Sakharov visits Peace Museum, calls for peaceful, nuclear-free world

Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov visited Hiroshima for the first time on November 4. Sakharov, 68, a physicist who worked on the development of the hydrogen bomb, has called for a halt to the development of nuclear weapons and the democratization of the Soviet Union. He toured the Peace Memorial Museum and, in an address before an audience of 600 at the city hall auditorium, called for a world without nuclear weapons or war.

Sakharov, who has been called “the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb,” said it was his duty to visit Hiroshima, where the nuclear age began, and said he became increasingly excited as his bullet train from Fukuoka approached Hiroshima on the morning of November 4. In Peace Memorial Park, Sakharov saw the A-bomb Dome, which is undergoing preservation work, and toured the Peace Memorial Museum. Afterwards, he and his wife, Yelena Bonner, laid flowers at the memorial cenotaph.

At the Peace Memorial Museum, Sakharov listened intently to the explanations by Yoshitaka Kawamoto, director of the facility and an atomic bomb survivor. He wore a pained expression while looking at items such as a bottle that had been melted by the intense heat and the steps on which the shadow of a person can be seen and said the bombing was “a terrible tragedy.” In the guest book he wrote, “We all must vow to ensure that such a thing never occurs again anywhere.”

A panel discussion held at the city hall auditorium in the afternoon on the theme of “Hiroshima and the World” was attended by Toru Yano, a professor at Kyoto University, and Takeshi Araki, mayor of Hiroshima. Sakharov talked about balance in conventional weapons capability, the resolution of regional conflicts and the realization of a pluralistic world through greater closeness between the East and West as conditions for the gradual abolition of nuclear weapons.

Sakharov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. Because of his protests against the government, in 1980 he was sent into internal exile to Gorky where he spent six years. This year he was elected to the new parliament, the Congress of People’s Deputies, and is active as a leader of the opposition.

(Nov. 5, 1989)