Hiroshima remembered

Mainichi Shimbun, Monday, 7 August 2000

HIROSHIMA—Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba urged his city to become a mediator actively creating reconciliation Sunday as tens of thousands gathered here to remember the world's first nuclear attack 55 years ago.

Having called on the world to abolish nuclear weapons, Hiroshima wishes to make a new start as a model city demonstrating the use of science and technology for humane purposes, Akiba said. We will push for a 21st century in which Hiroshima's very existence creates a foundation for peace.

On the international stage, Hiroshima aspires to serve as a mediator actively creating reconciliation by helping to resolve conflict and animosity, he told some 50,000 attendees who gathered at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park located near the area directly beneath where the atomic bomb was dropped.

Akiba and two citizens put two books into a room under the arch-shaped cenotaph in the park that list 5,021 people the municipal government has newly recognized as victims of the bombing over the past year.

The roughly 50,000 people who attended the ceremony observed one minute's silence at 8:15 a.m., the exact time that the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

Hiroshima Municipal Government officials said the total number of A-bomb victims is now 217,137, including an estimated 140,000 who died as a direct result of the bombing by the end of 1945.

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori said in an address that (Japan) welcomes the May agreement by a U.N. meeting to review the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to promote the policy of nuclear disarmament.

In that April-May meeting, the world's nuclear powers agreed for the first time to seek an unequivocal undertaking to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Furthermore, Japan has just issued a peace message from Okinawa after urging the leaders of the other Group of Eight powers to reach an agreement to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation in the July 21-23 summit, based on the results of the NPT meeting, Mori said.

Two children designated as representatives also pledged to strive for greater understanding.

Representing the children of Hiroshima as we approach the 21st century, we promise to try to become a bridge toward peace, the children said in unison.

Russian Ambassador to Japan Alexander Panov became the first envoy from a full-fledged nuclear power to join the annual event.

'Protester' arrested

In a related incident, a man who screamed and jumped out at the car in which Mori drove after the ceremony was arrested Sunday morning, police said.

The man, who is refusing to speak to investigators, suddenly burst on to the road, yelling out Mori as the prime minister'hs car passed him by. Guards soon overpowered the unarmed man and police arrested him for forcible obstruction of business. Mori was not injured.