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August 15, 2015

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Mayors Plead for a Nuclear Weapons Free World

By Ramesh Jaura

Source:  Inter Press News Service --

BERLIN/TOKYO, Aug 10 2015 (IPS) - Seventy years after the brutal and militarily
unwarranted atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on
Aug. 6 and 9, a nuclear weapons free world is far from within reach.

Commemorating the two events, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made
impassioned pleas for heeding the experiences of the survivors of the atomic
bombings and the growing worldwide awareness of the compelling need for complete
abolition of such weapons.

The atomic bombings in 1945 destroyed the two cities, and more than 200,000 people
died of nuclear radiation, shockwaves from the blasts and thermal radiation. Over
400,000 have died since the end of the war, from the after-effects of the bombs.

As of Mar. 31, 2015, the Japanese government had recognised 183,519 as
‘hibakusha’ (explosion-affected people), most of them living in Japan. Japan’s Atomic
Bomb Survivors Relief Law defines hibakusha as people who were: within a few
kilometres of the hypocentres of the bombs; within 2 km of the hypocentres within two
weeks of the bombings; exposed to radiation from fallout; or not yet born but carried
by pregnant women in any of these categories.
“Our world still bristles with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons, and policy-makers in
the nuclear-armed states remain trapped in provincial thinking, repeating by word and
deed their nuclear intimidation” – Kazumi Matsui, mayor of Hiroshima

During the commemorative events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reports in several
newspapers confirmed that those bombings were militarily unwarranted.

Gar Alperovitz, formerly Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the
University of Maryland, wrote in The Nation that that “the war was won before
Hiroshima – and the generals who dropped the bomb knew it.”

He quoted Adm. William Leahy, President Harry S. Truman’s Chief of Staff, who wrote
in his 1950 memoir ‘I Was There’ [that] “the use of this barbarous weapon at
Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The
Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender …”

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the U.S. president from 1953 until 1961, shared this view.
He was a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II and served
as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.

Eisenhower stated in his memoirs that when notified by Secretary of War Henry
Stimson of the decision to use atomic weapons, he “voiced to him my grave
misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that
dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.”

Even the famous “hawk” Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Twenty-First Bomber
Command, went public the month after the bombing, telling the press that “the atomic
bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all,” wrote Alperovitz.

“The peoples of this world must unite or they will perish,” warned Robert
Oppenheimer, widely considered the father of the bomb, as he called on politicians to
place the terrifying power of the atom under strict international control.

Oppenheimer’s call has yet to be followed.

In his fervent address on Aug. 6, Kazumi Matsui, mayor of the City of Hiroshima, said:
“Our world still bristles with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons, and policy-makers in
the nuclear-armed states remain trapped in provincial thinking, repeating by word and
deed their nuclear intimidation.”

He added: “We now know about the many incidents and accidents that have taken us
to the brink of nuclear war or nuclear explosions. Today, we worry as well about
nuclear terrorism.”

As long as nuclear weapons exist, he warned, anyone could become a hibakusha at
any time. If that happens, the damage would reach indiscriminately beyond national
borders. “People of the world, please listen carefully to the words of the hibakusha
and, profoundly accepting the spirit of Hiroshima, contemplate the nuclear problem as
your own,” he exhorted.

As president of Mayors for Peace, comprising mayors from more than 6,700 member
cities, Kazumi Matsui vowed: “Hiroshima will act with determination, doing everything in
our power to accelerate the international trend toward negotiations for a nuclear
weapons convention and abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.”

This, he said, was the first step toward nuclear weapons abolition. The next step
would be to create, through the trust thus won, broadly versatile security systems that
do not depend on military might.

“Working with patience and perseverance to achieve those systems will be vital, and
will require that we promote throughout the world the path to true peace revealed by
the pacifism of the Japanese Constitution,” he added.

“We call on the Japanese government, in its role as bridge between the nuclear- and
non-nuclear-weapon states, to guide all states toward these discussions, and we offer
Hiroshima as the venue for dialogue and outreach,” the mayor of Hiroshima said.

In the Nagasaki Peace Declaration issued on Aug. 9, Nagasaki mayor Tomihisa Taue
asked the Japanese government and Parliament to “fix your sights on the future, and
please consider a conversion from a ‘nuclear umbrella’ to a ‘non-nuclear umbrella’.”

Japan does not possess any atomic weapons and is protected, like South Korea and
Germany, as well as most of the NATO member states, by the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
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He appealed to the Japanese government to explore national security measures,
which do not rely on nuclear deterrence. “The establishment of a ‘Northeast Asia
Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NEA-NWFZ),’ as advocated by researchers in America,
Japan, Korea, China, and many other countries, would make this possible,” he said.

Referring to the Japanese Parliament “currently deliberating a bill, which will
determine how our country guarantees its security”, he said: “There is widespread
unease and concern that the oath which was engraved onto our hearts 70 years ago
and the peaceful ideology of the Constitution of Japan are now wavering. I urge the
Government and the Diet to listen to these voices of unease and concern,
concentrate their wisdom, and conduct careful and sincere deliberations.”

The Nagasaki Peace Declaration noted that the peaceful ideology of the Constitution
of Japan was born from painful and harsh experiences, and from reflection on the war.
“Since the war, our country has walked the path of a peaceful nation. For the sake of
Nagasaki, and for the sake of all of Japan, we must never change the peaceful
principle that we renounce war,” the declaration said.

The Nagasaki mayor regretted that the Review Conference of the Parties to the
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) held at the United Nations
earlier this year had struggled with reaching agreement on a Final Document.

However, said Taue, the efforts of those countries which were attempting to ban
nuclear weapons had made possible a draft Final Document “which incorporated
steps towards nuclear disarmament.”

He urged the heads of NPT member states not to allow the NPT Review Conference
“to have been a waste”. Instead, they should continue their efforts to debate a legal
framework, such as a ‘Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC),’ at every opportunity,
including at the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Many countries at the Review Conference were in agreement that it was important to
visit the atomic-bombed cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Against this backdrop, the Nagasaki mayor appealed to “President [Barack] Obama,
heads of state, including the heads of the nuclear weapon states, and all the people
of the world … (to) please come to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and see for yourself
exactly what happened under those mushroom clouds 70 years ago.”

No U.S. president has ever attended the any event to commemorate the atomic
bombing of Hiroshima. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International
Security Rose Gottemoeller was the highest-ranking U.S. official at the Aug. 6
ceremony. She was reported as saying that nuclear weapons should never be used

Edited by Phil Harris