No matter how many months and years may pass, the memory of Hiroshima lives on in our hearts.
Now, more than half a century since that cataclysm, the world still faces the threat of nuclear weapons. Yet we refuse to abandon hope and will continue to argue that humanity cannot co-exist with nuclear weapons.
Even though the East-West conflict has ended, the nuclear powers maintain their arsenals, and continued dependence on military force prompts distrust and suspicion and does nothing to guarantee our security. Peace is shattered when disputes, poverty, discrimination, and other ills are exacerbated by military force. Nuclear weapons symbolize all the violence that obstructs peace.
Albeit only in general terms, the International Court of Justice has declared the use of nuclear weapons illegal.
Gradually, inexorably, public opinion favoring the elimination of nuclear weapons is spreading worldwide. We hope that this rising tide will compel agreement on a new Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty prohibiting all nuclear explosions, of which there have been more than 2000, and leading to a total ban on nuclear tests. At the same time, however, given the uncertain prospects for the elimination of nuclear weapons, we are deeply concerned that the nuclear powers are consolidating their arsenals.
As the next step, we thus intend to join in solidarity with the entire international community for a universal convention prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons and to work here at home for legislation formalizing Japan's non-nuclear status.
Another urgent imperative in the quest for peace is that of continuing to explain the realities of history's first atomic bombing and to see that these are conveyed across national and generational differences. The experiences, both the lives and the deaths, following the bombing of Hiroshima must be refined so they touch every heart and so that this culture of peace becomes part of humanity's shared legacy.
It is also essential that the extensive documentation on the bombing be archived. I hope that younger generations, far-removed as they are from the wartime realities and the bombing's horrors, will be inspired by the insights and impressions that they draw from the hibakusha testimonies and other documentation.
At the same time, I want to develop policies for supporting the aging hibakusha in Japan and elsewhere, commensurate with their real needs.
Marking the 51st anniversary of the bombing, we here today pay our sincere respects to the souls of the hibakusha who died and we renew our vow to work untiringly for the elimination of all nuclear weapons and for peace. Fully cognizant of Japanese history and in the spirit of the Constitution, I also pledge to work with the people of Hiroshima to make Hiroshima a creative, hopeful city of peace.
Delivered by Takashi Hiraoka
Mayor of Hiroshima