“Today as Hiroshima marked its 54th anniversary of the atomic bombing of our city, we solemnly held the Peace memorial Ceremony in front of the Memorial Cenotaph in Peace Memorial Park, Japan, with thousands of people from Japan and overseas….This Peace Declaration expresses our desire for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of lasting world peace. The situation of the world is still changing suddenly. I would appreciate it if you would read through the Declaration to renew your understanding of the “Spirit of Hiroshma” and convey it to as many people as possible.” -Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, Hiroshma City
A century of war, the twentieth century spawned the devil’s own weapons-nuclear weapons -and humankind has yet to free itself of their threat. Nonetheless, inspired by the memory of the hundreds of thousands who died so tragically in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all of war’s victims, we have fought for the fifty-four years since those bombings for the total abolition of nuclear weapons.
It is the many courageous hibakusha and the people who have identified with their spirit who have led this struggle. Looking at the important contributions these hibakusha have made, we cannot but express our deepest gratitude to them.
There are three major contributions:
The first is that they were able to transcend the infernal pain and despair that the bombings sowed and to opt for life. I want young people to remember that today’s elderly hibakusha were as young as they are when their families, their schools, and their communities were destroyed in a flash. They hovered between life and death in a corpse-strewn sea of rubble and ruin-circumstances under which none would have blamed them had they chosen death. Yet they chose life.
We should never forget the will and courage that made it possible for the hibakusha to continue to be human.
Their second accomplishment is that they effectively prevented a third use of nuclear weapons. Whenever conflict and war break out, there are those who advocate nuclear weapon’s use. This was true even in Kosovo. Yet the hibakusha’s will that the evil not be repeated has prevented the unleashing of this lunacy. Their determination to tell their story to the world, to argue eloquently that to use nuclear weapons is to doom the human race, and to show the use of nuclear weapons to be the ultimate evil has brought about this result. We owe our future and our children’s future to them.
Their third achievement lies in their representing the new world-view as engraved on the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims and articulated in the Japanese Constitution. They have rejected the path of revenge and animosity that leads to extinction for all humankind. Instead, they have taken upon themselves not only the evil that Japan as a nation perpetrated but also the evil of war itself. They have also chosen to put their “trust in the justice and faith” of all humankind in order to create a future full of hope. As peace-loving people from all over the world solemnly proclaimed at the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference this May, this is the path that humankind should take in the new century. We ardently applaud all of the countries and people who have written this philosophy into their Constitutions and their laws.
Above all else, we must possess a strong will to abolish nuclear weapons following the examples set by the hibakusha. If the entire world shares this commitment-indeed, even if only the leaders of the nuclear weapons states will it so-nuclear weapons can be eliminated tomorrow.
Such will is born of truth-the truth that nuclear weapons are the absolute evil and cause humankind’s extinction.
Where there is such will, there is a way. Where there is such determination, any path we take leads to our goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. However, if we lack the will to take the first step, we can never reach our goal no matter how easy the way. I especially hope our young people share this will.
Thus, we again call upon the government of Japan to understand fully the crucial role the hibakusha have played and to enhance their support policies. We also call upon the government to place the highest priority on forging the will to abolish nuclear weapons. It is imperative that the government of Japan follows the philosophy outlined in the preamble of the Constitution to persuade other countries of this course and cement a global commitment to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I declare the abolition of nuclear weapons to be our most important responsibility for the future of the earth, and pay my utmost respect to the souls of the many that perished in the atomic bombings. May they rest in peace.
Tadatoshi Akiba Mayor, The City of Hiroshima