Tomihisa Taue also appeals to the United States and Russia. Representatives from some 70 countries attended the ceremony this morning. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised that Japan will be a "bridge between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states".
Nagasaki (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The city of Nagasaki, in the region of Kyūshū, today stopped to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing. During the annual ceremony at the Peace Memorial, Mayor Tomihisa Taue renewed his appeal to the Japanese government for Tokyo to immediately sign a United Nations (UN) treaty banning nuclear weapons.
Representatives of about 70 countries were present at the memorial ceremony, including all five recognized nuclear powers - the United Kingdom, China, France, Russia and the United States - as well as the UN and the European Union (EU). In the annual Declaration of Peace, Mayor Taue stressed that "being the only country in the world to have suffered the devastation caused by nuclear weapons, Japan must sign and ratify the Treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons as soon as possible". Taue had appealed for authorities to sign the international agreement at two previous annual ceremonies, but this year he used a stronger and more direct expression.
As a step towards accession, the mayor has invited Japan "to seize the trend toward denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and to initiate efforts to make Northeast Asia a nuclear-free zone where all countries coexist under, not a 'nuclear umbrella,' but a 'non-nuclear umbrella". Taue added that He also said the world is now in an "extremely dangerous" situation as the opinion that nuclear weapons are useful is "once again gaining traction" and the danger of a nuclear calamity is "mounting." The anniversary ceremonies in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki were held amid concern about a new arms race following the United States' formal withdrawal last week from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed with Russia in 1987. Taue called on the United States and Russia to "assume responsibility as nuclear superpowers" by setting a specific course to "drastically reduce nuclear stockpiles."
Among the most authoritative voices against nuclear weapons is that of Pope Francis. The pontiff will visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki on November 24, on the occasion of his four-day apostolic trip to Japan. The pontiff will offer prayers for the victims of atomic attacks. According to rumors, the Pope plans to meet the atomic bomb survivors on the second day of his visit, which opens on November 23rd. Francis' visit would be the second journey of a pontiff to the Land of the Rising Sun, after John Paul II in February 1981.
Nagasaki is the city of Japan with the greatest Christian tradition. Two days ago, after 74 years, local Catholics were able to welcome the cross that crowned the Urakami cathedral at the time of the nuclear explosion. Walter Hooke, a US marine stationed in Nagasaki after the war, received the cross from Archbishop Paul Aijiro Yamaguchi. In 1982, Hooke donated the cross to the Peace Resource Center (Rpc) at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio (USA). The university returned the cross to Archbishop Mitsuaki Takami two days ago. This evening the dedication ceremony will take place, at the end of which the cross will be exposed to the public.