On Anniversary of Atomic Bombing, Japan Fails to Press for Nuclear Disarmament
August 10, 2013
Nagasaki's mayor has criticized Japan's government for failing to back an international nuclear disarmament effort as the country marked the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of his city. Mayor Tomihisa Taue said Japan's inaction "betrayed expectations of the global community." In April, Japan refused to sign an unconditional United Nations pledge -- endorsed by nearly 80 countries -- to never resort to the use nuclear weapons.
Remembering the US Bombing of Nagasaki
Howard Zinn / Voices for a Nuclear-Free Future
(August 9, 2013) -- On the morning of August 9, 1945, 68 years ago, the second four and a half ton atomic bomb containing a few pounds of Hanford plutonium nicknamed "FAT MAN" was carried to Japan in the US B-29 "Bock's Car" and dropped on Nagasaki.
If the word "terrorism" has a useful meaning (and I believe it does, because it marks off an act as intolerable, since it involves the indiscriminate use of violence against human beings for some political purpose), then it applies exactly to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The sociologist Kai Erikson, reviewing the report by the Japanese team of scientists, wrote: "The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not 'combat' in any of the ways that word is normally used. Nor were they primarily attempts to destroy military targets, for the two cities had been chosen not despite but because they had a high density of civilian housing.
Whether the intended audience was Russian or Japanese or a combination of both, then the attacks were to be a show, a display, a demonstration. They question is: What kind of mood does a fundamentally decent people have to be in, what kind of moral arrangements must it make, before it is willing to annihilate as many as a quarter of a million human beings for the sake of making a point.
Let's leave aside the phrase "a fundamentally decent people," which raises troubling questions: Are Americans more deserving of that description than others? Are not all atrocities committed by "fundamentally decent people" who have been maneuvered into situations that derange the common sense of morality of ALL human beings?
Rather, let's examine the question properly raised by Kai Erikson, a question enormously important precisely because it does not permit us to dismiss horrors as acts inevitably committed by horrible people. It forces us to ask: what "kind of mood," what "moral arrangement" would cause "us" -- in whatever society we live, with whatever "fundamental decency" we possess -- to either perpetrate (as bombardiers, or atomic scientists, or political leaders), or to just "accept" (as obedient citizens), the burning of children in vast numbers."
On Atomic Bomb Anniversary,
Nagasaki Mayor Says Japan
Failing to Push Disarmament
Associated Press & Washington Post
TOKYO (August 9, 2013) -- Nagasaki's mayor criticized Japan's government on Friday for failing to back an international nuclear disarmament effort as the country marked the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of his city.
Mayor Tomihisa Taue said Japan's inaction "betrayed expectations of the global community."
Japan refused in April to sign an unconditional pledge by nearly 80 countries to never use nuclear weapons.
The document, prepared by a UN committee, is largely symbolic because none of the signatories possesses nuclear weapons. Countries with nuclear arsenals that have not signed it include the United States, Russia, India and Pakistan.
Japan does not have nuclear weapons and has pledged not to produce any, although some hawkish members of the ruling party say the country should consider a nuclear option.
Taue said that as the world's only victim of atomic bombings, Japan's refusal to join the initiative contradicts its non-nuclear pledge.
"I call on the government of Japan to return to the origin of our pledge as an atomic-bombed country," he said at the peace park near the epicenter of the 1945 blast.
Tokyo apparently refused to sign the document because of its security arrangement with the United States, which could allow the US an option to deploy nuclear weapons from Japan to counter the threat of North Korea.
That suggests that Japan's government would approve the use of nuclear weapons under some circumstances, Taue said.
About 6,000 people, including US Ambassador John Roos, attended Friday's ceremony after offering silent prayers for the victims of the US atomic bombings -- on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, and on Hiroshima three days earlier. The bombings prompted Japan's surrender in World War II. The Hiroshima blast killed an estimated 140,000 people, and another 70,000 died in Nagasaki.
Opposition to nuclear power in Japan has risen sharply after a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami ravaged the Fukushima nuclear plant, which spewed radiation and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
Despite the public's safety concerns, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is aggressively pushing to export nuclear plants and technology to developing countries, including Turkey and Vietnam, and is trying to step up nuclear cooperation with France and India.
In a speech at the ceremony, Abe did not mention the dilemma Japan is facing over nuclear energy.
He said Japan as the sole victim of nuclear attacks has the duty to achieve a nuclear-free world and keep telling the world of the inhumane side of nuclear weapons.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.