AUG 6, 2015
HIROSHIMA – Below is the full text of the Peace Declaration delivered
Thursday by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui at the ceremony marking the
70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima:
In our town, we had the warmth of family life, the deep human bonds of
community, festivals heralding each season, traditional culture and
buildings passed down through history, as well as riversides where
At 8:15 a.m., Aug. 6, 1945, all of that was destroyed by a single
atomic bomb. Below the mushroom cloud, a charred mother and child
embraced, countless corpses floated in rivers, and buildings burned to
the ground. Tens of thousands were burned in those flames. By year’s
end, 140,000 irreplaceable lives had been taken, that number including
Koreans, Chinese, Southeast Asians, and American prisoners of war.
Those who managed to survive, their lives grotesquely distorted, were
left to suffer serious physical and emotional aftereffects compounded
by discrimination and prejudice. Children stole or fought routinely to
survive. A young boy rendered an A-bomb orphan still lives alone; a
wife was divorced when her exposure was discovered. The suffering
“Madotekure!” This is the heartbroken cry of hibakusha who want
Hiroshima — their hometown, their families, their own minds and bodies
— put back the way it was.
One hundred years after opening as the Hiroshima Prefectural
Commercial Exhibition Hall and 70 years after the atomic bombing, the
A-bomb Dome still watches over Hiroshima. In front of this witness to
history, I want us all, once again, to face squarely what the A-bomb
did and embrace fully the spirit of the hibakusha.
Meanwhile, our world still bristles with more than 15,000 nuclear
weapons, and policymakers in the nuclear-armed states remain trapped
in provincial thinking, repeating by word and deed their nuclear
intimidation. We now know about the many incidents and accidents that
have taken us to the brink of nuclear war or nuclear explosions.
Today, we worry as well about nuclear terrorism.
As long as nuclear weapons exist, anyone could become a hibakusha at
any time. If that happens, the damage will reach indiscriminately
beyond national borders. People of the world, please listen carefully
to the words of the hibakusha and, profoundly accepting the spirit of
Hiroshima, contemplate the nuclear problem as your own.
A woman who was 16 at the time appeals: “Expanding ever wider the
circle of harmony that includes your family, friends and neighbors
links directly to world peace. Empathy, kindness, solidarity — these
are not just intellectual concepts; we have to feel them in our
bones.” A man who was 12 emphasizes: “War means tragedy for adults and
children alike. Empathy, caring, loving others and oneself — this is
where peace comes from.”
These heartrending messages, forged in a cauldron of suffering and
sorrow, transcend hatred and rejection. Their spirit is generosity and
love for humanity; their focus is the future of humankind.
Human beings transcend differences of nationality, race, religion and
language to live out our one-time-only lives on the planet we share.
To coexist we must abolish the absolute evil and ultimate inhumanity
that is nuclear weapons. Now is the time to start taking action. Young
people are already starting petition drives, posting messages,
organizing marches and launching a variety of efforts. Let’s all work
together to build an enormous groundswell.
In this milestone 70th year, the average hibakusha is now over 80
years old. The city of Hiroshima will work even harder to preserve the
facts of the bombing, disseminate them to the world and convey them to
coming generations. At the same time, as president of Mayors for
Peace, now with more than 6,700 member cities, Hiroshima will act with
determination, doing everything in our power to accelerate the
international trend toward negotiations for a nuclear weapons
convention and abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.
Is it not the policymakers’ proper role to pursue happiness for their
own people based on generosity and love of humanity? Policymakers
meeting tirelessly to talk — this is the first step toward nuclear
weapons abolition. The next step is to create, through the trust thus
won, broadly versatile security systems that do not depend on military
might. Working with patience and perseverance to achieve those systems
will be vital, and will require that we promote throughout the world
the path to true peace revealed by the pacifism of the Japanese
The summit meeting to be held in Japan’s Ise-Shima next year and the
foreign ministers’ meeting to be held in Hiroshima prior to that
summit are perfect opportunities to deliver a message about the
abolition of nuclear weapons. President Obama and other policymakers,
please come to the A-bombed cities, hear the hibakusha with your own
ears, and encounter the reality of the atomic bombings. Surely, you
will be impelled to start discussing a legal framework, including a
nuclear weapons convention.
We call on the Japanese government, in its role as bridge between the
nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon states, to guide all states toward
these discussions, and we offer Hiroshima as the venue for dialogue
and outreach. In addition, we ask that greater compassion for our
elderly hibakusha and the many others who now suffer the effects of
radiation be expressed through stronger support measures. In
particular, we demand expansion of the “black rain areas.”
Offering our heartfelt prayers for the peaceful repose of the A-bomb
victims, we express as well our gratitude to the hibakusha and all our
predecessors who worked so hard throughout their lives to rebuild
Hiroshima and abolish nuclear weapons. Finally, we appeal to the
people of the world: renew your determination. Let us work together
with all our might for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the
realization of lasting world peace.