THE mayor of Nagasaki marked yesterday’s 72nd anniversary of the US atomic bombing of his city by warning that the threat of nuclear war is growing.
Tomihisa Taue voiced his fears at the annual memorial service for the 70,000 victims of the August 9 1945 attack, three days after the Hiroshima bombing that killed 140,000 people.
The crowd in the Japanese city’s Peace Park observed a minute’s silence at 11.02 am, the exact time when the “Fat Man” plutonium bomb detonated.
“The international situation surrounding nuclear weapons is becoming increasingly tense,” Mr Taue told the gathering.
“A strong sense of anxiety is spreading across the globe that, in the not too distant future, these weapons could actually be used again.”
Mr Taue condemned the nuclear powers — now numbering nine — for their failure to achieve nuclear disarmament decades after the end of the cold war.
“The nuclear threat will not end as long as nations continue to claim that nuclear weapons are essential for their national security,” he said.
The mayor also sharply criticised Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government for what he said were its empty promises about working to achieve a nuclear-free world.
He stressed that Japan’s absence from the United Nations negotiations that led the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted in July, is “incomprehensible to those of us living in the cities that suffered atomic bombings.” None of the nuclear-armed powers have ratified the pact.
The mayor praised the atomic bombing survivors, or “hibakusha,” for their lifelong devotion to the effort to rid the world of such weapons.
He urged Tokyo to change its policy of reliance on the US nuclear umbrella and sign the treaty banning them as soon as possible. Mr Abe delivered a near-identical speech to that he had given in Hiroshima on Sunday, claiming to be committed to “realising a world without nuclear weapons.”
One of the hibakusha, 88-year-old Yoshitoshi Fukahori, said: “Nuclear weapons are incompatible with mankind.” His sister was killed in the city’s annihilation.
He said that as he rushed home the morning after the bombing, the shocking view from the hilltop — his hometown flattened and the landmark Catholic church on fire — had made him burst into tears.