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Nagasaki mayor urges Japan to ratify nuclear arms ban treaty

Nagasaki, Aug. 9 (Jiji Press)–Nagasaki marked the 76th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the southwestern Japan city on Monday, with its mayor urging the central government to ratify the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at an early date.


An annual memorial ceremony held at a park near the epicenter of the nuclear attack was attended by about 500 people, including hibakusha survivors of the bombing, victims’ family members and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Representatives of 63 countries including seven nuclear states, as well as the United Nations and the European Union, were also among the attendees.


The seven nuclear states are the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India and Israel. Pakistan did not send a representative to the ceremony.


Participants observed a minute of silence from 11:02 a.m. (2:02 a.m. GMT), the time when the atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, three days after Hiroshima, western Japan, suffered the same fate, near the end of World War II.


In the Nagasaki Peace Declaration he read out at the memorial ceremony, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue said, “As the country that is most aware of the tragic consequences of nuclear weapons, please join as observers the first meeting of state parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in order to look into ways to develop this treaty.”


“In addition, please sign” the treaty and “see to its ratification at the earliest possible date,” he also said.


The U.N. treaty came into force in January this year, and the meeting will be held in Vienna in January 2022.


After expressing a sense of crisis over the military buildup of nuclear states, Taue called for “greater steps by the United States and Russia to reduce nuclear weapons.”


“Hiroshima will eternally be remembered in history as the first place to suffer an atomic bombing, but whether Nagasaki continues to take its place in history as the last place to suffer an atomic bombing depends on the future we build for ourselves,” he said.


Representing hibakusha, Nobuko Oka, 92, delivered a speech to pledge peace, in which she reflected on her experience of working as a student nurse in the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Nagasaki and appealed for a world without nuclear weapons.


In his address, Suga stressed the need for countries to step up efforts to create a common foundation by dispelling distrust through mutual engagement and dialogue.”


“We are determined to continue working to inherit memories of the sufferings from the use of nuclear weapons,” Suga said. He did not make any reference to the nuclear arms ban treaty.


Like last year, the number of participants at the ceremony was reduced to about 10 pct of usual years in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. A chorus by hibakusha before the opening ceremony was canceled.


Rolls listing the names of 3,202 hibakusha who were confirmed dead over the year to the end of July were devoted to the ceremony, bringing the total number of deaths from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki to 189,163. Water and flowers were offered for the victims.

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