Role of cities hit by A-bombs increasingly important

It is an extraordinary situation in which the leader of a major power has threatened to use nuclear weapons as a means of intimidation. The importance of the atomic-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in conveying the horrors of nuclear weapons to the world is increasing.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were to mark the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombings on Saturday and Tuesday, respectively.

Ambassadors from about 100 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France, as well as U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, were scheduled to attend a peace memorial ceremony in Hiroshima. The top U.N. official has not attended the ceremony since Ban Ki-moon dis so in 2010.

Meanwhile, Russia, in its invasion of Ukraine, has even attacked a nuclear power plant. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly suggested the use of nuclear weapons. The situation regarding nuclear weapons is facing an unprecedented crisis.

The ceremonies must be used as an opportunity to overcome the difficult situation. The international community must unite to stop Russia’s outrageous acts. In this respect, the memorial days must be used as days to pledge efforts.

The number of visitors to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in fiscal 2021 was just under 410,000, more than 1.3 million fewer than the figure in fiscal 2019, which was the highest number ever recorded. Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the museum was closed for 150 days in fiscal 2021.

In recent years, the museum has been offering online lectures by A-bomb survivors and others so that students can learn about the experiences of people who were impacted by the attack without having to visit the museum. The museum is also making efforts to conduct online seminars for museums overseas. It also should put further efforts into the digitization of artifacts, photographs and other materials, as well as the creation of multilingual materials.

The government plans to contribute $10 million to the United Nations to create a fund and invite young people from around the world to visit the atomic-bombed cities. It is important to prepare for accepting young visitors so that grassroots exchanges can expand.

The average age of atomic bomb survivors is over 84. Last October, Sunao Tsuboi, who served as a chairperson of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations among other roles and was known as an icon of the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima, died at the age of 96.

This fiscal year, the city of Hiroshima began training such people as children and grandchildren of atomic bomb survivors to become “family memory keepers.” The city of Nagasaki is also undertaking similar efforts.

With the cooperation of these relatives, the real voices of atomic bomb survivors must be brought to light to ensure they are passed on to the next generation.

In November, the government will invite political leaders from other countries to Hiroshima to hold an international gathering of eminent persons to discuss nuclear disarmament. A summit meeting of the Group of Seven advanced nations is scheduled for next May in the city. All of these events are good opportunities to have people accurately recognize the reality of the atomic bombings.

While acknowledging nuclear deterrence from the standpoint of security, Japan has been promoting nuclear disarmament by emphasizing the inhumanity of nuclear weapons. It is essential to continue diplomatic efforts with a focus on reality.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 6, 2022)