Japan: Hiroshima marks A-Bomb Atrocity & Fukushima Meltdown with plea for world peace Print E-mail

 & urgent review of energy policies

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 August 7 2011

Hiroshima's Peace Declaration "Review energy policies"

Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima, reads a Peace Declaration in a ceremony at the city's Peace Memorial Park on Aug. 6 to mark the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. (Shigetaka Kodama)
Rikuo Fukamachi, a 79-year-old survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing, attends a ceremony at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park. Accounts of his experiences were included in Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui's Peace Declaration on Aug. 6 as part of the messages from victims to a worldwide audience. (Shigetaka Kodama)

The following is the English version of the Peace Declaration delivered by Kazumi Matsui at the Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6, 2011

Sixty-six years ago, despite the war, the people of Hiroshima were leading fairly normal lives. Until that fateful moment, many families were enjoying life together right here in what is now Peace Memorial Park and was then one of the city's most prosperous districts. A man who was thirteen at the time shares this: "August fifth was a Sunday, and for me, a second-year student in middle school, the first full day off in a very long time. I asked a good friend from school to come with me, and we went on down to the river. Forgetting all about the time, we stayed until twilight, swimming and playing on the sandy riverbed. That hot mid-summer's day was the last time I ever saw him."

The next morning, August sixth at 8:15, a single atomic bomb ripped those normal lives out by the roots. This description is from a woman who was sixteen at the time: "My forty-kilogram body was blown seven meters by the blast, and I was knocked out. When I came to, it was pitch black and utterly silent. In that soundless world, I thought I was the only one left. I was naked except for some rags around my hips. The skin on my left arm had peeled off in five-centimeter strips that were all curled up. My right arm was sort of whitish. Putting my hands to my face, I found my right cheek quite rough while my left cheek was all slimy."

Their community and lives ravaged by an atomic bomb, the survivors were stunned and injured, and yet, they did their best to help each other: "Suddenly, I heard lots of voices crying and screaming, 'Help!' 'Mommy, help!' Turning to a voice nearby I said, 'I'll help you.' I tried to move in that direction but my body was so heavy. I did manage to move enough to save one young child, but with no skin on my hands, I was unable to help any more. ...I'm really sorry.' ...

Such scenes were unfolding not just here where this park is but all over Hiroshima. Wanting to help but unable to do so--many also still live with the guilt of being their family's sole survivor.

Based on their own experiences and carrying in their hearts the voices and feelings of those sacrificed to the bomb, the hibakusha called for a world without nuclear weapons as they struggled day by day to survive. In time, along with other Hiroshima residents, and with generous assistance from Japan and around the world, they managed to bring their city back to life.

Their average age is now over 77. Calling forth what remains of the strength that revived their city, they continue to pursue the lasting peace of a world free from nuclear weapons. Can we let it go at this? Absolutely not. The time has come for the rest of us to learn from all the hibakusha what they experienced and their desire for peace. Then, we must communicate what we learn to future generations and the rest of the world.

Through this Peace Declaration, I would like to communicate the hibakusha experience and desire for peace to each and every person on this planet. Hiroshima will pour everything we have into working, along with Nagasaki, to expand Mayors for Peace such that all cities, those places around the world where people gather, will strive together to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2020. Moreover, we want all countries, especially the nuclear-armed states, including the United States of America, which continues its subcritical nuclear testing and related experiments, to pursue enthusiastically a process that will abolish nuclear weapons. To that end, we plan to host an international conference that will bring the world's policymakers to Hiroshima to discuss the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

The Great East Japan Earthquake of March eleventh this year was so destructive it revived images of Hiroshima 66 years ago and still pains our hearts. Here in Hiroshima we sincerely pray for the souls of all who perished and strongly support the survivors, wishing them the quickest possible recovery.

The accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and the ongoing threat of radiation have generated tremendous anxiety among those in the affected areas and many others. The trust the Japanese people once had in nuclear power has been shattered. From the common admonition that "nuclear energy and humankind cannot coexist," some seek to abandon nuclear power altogether. Others advocate extremely strict control of nuclear power and increased utilization of renewable energy.

The Japanese government should humbly accept this reality, quickly review our energy policies, and institute concrete countermeasures to regain the understanding and trust of the people. In addition, with our hibakusha aging, we demand that the Japanese government promptly expand its "black rain areas" and offer more comprehensive and caring assistance measures to all hibakusha regardless of their countries of residence.

Offering our heartfelt condolences to the souls of the A-bomb victims, reaffirming our conviction that "the atomic bombing must never be repeated" and "no one else should ever have to suffer like this," we hereby pledge to do everything in our power to abolish nuclear weapons and build lasting world peace.

Kazumi Matsui

Mayor, The City of Hiroshima

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 August 6 2011

66th anniversary of A-bombing

BY RYUTA KURATOMI STAFF WRITER
Visitors to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park observe a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, the exact moment that the atomic bomb struck the city in 1945. In the background is the Atomic Bomb Dome. (Takaharu Yagi)

Hiroshima marked the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city with a plea for world peace and an urgent call for Japan to review its energy policies.

In a ceremony held on Aug. 6 at Peace Memorial Park in the city's Naka Ward, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who assumed the post in April this year, read the Peace Declaration.

The declaration for the first time included the experiences of two atomic-bomb survivors, or hibakusha, who were selected from among applicants.

Their stories described how the atomic bombing destroyed people's lives that had been relatively normal despite the war.

The declaration also asked the central government to review its energy policies, saying the threat of radiation caused by the accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has heightened anxiety among the public.

Representatives of 66 countries and the European Union took part in the ceremony.

Matsui and two representatives from the bereaved families added the names of 5,785 hibakusha who died over the past year to the cenotaph that honors victims of the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan and representatives of other countries offered flowers to the cenotaph.

The Peace Bell was rung at 8:15 a.m., the time when the bomb was dropped, and a moment of silence was observed.

The declaration also described the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake as "so destructive that it revived images of Hiroshima 66 years ago."

It expressed support for the recovery efforts in the disaster areas.

The declaration described two stances in relation to the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

One was the complete abolition of nuclear power while the other was extremely strict control of nuclear power and increased use of renewable energies.

After the Peace Declaration was read, Nanoka Fujita and Masahiro Fukuhara, both 11, read a pledge for peace on behalf of children. Fujita and Fukuhara are sixth-graders at Koi and Misasa elementary schools in the city, respectively.

In the final stage of the ceremony, Kan and others delivered speeches.

As of the end of March this year, 219,410 people had "hibakusha kenko techo," pocketbooks that prove they are hibakusha.

The figure was a decrease of 8,155 from the same time last year. Their average age was 77.44 years old, up 0.71 from the previous year.
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  Tokyo ~ Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011

Fukushima nuke crisis invoked at Hiroshima event

Kan pitches new energy policy goals on bomb anniversary

Paper lanterns float down the Motoyasugawa River in front of the A-Bomb Dome. KYODO / AP
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer

HIROSHIMA ­ Hiroshima marked the 66th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb Saturday morning in a ceremony that paid tribute to victims of the March 11 quake and tsunami and heard calls by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Hiroshima politicians and local residents to consider moving away from nuclear power.

In memoriam: Prime Minister Naoto Kan speaks at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park in Saturday's ceremony marking the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing.

As fear that radiation leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant entering the food chain continues to grow, media polls across the nation show an increasing number of people support moving away from nuclear power toward renewable energy. That includes many who attended Saturday's ceremony.

"We're very sorry for the people of Fukushima. If the reactor disaster wakes people up to the dangers of nuclear power, it will hopefully lead to the eventual closure of all Japan's nuclear power plants, which can be replaced by better conservation measures and renewable energies," said Hiroko Takenaka, 53, a Hiroshima resident whose parents were living near the city when the atomic bomb exploded.

In his remarks, Kan reaffirmed his commitment to a new energy policy away from nuclear power.

"The Fukushima reactor incident provides the human race with a new lesson and our mission is to convey that lesson to the world, and to the next generation. The country's energy policy is being fundamentally reviewed, following a deep reflection on the myth that nuclear power is safe. My aim is to reduce Japan's level of reliance on nuclear power so as to create a society that isn't addicted to it," Kan told the gathering, officially estimated at 50,000 but which appeared much less.

The annual Hiroshima peace declaration, read out by Mayor Kazumi Matsui, also paid tribute to the victims of March 11. Unlike Kan, however, Matsui did not issue a clear call to cut back on nuclear power, which before March 11 provided around 30 percent of the country's electricity needs. Instead, he called for a general rethink of the current energy policy.

"The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11 was so destructive it revived images of Hiroshima 66 years ago and still pains our hearts," Matsui said. "Here in Hiroshima, we sincerely pray for the souls of all who perished and strongly support the survivors.

"The accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the ongoing threat of radiation have generated tremendous anxiety among those in the affected areas and elsewhere. The trust the Japanese people once had in nuclear power has been shattered. From the common admonition that 'nuclear energy and humankind cannot coexist,' some seek to abandon nuclear power altogether. Others advocate extremely strict control of nuclear power and increased utilization of nuclear energy," Matsui continued.

"The Japanese government should humbly accept this reality, quickly review our energy policies, and institute concrete countermeasures to regain the understanding and trust of the people," he added.

Earlier in the week, there had been questions over how the mayor would refer to the Fukushima disaster in the peace declaration, and whether he would use forceful language advocating a reduction or even termination of Japan's reliance on nuclear power.

Matsui's call for a fundamental energy rethink is unprecedented for Hiroshima. But other local leaders, including the Osaka governor and mayor, have already voiced support for replacing nuclear power with renewable energy sources.

Saying he didn't want to see any more hibakusha, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, told reporters on July 28 that the Nagasaki peace declaration, to be proclaimed Tuesday, would also call for a shift from nuclear energy to safer renewable energy sources.

People pray for the bomb's victims in front of a cenotaph at the peace park.

Matsui also urged the central government to do more for aging victims of the atomic bombs, including speeding up the process for certification as hibakusha. The average age of hibakusha is now more than 77 and many are still awaiting official certification.

To speed up the certification process, Matsui called on the central government to expand the size of the "black rain" areas, those parts of the city officially designated as areas where hibakusha, or hibakusha applicants, live. Because many victims were Koreans living in Japan at the time, the mayor spoke of the need for more comprehensive assistance measures for all hibakusha, regardless of their countries of residence.

After the ceremony, Kan met with seven hibakusha representatives. A couple of them asked the central government not only to strengthen assistance measures for hibakusha but also for those living or working at or in the vicinity of Fukushima No. 1.

"The central government and the utility in charge have a responsibility to provide health checks and treatment to workers at the Fukushima plant and to those living around it," said Yukio Yoshioka, leader of a group of Hiroshima hibakusha.

"As for the hibakusha, it's important for the government to revise the laws to allow for more assistance for psychological care, as well as provide more assistance to second-generation hibakusha," Yoshioka said.

"Although officially different, in terms of concerns about radiation, there are similarities between the hibakusha and the Fukushima reactor accident," Kan told a news conference following the meeting.