Hiroshima sides with Obama on nukes

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba urged people around the world to join the city’s effort to abolish atomic weapons in response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s appeal for a world free of nuclear arms, as Hiroshima marked the 64th anniversary of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing Thursday.

“We support President Obama and have a moral responsibility to act to abolish nuclear weapons,” Akiba said in the Peace Declaration at a commemorative ceremony at the city’s Peace Memorial Park, reiterating Hiroshima’s conviction that “the only role for nuclear weapons is to be abolished.”

“To emphasize this point,” said Akiba, “we refer to ourselves, the great global majority, as the ‘Obamajority,’ and we call on the rest of the world to join forces with us to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020. The essence of this idea is embodied in the Japanese Constitution, which is ever more highly esteemed around the world.

“We have the power. We have the responsibility. And we are the Obamajority,” he said. “Together, we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can.”

In April, Obama said in Prague that “the United States has a moral responsibility to act” as the only nuclear power to have used atomic weapons and the country will “take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons.”

During the 50-minute memorial ceremony, a moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima at an altitude of about 600 meters 64 years ago, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 140,000 people by the end of 1945.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, a total of 235,569 survivors were living throughout Japan as of March 31, down 8,123 from the year before, with their average age at 75.92, while some 4,500 hibakusha live overseas.

Prime Minister Taro Aso attended the ceremony, vowing to strongly stand by Japan’s three antinuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on its soil.

On the previous day, the prime minister and health minister Yoichi Masuzoe struck a deal to provide relief to all 306 plaintiffs who sued to be recognized as suffering from illnesses related to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing their legal battle, which has been fought in courts across Japan since 2003, effectively to an end.