Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims

This monument was built (August 6, 1952) with the desire to reconstruct Hiroshima─the city destroyed by the world’s first atomic bombing─as a city of peace. It was designed by Kenzo Tange, then a professor at the University of Tokyo. It resembles an ancient arch-shaped house, in part because of the desire to shelter the souls of the victims from the elements. The monument is inscribed with the words, “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.” The stone chest in the center holds the registry of the names of persons who died from the bombing, regardless of nationality. Names are added when persons related to a death make application. As of August 6, 2001, the registry comprises 77 volumes that list a total of 221,893 names. Source

While the world is focused on the upcoming Olympics now, we should not forget the events that happened this week over 60 years ago. Watch these videos and think about the people.

Every year the Japanese government’s Ministry of Cultural Affairs announces the winners of Japan Media Arts Festival Awards. In 2007 the Grand Prize was awarded to Jean-Gabriel Periot, a French director, for his artwork Nijuman no Borei (200 000 Phantoms).

This work is a collage of time which shows about 90-year history of the Atomic Bomb Dome which was opened as a produce museum of Hiroshima in 1915 and became a ruin in the bombing. The work was created by accumulating 1000 still pictures like a frame-by-frame animation.

The next clip is an excerpt from some other documentary film that recounts experience of the victims.

Learn More:
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Hiroshima in Film

63rd Anniversary

Peace activists mark 63rd anniversary of Hiroshima bombing outside U.S. nuclear weapons plant
Thousands mark 63rd anniversary of atomic bombing of Hiroshima
The Challenge of Hiroshima [Article in Japan Times by Hiroshima survivor]
Hibakusha tells story of how atomic bombing led to life of suffering for unborn sister
Thousands remember atomic bombing of Nagasaki on 63rd anniversary
Physicist who helped develop A-bomb reflects on experiences in first visit to Hiroshima

Excerpt from her letter sent to the Federation of American Scientists in 1951:

“The memory of Hiroshima — 150 thousand lives. One, two, three, four, five, six … 150 thousand — each a living, thinking, human being with hopes and desires, failures and successes, a life of his or her own — all gone. And I had held that bomb in my hand.”

Full text of 2008 Hiroshima Peace Declaration

Another August 6, and the horrors of 63 years ago arise undiminished in the minds of our hibakusha, whose average age now exceeds 75. “Water, please!” “Help me!” “Mommy!” — On this day, we, too, etch in our hearts the voices, faces and forms that vanished in the hell no hibakusha can ever forget, renewing our determination that “No one else should ever suffer as we did.”

Because the effects of that atomic bomb, still eating away at the minds and bodies of the hibakusha, have for decades been so underestimated, a complete picture of the damage has yet to emerge. Most severely neglected have been the emotional injuries. Therefore, the city of Hiroshima is initiating a two-year scientific exploration of the psychological impact of the A-bomb experience.

This study should teach us the grave importance of the truth, born of tragedy and suffering, that “the only role for nuclear weapons is to be abolished.”

This truth received strong support from a report compiled last November by the city of Hiroshima. Scientists and other nuclear-related experts exploring the damage from a postulated nuclear attack found once again that the only way to protect citizens from such an attack is the total abolition of nuclear weapons. This is precisely why the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Court of Justice advisory opinion state clearly that all nations are obligated to engage in good-faith negotiations leading to complete nuclear disarmament. Furthermore, even leaders previously central to creating and implementing US nuclear policy are now repeatedly demanding a world without nuclear weapons.

We who seek the abolition of nuclear weapons are the majority. United Cities and Local Governments, which represents the majority of the Earth’s population, have endorsed the Mayors for Peace campaign. One hundred and ninety states have ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. One hundred thirteen countries and regions have signed nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties. Last year, 170 countries voted in favor of Japan’s UN resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Only three countries, the US among them, opposed this resolution. We can only hope that the president of the United States elected this November will listen conscientiously to the majority, for whom the top priority is human survival.

To achieve the will of the majority by 2020, Mayors for Peace, now with 2,368 city members worldwide, proposed in April of this year a Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol to supplement the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This Protocol calls for an immediate halt to all efforts, including by nuclear-weapon states, to obtain or deploy nuclear weapons, with a legal ban on all acquisition or use to follow by 2015. Thus, it draws a concrete road map to a nuclear-weapon-free world. Now, with our destination and the map to that destination clear, all we need is the strong will and capacity to act to guard the future for our children.

World citizens and like-minded nations have achieved treaties banning anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. Meanwhile, the most effective measures against global warming are coming from cities. Citizens cooperating at city level can solve the problems of the human family because cities are home to the majority of the world’s population, cities do not have militaries, and cities have built genuine partnerships around the world based on mutual understanding and trust.

The Japanese Constitution is an appropriate point of departure for a “paradigm shift” toward modeling the world on intercity relationships. I hereby call on the Japanese government to fiercely defend our Constitution, press all governments to adopt the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, and play a leading role in the effort to abolish nuclear weapons. I further request greater generosity in designating A-bomb illnesses and in relief measures appropriate to the current situations of our aging hibakusha, including those exposed in “black rain areas” and those living overseas.

Next month the G8 Speakers’ Meeting will, for the first time, take place in Japan. I fervently hope that Hiroshima’s hosting of this meeting will help our “hibakusha philosophy” spread throughout the world.

Now, on the occasion of this 63rd anniversary Peace Memorial Ceremony, we offer our heartfelt lamentations for the souls of the atomic bomb victims and, in concert with the city of Nagasaki and with citizens around the world, pledge to do everything in our power to accomplish the total eradication of nuclear weapons.

(Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor, The City of Hiroshima)

Full text of 2008 Nagasaki Peace Declaration

We will not forget the atomic cloud that rose into the sky on that fateful day.

On August 9, 1945 at 11:02 a.m., a single atomic bomb dropped by a United States military aircraft exploded into an enormous fireball, engulfing the city of Nagasaki. Unimaginably intense heat rays, blast winds, and radiation; magnificent cathedral crumbling; charred bodies scattered amongst the ruins; people huddled in groups, their skin shredded by countless glass fragments, and the stench of death hung over the atomic wasteland.

Some 74,000 people perished and another 75,000 sustained terrible injuries. Those who somehow survived the blast suffered from poverty and discrimination, threatened even today by the physical and psychological damage caused by radiation exposure.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the city of Nagasaki’s first Honorary Citizen, Dr. Takashi Nagai. Despite sustaining injuries in the atomic blast while at work at Nagasaki Medical College, Dr. Nagai devoted himself as a physician to the relief of the atomic bombing victims, and broadly conveyed the horror of the atomic bomb through written works such as “The Bells of Nagasaki,” even as he himself continued to suffer “radiation sickness.” Dr. Nagai once said, “There is no winning or losing in war; there is only ruin.” His words transcend time in reminding the world of the preciousness of peace and continue today to sound a warning to humankind.

The reverberations of a written appeal entitled “Toward a Nuclear-Free World” are being felt around the world. The authors of this appeal are four men who promoted nuclear policy under successive American presidents: former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn.

These four men now promote their country’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and demand that the U.S. keeps the promises it agreed to at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, calling for the leaders of all the countries in possession of nuclear weapons to work intensively to reduce nuclear weapons with the common aim of creating a world without nuclear weapons.

These appeals mirror those that we have been making repeatedly in Nagasaki — the city that suffered the fate of an atomic bomb.

We made even stronger demands to the nuclear-weapon states. First of all, the U.S. and Russia must take the lead in striving to abolish nuclear weapons. These two countries, which together are said to possess 95 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads, should begin implementing broad reductions of nuclear weapons instead of deepening their conflict over, among others, the introduction of a missile-defense system in Europe. The United Kingdom, France, and China should also fulfill their responsibility to reduce nuclear arms with sincerity.

We also demand that the United Nations and international society do not ignore the nuclear weapons of North Korea, Pakistan, and Israel, as well as the suspicions of nuclear development by Iran, but take stern measures against these countries. Furthermore, India, whose nuclear cooperation with the U.S. is a cause of concern, should be strongly urged to join the NPT and CTBT.

Japan, as a nation that has experienced nuclear devastation, has a mission and a duty to take a leadership role in the elimination of nuclear weapons. To ensure the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the Japanese Government must cooperate with international society to forcefully demand that North Korea completely destroys its nuclear arsenal. Moreover, based on the ideals of peace and renunciation of war prescribed in the Japanese Constitution, the Japanese government should realize the enactment of the Three Non-Nuclear Principles into law and seriously consider the creation of a “Northeast Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone”.

In Nagasaki elderly victims of the atomic bombing tell the story of their experiences even as they continue to endure physical and psychological pain, while young people continue to present petitions calling for the abolishment of nuclear weapons to the United Nations under the slogan of “humble but not helpless.” As guides for peace, the citizens of Nagasaki stand at the site of nuclear devastation and convey the terrible realities of the atomic bombing. Medical workers respond sincerely to the health problems suffered by atomic bomb survivors over a lifetime.

Next year, the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima will join together to host in Nagasaki the General Conference of Mayors for Peace, which has a membership of more than 2,300 cities worldwide. Banding together with cities around the world, we will undertake activities to promote nuclear disarmament in the run up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The city of Nagasaki is also strongly encouraging municipalities throughout Japan that have made anti-nuclear declarations to join us in widening the circle of these activities.

The use of nuclear weapons and war also destroys the global environment. Unless nuclear weapons are abolished, there is no future for humankind. We ask that the people of the world, young people and NGOs, shout out a clear “No!” to nuclear weapons.

Some 63 years have passed since the atomic bombing and the remaining survivors are growing old. We also demand that the Japanese government hastens to provide atomic bomb survivors, residing both in Japan and overseas, with support that corresponds with their reality.

I pray from my heart for the repose of the souls of those who died in the atomic bombing, and pledge to work untiringly for the elimination of nuclear weapons and for the achievement of everlasting world peace.

Tomihisa Taue, Mayor of Nagasaki, August 9, 2008


One thought on “Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s