Hiroshima mayor calls for world free of nuclear weapons

August 6th, 2009 - 11:45 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Hiroshima, Aug 6 (DPA) Japan observed the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima Thursday with an appeal for a nuclear weapons-free world.
Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba made an appeal for peace and plugged US President Barack Obama’s call to rid the globe of atomic weapons.

“We support President Obama and have a moral responsibility to act to abolish nuclear weapons,” said the mayor, who also employed the slogan from Obama’s election campaign last year “Yes, we can”.

Akiba’s words also reflected Obama’s when the US president said in his call for a nuclear weapons-free world in April that the US, as the only country to ever use nuclear weapons in war, “has a moral responsibility to act”.

Prime Minister Taro Aso also took part in the ceremony in the western city and said Japan would resolutely stand by its anti-nuclear principles of refusing to make, possess or allow nuclear weapons on its soil.

“I pledge again that Japan will firmly abide by the three non-nuclear principles and lead the international community to achieve the goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons and everlasting peace,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people assembled in Hiroshima for a minute of silence at 8:15 a.m., the moment in 1945 that a US plane dropped the first atomic bomb deployed in war.

An estimated 140,000 people had died there by the end of that year.

It was followed by a second atomic bombing three days later on Nagasaki, the last city to be subjected to nuclear warfare. About 70,000 people died soon after the blast there, and Japan surrendered on Aug 15, 1945.

Decades after the bombings, thousands of people still continue to die every year from the effects of radiation from the blasts, such as leukaemia and other types of cancers.

Nagasaki plans its own memorial ceremony Sunday.

After Hiroshima’s commemorative event, Aso signed a settlement of a six-year-long legal battle between the government and 306 people who had sought to be recognised as suffering from ailments related to the 1945 bombings.

Such recognition allows the patients to receive government aid to cover their medical treatment. The settlement signed Thursday guarantees compensation for the plaintiffs.

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