Nagasaki atomic bombing remembered with calls for Japan to stay off path of war
Survivor and city mayor at anniversary of 1945 nuclear attack warn prime minister Shinzo Abe about the dangers of his plan to lift constraints on military
The city of Nagasaki has marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing with calls to abolish nuclear weapons and halt the Japanese government’s push to loosen restrictions on what its military can do.
With the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, in the audience, a representative of Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors told an annual ceremony that security legislation introduced by Abe’s government went against the wishes of the survivors and “will lead to war”.
“We cannot accept this,” said 86-year-old Sumiteru Taniguchi after describing in graphic detail his traumatic injuries and how others died in the 9 August 1945 attack on Nagasaki.
Representatives from 75 countries, including US ambassador Caroline Kennedy, were among those who gathered under the hot morning sun at Nagasaki Peace Park.
As a bell tolled they observed a minute of silence at 11.02am, the time when a US B-29 plane dropped the atomic bomb, killing more than 70,000 people and helping to prompt Japan’s second world war surrender. The first atomic bomb in Hiroshima three days earlier killed an estimated 140,000.
Abe’s security bills, which he says are needed to increase Japan’s deterrence capabilities in the face of growing threats in the region, have run into stiff public opposition. The legislation would ease constitutional limits that restrict the military to self-defence, allowing Japanese forces to defend allies in limited circumstances.
The Nagasaki mayor, Tomihisa Taue, addressing the same ceremony, noted the “widespread unease” about the legislation, which has passed the lower house of parliament and is before the upper house.
“I urge the government of Japan to listen to these voices of unease and concern,” Taue said.
A message from the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, echoed calls by Taue and others to abolish nuclear weapons.
“I wholeheartedly join you in sounding a global rallying cry: no more Nagasakis. No more Hiroshimas,” Ban said in a message read by Kim Won-soo, the acting UN high representative for disarmament affairs.
Abe, in brief remarks, said that Japan, as the only country to experience nuclear attacks, would seek to play a leading role in realising a world without such weapons.