Assembly president, also offered wreaths of flowers at the Cenotaph.

Many other memorial services, both before and after the Peace Memorial Ceremony are taking place on this day. The services are organized by various groups, such as communities of the Peace Memorial Park area, workplaces, and schools. Throughout the day, a number of gatherings are also being held in the city to share A-bomb experiences and renew pledges to convey these experiences to future generations.

                                      PEACE DECLARATION

August 6, 2009

That weapon of human extinction, the atomic bomb, was dropped on the people of Hiroshima sixty-four years ago. Yet the hibakusha’s suffering, a hell no words can convey, continues. Radiation absorbed 64 years earlier continues to eat at their bodies, and memories of 64 years ago flash back as if they had happened yesterday.

Fortunately, the grave implications of the hibakusha experience are granted legal support. A good example of this support is the courageous court decision humbly accepting the fact that the effects of radiation on the human body have yet to be fully elucidated. The Japanese national government should make its assistance measures fully appropriate to the situations of the aging hibakusha, including those exposed in “black rain areas” and those living overseas. Then, tearing down the walls between its ministries and agencies, it should lead the world as standard-bearer for the movement to abolish nuclear weapons by 2020 to actualize the fervent desire of hibakusha that “No one else should ever suffer as we did.”

In April this year, US President Obama speaking in Prague said, “…as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.” And “…take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons.” Nuclear weapons abolition is the will not only of the hibakusha but also of the vast majority of people and nations on this planet. The fact that President Obama is listening to those voices has solidified our conviction that “the only role for nuclear weapons is to be abolished.”

In response, we support President Obama and have a moral responsibility to act to abolish nuclear weapons. To emphasize this point, we refer to ourselves, the great global majority, as the “Obamajority,” and we call on the rest of the world to join forces with us to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020. The essence of this idea is embodied in the Japanese Constitution, which is ever more highly esteemed around the world.

Now, with more than 3,000 member cities worldwide, Mayors for Peace has given concrete substance to our “2020 Vision” through the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, and we are doing everything in our power to promote its adoption at the NPT Review Conference next year. Once the Protocol is adopted, our scenario calls for an immediate halt to all efforts to acquire or deploy nuclear weapons by all countries, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which has so recently conducted defiant nuclear tests; visits by leaders of nuclear-weapon states and suspect states to the A-bombed cities; early convening of a UN Special Session devoted to Disarmament; an immediate start to negotiations with the goal of concluding a nuclear weapons convention by 2015; and finally, to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020. We will adopt a more detailed plan at the Mayors for Peace General Conference that begins tomorrow in Nagasaki.

The year 2020 is important because we wish to enter a world without nuclear weapons with as many hibakusha as possible. Furthermore, if our generation fails to eliminate nuclear weapons, we will have failed to fulfill our minimum responsibility to those that follow.

Global Zero, the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament and others of influence throughout the world have initiated positive programs that seek the abolition of nuclear weapons. We sincerely hope that they will all join the circle of those pressing for 2020.

As seen in the anti-personnel landmine ban, liberation from poverty through the Grameen Bank, the prevention of global warming and other such movements, global democracy that respects the majority will of the world and solves problems through the power of the people has truly begun to grow. To nurture this growth and go on to solve other major problems, we must create a mechanism by which the voices of the people can be delivered directly into the UN. One idea would be to create a “Lower House” of the United Nations made up of 100 cities that have suffered major tragedies due to war and other disasters, plus another 100 cities with large populations, totaling 200 cities. The current UN General Assembly would then become the “Upper House.”

On the occasion of the Peace Memorial Ceremony commemorating the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing, we offer our solemn, heartfelt condolence to the souls of the A-bomb victims, and, together with the city of Nagasaki and the majority of Earth’s people and nations, we pledge to strive with all our strength for a world free from nuclear weapons.

We have the power. We have the responsibility. And we are the Obamajority. Together, we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can.

Tadatoshi Akiba
The City of Hiroshima

                                      Commitment to Peace

August 6, 2009

People must overcome great challenges to be born into this world.
A mother must work her hardest to have a baby, and that baby must work its hardest to be born. The result is a new soul that will carry on into the future. That’s the miracle of life.
But when a life is lost, it won’t ever come back. Wars and atomic bombs can take precious lives in a split second, and they tear apart the circle of life.

August 6, 1945, 8:15 a.m.
At this moment, the first hibakusha in human history were born of war.
From this moment on, the world would have to think seriously about nuclear weapons.

In an instant on that day, the atomic bomb swallowed Hiroshima whole.
Buildings were destroyed, and a great many people were crushed. Their skin hung down like old rags. Again and again, they cried for help and for water as they died. It was an inhuman scene, with people deprived of all dignity at the end of their lives. It was a world of darkness, with the hopes and dreams of countless people blown away in seconds.

Even today, in countries around the world, a great number of lives are being lost to conflict and violence. As children, we are the number one victims of this violence, and while we carry the scars on our bodies, the loss of our families means that we carry even greater scars in our hearts. In Japan many people still suffer from the effects of the atomic bomb, and there are even second-generation survivors who are constantly hospitalized. We can’t say that the war is over.

So what can we do to bring peace to the world in the future?
We can learn about war and the atomic bomb.
We can study the countries of the world and their histories.
We can refuse to turn a blind eye to fighting and bullying.
We can share our thoughts with people all over the world through the art and music that we love, and through many different languages.
Maybe it’s all we can do to make one small step.

But we won’t give up.
We will not avert our eyes from the darkness of war and the atomic bomb. We will seek the truth so that we can have the courage to resolve our differences with words and the strength to do away with nuclear weapons.
We make a solemn vow to continue bringing our hopes for peace to people all over the world.

Children's Representatives
Tetsuya Yano (sixth grade, Hiroshima City Yano Elementary School)
Yuki Toyama (sixth grade, Hiroshima City Itsukaichi-minami Elementary School)