Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for a nuclear weapons-free Japan as he marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, according to Sky News. Mr Abe had come under criticism for not making the same pledge on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing last week, as controversy over a government defence bill rages in the country. “As the only nation in the world to have suffered a war-time nuclear attack, I have renewed my resolve to play a leading role in pursuing a world without nuclear weapons,” he said during the memorial in Nagasaki Peace Park.
Representatives from 75 countries were among those gathered for the memorial. As a bell tolled, they observed a minute of silence at 11.02 am, the time when a US B-29 plane dropped the atomic bomb on 9 August 1945, killing more than 70,000 people. The first atomic bomb in Hiroshima three days earlier killed an estimated 140,000.
Japan surrendered to the Allies days later.Among them is 86-year-old Sumiteru Taniguchi, who has become a campaigner against nuclear weapons and has shown his traumatic injuries as part of his campaign. Mr Abe’s security bills have run into still public opposition. The legislation would ease constitutional limits that restrict the military to self-defence, allowing Japanese forces to defend allies in limited circumstances.
The government says the legislation is needed to increase Japan’s deterrence capabilities in the face of growing threats in the region, but some Nagasaki bomb survivors have said they fear it “will lead to war”. “We cannot accept this,” Mr Taniguchi said. Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, addressing the ceremony, noted the “widespread unease” about the legislation, which has passed the lower house of parliament and is now before the upper house.
“I urge the government of Japan to listen to these voices of unease and concern,” he said. A message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon echoed calls to abolish nuclear weapons. “I wholeheartedly join you in sounding a global rallying cry: no more Nagasakis. No more Hiroshimas,” Mr Ban said.