Dropped by the United States in the closing days of World War II, the atomic bomb on Hiroshima took a terrible toll in human lives. Moreover, it was closely followed by the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9.
We should mourn the victims of those two events and renew our commitment to peace.
Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum during the recent G7 Hiroshima Summit. There, they also offered flowers at the cenotaph for the A-bomb victims.
On August 6, representatives from a record 110 countries and the delegation of the European Union (EU) attended the 2023 Peace Memorial Ceremony. It is good that interest in the significance of Hiroshima is increasing.
Nonetheless, we should not forget how perilous the global security environment is at the present time. Russia continues to threaten to use nuclear weapons during its invasion of Ukraine. And the menace from nuclear states surrounding Japan — namely China, Russia, and North Korea ー continues to grow.
Partial Perspective of Hiroshima's Mayor
The Peace Declaration that Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui delivered at the memorial ceremony was released ahead of time. We appreciated how in it he referred to the "spirit" of Hiroshima. It is in line with the language of the declaration approved by attendees at the Hiroshima Summit.
At the same time, in his remarks on August 5, Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged world leaders to acknowledge that the theory of nuclear deterrence is a "folly." In doing so, he blithely ignored the fact that even now the leaders of certain nations are making nuclear threats.
Hiroshima is a city that has directly experienced the horrors wrought by an atomic bomb. Mayor Matsui's call for the abolition of nuclear weapons is to be expected. But simply advocating an ideal does nothing to ensure peace.
Preventing Another Nuclear Attack
The Japanese people need to squarely face a harsh reality if we ardently wish to see nuclear weapons abolished — that is, there will be no way to deter a nuclear attack upon our homeland unless we or our allies possess such weapons.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke in person at the Hiroshima Summit. He said: "Russia must be the last of the invaders. After Russia’s defeat, may only peace flourish."
The Japanese are the only people in any country to have suffered an atomic bombing in wartime. They must never again experience the horrors unleashed by such hugely destructive weapons. Naturally, Japan should urge nuclear powers to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons. However, the Japanese government should also work to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile capabilities.
Furthermore, it has the duty of establishing a nuclear deterrence and civil defense posture to protect Japanese citizens.
Conveying the Misery of Nuclear Weapons
In his book Summer Flower (Natsu no Hana), Hiroshima-born poet and novelist Tamiki Hara describes the utter devastation following the A-Bombing. He used katakana rather than the usual combination of hiragana and Chinese characters since he thought it would better convey his emotions. For him, also, everything changed on the morning of August 6.
At one point in the book, Hara wrote:
Everything that had been was obliterated in a flash.
Hara's life ended after years of writing such poignant lamentations and suffering mental anguish. It is the duty of the Japanese people to convey to the world the utter misery that followed the dropping of the atomic bomb. While mourning the victims, we must also renew our determination to safeguard the nation from threats from nuclear weapons.
That should also be the focus of our remembrance on August 6 and August 9.
- EDITORIAL | After G7 Hiroshima Summit, Take Nuclear Deterrence Seriously
- G7 Hiroshima Leaders Envision the 'World Without Nuclear Weapons'
(Read the editorial in Japanese.)
Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun