It was 52 years ago today that a single atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima. The skies flashed brighter than a thousand suns and a huge mushroom cloud rose above the city. Untold numbers perished in the sea of flames that followed, and the survivors still suffer from radiation’s debilitating aftereffects.
This event engendered profound distrust of the scientific civilization that has made such dramatic progress over the last hundred years. Science and technology have spawned many conveniences and made our live more comfortable, yet they have also been employed to create the weapons of mass destruction used over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not only do nuclear weapons imperil humanity’s future, the civilization that created them gravely impacts the whole of the global ecosystem.
We in Hiroshima are outraged that nuclear weapons have yet to be abolished and banished from the face of the earth, and we are very uneasy about the future of civilization.
In signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the international community agreed to put a halt to all nuclear explosions, but much remains to be done before the CTBT can go into force. This was the situation when the United States conducted a subcritical test which it contends is not banned by the CTBT language. On the one hand, the U.S. promises to reduce its stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and on the other hand it obstinately maintains its nuclear testing program. This attitude is utterly devoid of the wisdom needed if all peoples are to coexist. We implore the global community to recognize that nuclear weapons stand at the very apex of all the violence that war represents.
The Fourth World Conference of Mayors for Peace through Inter-city Solidarity currently meeting in Hiroshima seeks a nuclear-free world and is deliberating calling upon all governments and international institutions to conclude a pact banning the use of nuclear weapons and to expand nuclear-weapons-free zones. Hiroshima specifically calls upon the government of Japan to devise security arrangements that do not rely upon a nuclear umbrella.
Japan and other countries differ in language, religion, and customs, and there are also some differences of historical perspective, particularly with our neighbors. All the more do we hope that candid dialogue among all the peoples of the world will result in a shared vision of a brighter tomorrow.
With the world in tumultuous transition, we intend to take every opportunity at home and abroad to convey not only the terrible violence, destruction, and death the atomic bomb wrought but also the inspiring beauty of human life striving toward the future despite experiencing abject despair. The culture of peace generated in the process of Hiroshima’s rebirth is a beacon of hope for all humanity, just as the Atomic Bomb Dome, now designated a World Heritage site, stands as a symbol of hope for all who reject nuclear weapons.
Along with paying our utmost respects to the souls of those who died, we pledge ourselves anew on this Peace Memorial Day to pressing for compassionate assistance policies grounded in reality for the aging hibakusha wherever they may live.
“Since wars begin in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” This thought from the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Constitution must be indelibly etched in our hearts, and I hereby declare it Hiroshima’s resolve.