Nagasaki prays for peace

Mainichi Shimbun, Thursday 10 August 2000

NAGASAKI—Mayor Iccho Ito, commemorating the 55th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city on Aug. 9, 1945, urged nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on Wednesday to lead the way in creating a nuclear-free world.

Speaking to 28,000 people at a remembrance ceremony held at the Nagasaki Peace Park, Ito recollected the horrors of the atomic-bomb, which killed 74,000 people instantaneously. In the intervening years many thousands more have died from radiation-related sicknesses, with the current total standing at 124,191.

When the atomic bomb exploded, heat rays with an intensity of several thousand degrees Celsius burned people's bodies ... radiation invaded and destroyed people's cells and tissue, resulting in yet more deaths (later), Ito said.

He added that most of those who perished were noncombatants, including women, children, the elderly, foreign nationals from China and the Korean Peninsula, and Allied POWs.

The people of the world must unite in an effort to place the nuclear age firmly in the past, Ito said.

The mayor expressed his hope that Nagasaki Global Citizens' Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, an international NGO conference to be held in November in the city, would help bring a nuclear-free world one step closer.

Nagasaki will also take new strides of its own. But now is the time to assemble and harness the capabilities of the world's NGOs to push us along the road to nuclear abolition, Ito said.

Abolition 2000, a global network of some 180 peace organizations aiming to eliminate nuclear weapons, and many Japanese NGOs, will take part in the event.

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who attended the ceremony, failed to respond when Ito said that the government must face up to its past aggression and address the unresolved issues, such as the suffering of victims of Japan's war effort, before it can take a leading role in the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons.

The three non-nuclear principles [not to make, posess or let others bring such weapons into Japan] should be made law as a preliminary step to establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in northeast Asia, Ito said.