71 nations and EU to attend Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

On July 16, the City of Hiroshima announced details of the Peace Memorial Ceremony set for August 6 in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. This year’s ceremony will commemorate the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing. With A-bomb survivors and family members of the victims advancing in age, the city plans to create seating inside the International Conference Center Hiroshima, also located in the park, for the first time to address the summer heat. The ceremony will be screened live within the conference center. From overseas, ambassadors from 71 nations and the European Union (EU) have indicated that they will attend the ceremony.

The ceremony will last for 45 minutes, beginning at 8 a.m. At 8:15, the time the atomic bomb was dropped over the city, Shiori Sakoda, 32, an employee at the Hiroshima University of Economics and a resident of Asakita Ward, representing the bereaved families, will toll the peace bell and offer a moment of silence, along with Rintaro Ito, 11, a sixth-grader at Fukuromachi Elementary School and a resident of Naka Ward, serving as the children’s representative. Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui will then read aloud the Peace Declaration.

The “Commitment to Peace” will then be read by Shunji Takeuchi, 11, a sixth-grader at Yoshijima-higashi Elementary School and a resident of Naka Ward, and Yuzu Nakamori, 11, a sixth-grader at Kuchita Elementary School and a resident of Asakita Ward. On July 16, Yuzu joined the press conference held at Hiroshima City Hall and said, “I would like to convey the thoughts of the children of Hiroshima, who cherish peace.”

Family members of the victims, representing 42 prefectures, will attend the ceremony. The average age of these representatives is 68.7, with 84 the oldest and 41 the youngest. On the second level of the basement in the International Conference Center Hiroshima, 300 seats will be made available in a hall for viewing the ceremony via a live Internet feed. For the seating area outdoors, four nurses will be present.

The City of Hiroshima has sent letters to 153 nations and the EU, inviting them to attend the ceremony. Among the nations whose responses had reached the city by July 16, three countries--Guinea, Togo, and Tonga--will be attending the ceremony for the first time.

Among the five major nuclear powers, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia have expressed their intention to attend the ceremony, while China has indicated that it will be absent. The United States, which has attended the ceremony for the past three years, has not yet responded. While Israel, India, and Pakistan, de facto nuclear weapon states, will attend, no response has been received from North Korea.

Vuk Jeremic, president of the United Nations General Assembly, from Serbia, has indicated that he will attend the ceremony. From the Japanese government, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, and Health and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura are making arrangements to attend.

(Originally published on July 17, 2013)