Peace Declaration at August 6 ceremony to convey messages of A-bomb survivors

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

On July 17, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui presented the draft of the Hiroshima Peace Declaration which he will read aloud at the Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6. The mayor’s presentation was made to an advisory panel composed of people assembled by the city to consider how to incorporate the A-bomb experiences of Hiroshima citizens into the text of the declaration. This year’s declaration will include the accounts of five survivors who describe the horrific scenes in the aftermath of the atomic bombing as well as suffering after the war due to discrimination against A-bomb survivors. Mr. Matsui will stress the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and urge the Japanese government to endorse an international joint statement calling for the use of nuclear arms to be outlawed.

Eight members of the panel, A-bomb survivors among them, attended the meeting held at Hiroshima City Hall and discussed the content of the draft behind closed doors. According to the mayor, he will quote the experiences of the survivors in the first half of the declaration. Of the five survivors’ accounts, three were selected from the 56 accounts submitted to the city from home and abroad, while the other two were contributed by members of the panel. The declaration will share the messages of survivors who are appealing for the elimination of nuclear weapons after overcoming physical and psychological wounds, and the pain of discrimination.

The second part of the declaration will refer to domestic and international conditions surrounding nuclear abolition. Although the declaration will not criticize the Japanese government for declining to support a recent joint statement on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, which had backing from about 80 nations, it will urge the government to sign a similar statement in the future. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has demonstrated a desire to alter Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, the clause outlawing war, Mr. Matsui will discuss the Constitution from the perspective of the mayor of Hiroshima, a city seeking peace in the world.

Members of the panel have reached broad agreement with regard to the content of the draft. The mayor will now make adjustments to the wording and make the outline of the declaration public in early August. After the meeting, he spoke to the media, saying, “I hope to deliver a declaration that will enable people to grasp the reality of the atomic bombing and feel that nuclear weapons should be abolished from the world.”

(Originally published on July 18, 2013)