Former Malaysian prime minister Mahatir speaks on peace in Hiroshima

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

Mahathir bin Mohamad, 83, former prime minister of Malaysia, arrived in Hiroshima on August 5 to attend the August 6 Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima. One day before the ceremony, he gave a speech at Aster Plaza and stressed that “War is a serious crime.” He offered ideas on how youth can take part in promoting peace, such as networking through the Internet.

About 350 young people, both Japanese and non-Japanese, listened to Mr. Mahathir’s special lecture for the International Youth Conference for Peace in the Future. He expressed his concerns about the development of new types of nuclear weapons and current international conditions, in which nuclear weapons are proliferating. “Wars victimize innocent civilians,” he said. “They are illegal and immoral.” He added that it is wrong to view war as a means of settling disputes.

The young listeners followed his speech attentively, and Mr. Mahathir gave them encouraging words. “Even though it takes a long time, I look forward to seeing young people making contributions to peace building.” He suggested some concrete measures for youth of different countries to take, such as networking with others through the Internet to promote peace activities, holding A-bomb exhibitions, and appealing to politicians. “Let’s take the first step in Hiroshima, where many people died,” he said.

Mr. Mahathir also visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on the same day. Before coming to Hiroshima, he spoke in Fukuoka on August 4, the impetus for his trip to Japan. His visit to Hiroshima was arranged at Mr. Mahathir’s own request.

(Originally published on August 6, 2009)

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