Hiroshima Updates: US Ambassador’s Attendance at A-bomb Service an Historic First

August 7th, 2010 - by admin

Arn Specter / The Nuclear Review – 2010-08-07 00:52:47


UN Ban Ki-Moon, others Speak at Memorial
The Yomiuri Shimbun

HIROSHIMA (August 7, 2010) — For the first time, a representative of the United States has attended the peace memorial ceremony held each year in Hiroshima to commemorate the atomic bomb attack on the city, which occurred 65 years ago Friday.

Survivors of the US atomic bombing welcomed the historic presence at the ceremony of US Ambassador to Japan John Roos, who offered a silent prayer for the victims of the bombing.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and representatives of Britain and France, two other nuclear-power nations, also attended the service.

“I hope [Roos] will tell the United States about what he felt today during the ceremony, to help realize a nuclear-free world,” one survivor said.

Roos arrived at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where the ceremony took place, at about 7:30 a.m.

He was greeted by Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba. Roos smiled and shook hands with Akiba before taking his seat.

The relaxed atmosphere changed when the ceremony began, and Roos’ face was solemn throughout the proceedings. He stood to offer a silent prayer at the time the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 6, 1945.

At times, Roos wiped sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief, but he looked straight ahead throughout the ceremony and maintained good posture.

Afterward, Roos was asked by reporters outside the venue for his impressions of the ceremony, but he offered no comment and left the park shortly before 9 a.m.

Steven Leeper, a US citizen who serves as chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, said: “The US ambassador’s attendance is a message from US President Barack Obama about wanting a nuclear-free world. It’s a historic event.”

When Roos visited Hiroshima with his parents and son in October, Leeper escorted them through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which is managed by the foundation. Roos showed particular interest in stones and roof tiles that were melted by the heat of the atomic bomb blast, Leeper said.

“I suppose that, as a parent, the ambassador feels the necessity to abolish nuclear weapons,” Leeper, 62, said.

Shiro Kawamoto, president of the Shizuoka A-Bomb and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization, said, “[Roos’ attendance] is an important step forward, but I hope President Obama will visit Hiroshima next year and listen directly to the voices of atomic bomb survivors.”

In May, Kawamoto, 73, attended a conference at U.N. Headquarters in New York held to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. He spoke of his experience as a survivor of the atomic bombing.

The charge d’affaires of France, Christophe Penot, and Britain’s deputy ambassador, David Fitton, also attended the memorial ceremony.

Penot said he attended the ceremony to show his country’s commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Fitton attended an event held after the ceremony in which atomic bomb survivors spoke of their experiences. He said people around the world should think about the meaning of the memorial ceremony and the devastation inflicted in Hiroshima 65 years ago.

Roos, 55, was born in San Francisco in 1955. After graduating from Stanford Law School, he worked for a Silicon Valley-based law firm.

Roos was a major fund-raiser for Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. In May 2009, Roos was appointed US ambassador to Japan despite a lack of diplomatic experience.

Ban to museum, meets survivor

Under a brilliant sun and wearing a light blue tie the color of the U.N. flag, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon bowed his head in silent prayer as the Peace Bell rang at the ceremony.

After the ceremony, Ban visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where a photograph of a person scarred by heat from the blast seemed to take his breath away. In a museum guestbook, he wrote that he hoped people would work together to achieve a world free from nuclear weapons.

He then went to the International Conference Center in the city for a short meeting with Akihiro Takahashi, 79, a former director of the peace museum and an atom bomb survivor. Ban had reportedly expressed a desire to meet with survivors of the bombing.

Takahashi was a 14-year-old boy in a schoolyard 1.4 kilometers from the blast center when the atom bomb exploded. He suffered severe burns, and when he showed Ban the scorched school uniform he was wearing at the time, Ban said “arigato [thank you]” in Japanese, and told Takahashi he was grateful for his contributions to peace.

“I felt [Ban] really listened to me, and that the feelings of bomb survivors touched his heart,” Takahashi said. “I hope he’ll take the lead in the struggle to realize a world without nuclear weapons.”

Ban was born in Chungcheongbuk-do Province, South Korea, in 1944. After graduating from Seoul National University, he entered the foreign ministry in 1970 and served in positions such as ambassador to the United Nations. Under the administration of former President Roh Moo-hyun, Ban served as a presidential adviser on foreign affairs before becoming foreign affairs and trade minister. He took up his current post in January 2007.

Atomic Apology? US to Send First Delegation to Hiroshima A-Bomb Memorial
Associated Press

TOKYO (August 4, 2010) — Survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are welcoming a decision by the United States to send its first ever delegation to a ceremony marking the anniversary of the attacks, but are asking for something they aren’t likely to get — an apology.

Tokyo has praised the decision to send US Ambassador John Roos to the Hiroshima anniversary on Friday, though some survivors of the attack, which is seen by many in Japan as an unjustified use of excessive force against a civilian population, say they have mixed feelings.

“They best thing they could do would be to apologize,” said Terumi Tanaka, who survived the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki at age 13 and is now secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Associations. “But I doubt that is going to happen.”

Tanaka, whose organization is the only nationwide network of atomic bomb survivors, said the decision to send Roos is a positive sign of US resolve to abolish nuclear weapons.

“We welcome the visit. But without an apology, it is difficult for us,” he said. “We aren’t asking for reparations. We simply want the US to apologize and get rid of its nuclear arsenal.”

US officials say they felt it was “the right thing to do” to send Roos to the ceremony — which begins Friday morning with the ringing of a bell and the release of doves. They also hope the move will underscore President Barack Obama’s call for a world without nuclear weapons.

Roos visited Hiroshima just weeks after he arrived in Tokyo in 2009, and the response was generally positive. But this is the first time the US will send a delegation to the anniversary ceremony itself.

About 140,000 people were killed or died within months when an American B-29 bombed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Three days later, about 80,000 people died after the United States attacked Nagasaki. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, ending World War II.

Hiroshima officials on Wednesday said this year representatives of 75 countries will attend the ceremony, along with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Representatives from nuclear powers France and Britain will also attend for the first time.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba singled out Roos’ decision to participate as particularly significant.

“The attendance of Ambassador Roos will further strengthen world opinion toward the abolition of nuclear weapons and, we strongly hope, deepen the resolve of the government of Washington, as a nuclear power, to destroy such weapons,” Akiba said in a statement.

Noriyuki Shikata, a spokesman for the prime minister, said the trip is a meaningful chance to influence public opinion toward a nuclear-weapon-free world.

“Since 65 years have passed, rather than demanding the US apologize, at this point it is important to send a message to the world, and to the younger generation, that this must never be repeated,” he said. Roos is not scheduled to speak at the event.

After touring the Hiroshima Peace Museum last October during his first trip to the city, Roos wrote in a guest book that he was deeply moved. “A visit to Hiroshima is a powerful reminder of the destructiveness of nuclear weapons, and underscores the importance of working together to seek the peace and security of a world without them,” he said, according to a statement issued by the US Embassy.

Roos’ willingness to travel to Hiroshima has raised hopes that Obama — who is expected to visit Japan in November — may be next.

Calls have grown in Japan for Obama to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki since his speech in Prague envisioning a nuclear-free world and since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The mayors of both cities have invited him and Japanese newspaper editorials and anti-nuclear groups have pointed out that previous Nobel Peace Prize winners have visited the cities.

“President Obama should go to Hiroshima and Nagasaki himself, as the mayors of those two cities have officially invited him to do, and he should meet with the Hibakusha, survivors of the bombings, to hear their plea that these horrific weapons be abolished so that no one ever suffers as they have,”

said Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action, a Washington-based activist group. But the apology issue could squelch any such plans.

Signs of sympathy toward Japanese suffering could be seen as criticism of the US decision to drop the bombs — viewed by many Americans as a pragmatic move to hasten the end of the war that the US entered after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Others see the bombings as crimes against humanity.

“I don’t think it would be unreasonable to expect an apology,” said Yasunari Fujimoto, secretary-general of the Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs. “But what is most important now is that the US is being represented, the suffering of the victims will be acknowledged, and the process toward getting rid of nuclear weapons will get a boost.”

Former President Jimmy Carter visited the atomic bomb memorial at the Hiroshima Peace Museum in 1984, after he was out of office. The highest-ranking American to visit while in office is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who went last year.

Mayors for Peace hosted a Nuclear Conference
Jackie Cabaasso

Dear Abolitionists — Konichiwa from Hiroshima!

From July 27 – 29, Mayors for Peace hosted a conference for the total elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020. A very far-reaching conference appeal was adopted, with the full support of representatives from the UN and important international NGO representatives. The Appeal From the Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons is attached, along with the Message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the conference.

The Conference Appeal includes new information about the catastrophic climate impacts that would result from even a very limited nuclear weapons use, and for the first time in such a document calls on governments to cut military spending. It also calls on like-minded governments to convene a special conference in 2011 to prepare for negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention (treaty).

The message from Ban Ki-moon includes some especially quotable language about the false notion of security afforded by nuclear weapons. I know it’s been reported that for the first time a US ambassador will attend the Hiroshima ceremony on August 6, but perhaps more importantly, Ban Ki-moon will attend and speak. This is the first time a UN SG has ever visited Hiroshima on August 6. Many “firsts” here.

Appeal from the Hiroshima Conference
For the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020

I. The Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020 brought together 203 participants from 69 cities and 51 NGOs in 16 countries on the eve of the 65th anniversaries of the atomic bombings to discuss the outcome of the May 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and explore the most effective means of facilitating progress toward a nuclear-weapon-free world. The conference welcomed the message from UN Secretary – General Ban Ki-moon, in which he declared: “Most of the world’s population today lives in cities. If the mayors of the world are uniting, the world is uniting.”

II. The conference positively notes that this NPT Review Conference confirmed by consensus the commitment of the 190 States Parties to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world. Significantly, the final document, for the first time and despite considerable resistance from most of the nuclear weapon states, mentions a nuclear weapons convention and the role of civil society. Building on this foundation, we are determined to do everything in our power to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons.

III. The final document notes that most nations advise establishment of timelines for the negotiation process. For forty years, the promise of NPT Article VI calling for good faith negotiations on nuclear disarmament, has gone unfulfilled. Now, the survivors of the hell on earth experienced by Hiroshima and Nagasaki 65 years ago have reached an average age of 76 years. We demand that all governments, especially those of the nuclear- armed states, recognize the urgent need to abolish nuclear weapons, establish firm time tables, take concrete action, and produce results.

IV. The international community carries a profound responsibility to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world while the hibakusha are still with us. The Mayors for Peace global network of over 4,000 cities has become a strong civil society voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020. The process to achieve a nuclear weapons convention set forth by Mayors for Peace in the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol is increasingly important and urgent.

V. Prior to the Review Conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon advanced a 5-point plan for achieving a world without nuclear weapons. That plan clearly calls for a nuclear weapons convention, and we anticipate that the UN will make significant progress under the leadership of the Secretary-General. As he has stated, the abolition of nuclear weapons should be the UN’s highest priority. The nuclear-armed states and those under nuclear umbrellas must recognize that the Secretary-General’s proposed actions reflect the will of the vast majority of nations and people on this planet.

VI. This conference looked toward progress within the UN, the global forum for comprehensive negotiations. However, we also looked at the Ottawa and Oslo processes through which the international community achieved bans on anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. The human family deemed it wise to ban these indiscriminate weapons. Now, civil society and governments should begin acting with urgency to eliminate nuclear weapons – the ultimate indiscriminate weapon, which threatens human survival. Due to the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons, they clearly violate international humanitarian law. Every stage of the nuclear weapon cycle, including the development, manufacturing, testing, and use of nuclear weapons, has poisoned the environment and damaged human health and, therefore, we commend all efforts to control these stages effectively such as the CTBT.

VII. What we need is political will and concerted action to abolish nuclear weapons. Mayors for Peace will demand leadership and action from not only Japan , the only A-bombed nation, but also other governments. This conference hereby calls for a broad, closely cooperating coalition to create and sustain the political will necessary to achieve a nuclear weapons convention.

VIII. The key will be to rally our forces with a heightened sense of urgency. New studies show that the detonation – by accident or design – of even a very limited number of modern nuclear weapons equal to 100 Hiroshima bombs, would lead to catastrophic climate change resulting in famine and mass starvation on an unprecedented global scale. Mayors for Peace will be emphasizing the strong grassroots demand for a nuclear abolition process that sets deadlines. In addition to focusing on a timetable, we must prioritize organization. Now is the time for closer collaboration among all like minded countries, cities, NGOs, citizens and the UN to build a more powerful, unified global campaign for a comprehensive ban on the development, testing, production, modernization, possession, deployment and use of nuclear weapons. This conference calls on people and governments to join hands in a global effort to abolish nuclear weapons by 2020.

IX. Mayors for Peace and the participants in the Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020:

1) In support of the UN Secretary-General’s 5-point plan, call upon all governments to immediately start negotiations toward the conclusion of an international treaty banning nuclear weapons in time to eliminate those weapons by 2020. To this end, governments that have expressed their desire for a comprehensive legal process, in partnership with like-minded NGOs, should convene a special disarmament conference in 2011 to facilitate the start of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention.

2) Demand that all countries promptly cease all activities related to the development, testing, production, modernization, deployment, and use of nuclear weapons and related infrastructure. In this regard, we demand that countries redouble their efforts to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear test Ban Treaty into force urgently and without conditions. Special responsibility lies with the nine remaining countries which must sign and ratify the Treaty for it to come into force. Effort must also go toward bringing the Protocols to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zones treaties into force, responsibility for which lies with the nuclear-weapon states.

3) Call on governments to drastically reduce nuclear weapon and related military spending and to redirect those funds to meet human needs and restore the environment. We commend the US Conference of Mayors for calling on the US Congress to “terminate funding for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex and nuclear weapon systems, to reduce spending on nuclear weapons programs well below Cold War levels, and to redirect funds to meet the urgent needs of cities.” To this end, local and national governments and private citizens could consider divesting funds from entities that support or benefit from nuclear weapons.

4) Demand that governments that are party to nuclear sharing agreements or that hide under nuclear umbrellas reject nuclear weapons as part of their military and security doctrines, concepts and policies. As the Secretary-General said in his message to this conference: “Nuclear disarmament is often dismissed as a dream, when the real fantasies are the claims that nuclear weapons guarantee security or increase a country’s status and prestige.”

5) Demand that governments uphold their nonproliferation commitments under the NPT by ensuring that their nuclear related exports do not directly or indirectly assist the development of nuclear weapons.

6) Call on the Japanese government, which has declared that as the only A-bombed country, it will lead the way to a nuclear-weapon-free world, to take proactive measures to this end. For example, it could invite heads of state, especially of the nuclear-armed states, to a conference in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, where governments and NGOs will confront the future nuclear weapons hold in store for humankind, recognize the urgent need to eliminate these weapons, and work together toward a nuclear weapons convention.

7) Call on national governments and the UN to implement broad programs of nuclear disarmament education as stipulated in the NPT Review Conference final document. In doing so, we urge them to communicate fully the facts about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the message of the hibakusha, with the goal of promoting critical thinking, developing leadership and fostering in young people the determination to abolish nuclear weapons. This education also needs to take place at the local level, in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities. We must develop innovative methods of communicating information about nuclear weapons to new generations.

8) Call on cities and other municipalities to join Mayors for Peace in order to: engage with, empower and educate their citizens about the urgent need to eliminate nuclear weapons; and to encourage their national governments to take proactive measures leading to a nuclear weapons convention.

9) In Japan , help Mayors for Peace to double its membership (now 772) and initiate meetings and seminars for citizens, NGOs, and local authorities in order to demand more effective action toward nuclear abolition by the Japanese government and the United Nations.

10) Strengthen collaboration among Mayors for Peace, Abolition 2000, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the Middle Powers Initiative, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament and other global networks, NGOs and citizens groups. Working toward unity and broad-based participation, our goal is to intensify and strengthen global civil society’s demand for a nuclear weapons convention and concrete nuclear disarmament measures.


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

HIROSHIMA (July 27, 2010) — I am pleased to greet all the participants in the Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020.

Nuclear disarmament is often dismissed as a dream, when the real fantasies are the claims that nuclear weapons guarantee security or increase a country’s status and prestige. The more often countries make such claims, the more likely it will be that others will adopt the same approach.

The result will be insecurity for all. Let us be clear: the only guarantee of safety, and the only sure protection against the use of such weapons, is their elimination.

I thank Mayors for Peace helping to point the way to a world free of nuclear threats. Most of the world’s population today lives in cities. If the mayors of the world are uniting, the world is uniting.

My own five point plan, which I put forward in October 2008 offers a practical approach to the elimination of such weapons, including support for the idea of a nuclear weapons convention. We must also build on the momentum generated by the successful outcome of this year’s NPT Review Conference.

The timeline in the 2020 Vision Campaign to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons is especially important. I have deep admiration for the hibakushas and their determination to tell the world about their experience of the horrors of nuclear weapons.

I urge all leaders, especially those of the nuclear-weapon States, to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to see firsthand the drastic reality caused by nuclear war. I myself will go there in ten days’ time for this year’s peace memorial ceremony, at which I will appeal for urgent steps to advance the disarmament agenda.

I urge you all to intensify your efforts even further. Let us work toward the day when governments no longer have a choice but to respond to the will of the people for a nuclear-free world. Thank you all for your commitment to this great cause.

U.N. Chief Seeks Global Nuclear Disarmament Within Lifetime

(Aug. 3, 2010) — U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday said he would seek the elimination of all nuclear weapons before the end of his life, Kyodo News reported (see GSN, July 19).

Addressing whether he wants a nuclear weapon-free world to be achieved within his lifetime, he said, “That’s my goal.”

Ban also called for the spread of nuclear weapons materials to end “as soon as possible.”

The U.N. leader expressed support for a disarmament time line, promoted by the organization Mayors for Peace, that calls for worldwide nuclear disarmament by 2020. He also backed in principle the group’s goal of convening an international conference next year to negotiate a global nuclear weapons ban (Kyodo News/Breitbart.com, Aug. 2).

Ban is expected to reaffirm his call for a nuclear weapon free-world during a five-day visit to Japan this week. His visit, set to begin today, would mark the 65th anniversary of the US atomic bomb attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Jiji Press reported (Jiji Press, Aug. 2).

US Ambassador to Japan John Roos is slated Friday to attend a ceremony marking the Hiroshima bombing, the first time an envoy from Washington would take part in a remembrance of the event, Agence France-Presse reported.

Roos would lay a wreath at the ceremony “to express respect for all of the victims of World War II,” according to the US State Department (Shingo Ito, Agence France-Presse/Google News, Aug. 3).