Address by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Sixty-seven years ago today, an atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, claiming approximately 70,000 precious lives in an instant, and causing unspeakable hardship and suffering for so many people of the city.
Here today, on the occasion of the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony, I reverently pay sincere tribute to the souls of the atomic bomb victims. Furthermore, I express my heartfelt sympathy for those still suffering from the aftereffects of the atomic bomb.
Humankind must never forget the horror of nuclear weapons. Nor must the tragedy that unfolded in Nagasaki and is etched in annals of human history ever be repeated.
As the only country to have experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in war, Japan bears a noble and grave responsibility to all of humankind and to the future of our planet. That responsibility is to pass on the memories of our tragic experiences to future generations and to see to it that the passion and desire for action to realize "a world without nuclear weapons" spreads around all over the world.
Today, 67 years on from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, on behalf of the Government of Japan, I pledge that Japan will observe its Constitution and firmly maintain the Three Non-Nuclear Principles for the sake of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons and the realization of eternal world peace.
With the passage of 67 years, those people who can speak directly about their experiences of the atomic bombing are now advanced in years. We are reaching a stage of critical importance in historical terms with regard to passing on the experiences of the atomic bombing.
Disarmament and non-proliferation education is of the greatest importance as a social foundation from which to renew and refresh memories. Those who implement such education need not necessarily be limited to the public sector. Already a wide range of bodies are engaged in diligent activities, including research and educational institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and the media. Above all, we should always remember that the direct actions of the people of Nagasaki themselves provide a significant driving force. I would like to express my appreciation once again to all of the "Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons" for their activities of travelling to 49 locations around the world to share the experiences of Nagasaki with people overseas. The Government of Japan will continue to highlight the importance of "a world without nuclear weapons" and will push forward with various kinds of efforts to ensure that memories of Japan's atomic bomb experiences are passed on, both across national borders and across generations.
Furthermore, from August 10 to 11, the Global Forum on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education will be held with the cooperation of Nagasaki City and the United Nations University. Members of governments and international organizations, joined by experts and civil society members, are expected to discuss how disarmament and non-proliferation education should be delivered. Together with everyone, we will make further diligent efforts to expand such education in all corners of the world.
The international community is also making steady steps towards the realization of "a world without nuclear weapons". Even among those countries that possess nuclear weapons, last year the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the Russian Federation and the United States of America went into force. Also last year, the draft resolution on nuclear disarmament submitted by Japan to the United Nations General Assembly was adopted by an overwhelming majority. We must continue to develop such actions and ensure that they become a global movement.
We must also always bear foremost in our minds that even today there are people still suffering from the aftereffects of the atomic bomb. With regard to an appropriate model for the recognition system, a group of experts, atomic bomb victim groups, and others concerned engaged in intensive discussions and submitted an interim report in June this year. We will exert every effort to make improvements so that individuals who are waiting to be recognized as having an atomic bomb disease receive recognition as soon as possible. While continuing to listen to the opinions of the atomic bomb victims, we will make improvements to ensure a better system and promote comprehensive support measures.
More than one year has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Many people from Nagasaki have devoted themselves to the rebirth of Fukushima and have provided various kinds of assistance. The Government will spare no effort in the rebuilding of infrastructure for daily life, including decontamination operations, to ensure that the residents of Fukushima who are still enduring discomfort and inconvenience in their everyday activities can return to their normal daily lives as soon as possible. Furthermore, we aim to establish an energy structure in the mid to long term in a form that will be reassuring for the people of Japan, under a basic policy of reducing our dependence on nuclear power.
I would like to conclude my address by offering my heartfelt prayers for the repose of the atomic bomb victims' souls and my best wishes for the future to the atomic bomb survivors and the bereaved families, and for the well-being of all participants today and the people of Nagasaki City.
9 August 2012
Prime Minister of Japan