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Nagasaki urges gov't to do more to eliminate nuclear weapons


Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue criticized the government Friday for its recent inaction in opposing nuclear weapons and urged it to show leadership as the world's only atomic-bombed country, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to push for the abolition of nuclear weapons on the 68th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of the city.

"I call on the Japanese government to consider once again that Japan is the only country to have suffered a nuclear bombing," Taue said twice in his latest Peace Declaration delivered at a ceremony in the city's Peace Park, attended by representatives of over 40 countries.

He also said Tokyo's failure to sign a statement rejecting the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances at an international meeting in April is "betraying the expectations of global society" and "implies that the government would approve of their use under some circumstances."

Taue also expressed worries over the resumption of Japan-India negotiations for a nuclear cooperation agreement, saying such cooperation with India, a de facto nuclear power which has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, would render "meaningless" the NPT regime and give North Korea "an excuse to justify" its nuclear development.

Abe, for his part, pledged Japan will make every effort for the eradication of nuclear weapons, as he did during a ceremony Tuesday in Hiroshima commemorating the 1945 atomic bombing of the city.

On the government's decision not to endorse the joint statement supported by 80 countries at the preparatory committee session in Geneva for the next NPT review meeting, Abe said in a press conference in Hiroshima that "the severe reality in which North Korea has been implementing nuclear development" had an influence.

The speeches at Friday's ceremony came after participants offered silent prayers for the victims at 11:02 a.m., the time the bomb detonated over Nagasaki.

Representing the "hibakusha" atomic bomb survivors, Shohei Tsuiki, 86, who was then 18, said what he saw after the bombing was "just a scene from hell" filled with people without ears and noses, with burnt skin dangling from their bodies, or holding their dead children.

"It is obvious that nuclear power and human beings cannot coexist," he said, referring to the Fukushima nuclear crisis as well as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "I ask the government to take action sincerely and proactively toward the elimination of nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants."

Nuclear powers Britain, France and the United States were represented, along with India as a first-time attendee among de facto nuclear powers that are not NPT signatories.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos who became the first U.S. ambassador to attend Hiroshima's memorial ceremony in 2010, also attended the Nagasaki ceremony for the second time.

Three days after Hiroshima was devastated by an atomic bomb dropped by a U.S. B-29 bomber, the United States dropped another on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. An estimated 74,000 people were killed in the blast and its immediate aftermath in a city with a population of about 240,000.

In his speech, Taue said Nagasaki "supports" U.S. President Barack Obama's desire to seek a nuclear-free world, expressed in Prague in April 2009, and his statement to work towards reduction of nuclear arsenals in June this year.

But touching on the reality that at least 90 percent of over 17,000 nuclear warheads still in existence belong to either the United States or Russia, Taue said, "President Obama, President (Vladimir) Putin, please commit your countries to a speedy drastic reduction of your nuclear arsenal."

Taue highlighted the importance of imparting the experience of atomic devastation to future generations and called on the government to provide better support for aging atomic bomb survivors, while pledging Nagasaki's continued support for the people of Fukushima following the nuclear disaster that began in March 2011.

Other attendees included Oscar-winning U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone, who made a documentary series examining why the bombs were dropped, and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, a Hiroshima native, who was the first Japanese foreign minister to attend the Nagasaki ceremony.

The number of survivors, or hibakusha, officially recognized by the city stood at 37,574, with an average age of 78.2, as of the end of March. The city has confirmed 3,404 hibakusha died in the past year, raising the official total of registered deaths to 162,083.