Hiroshima Hits 'Pax Americana' at A-Bomb
Mon Aug 5, 8:19 PM ET
By Eriko Sugita
HIROSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) - The mayor of Hiroshima marked the
anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing with a sharp rebuke
for what critics charge is President Bush ( news
sites)'s unilateral diplomacy -- and an invitation to Bush to
visit the city destroyed in a nuclear inferno 57 years ago.
In an annual ritual of remembrance for the more than 220,000
people who ultimately died from the blast, a crowd including
survivors, children and dignitaries gathered at Hiroshima's Peace
Park, near ground zero where the bomb was dropped.
The anniversary comes days after a reminder that Japan -- which
has made much of its status as the only nation to suffer a nuclear
attack -- was researching an atomic bomb during World War II, and
just months after a top politician hinted Tokyo might someday
abandon its decades-old ban on nuclear weapons.
The Peace Bell tolled at 8:15 a.m. -- the precise moment the
Enola Gay B-29 warplane dropped the bomb on August 6, 1945 -- as the
crowd stood and bowed their heads for a minute of silence in the
still summer heat.
The United States dropped a second atomic bomb on the southern
city of Nagasaki on August 9.
Six days later, Japan surrendered.
Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba lamented the world's growing
tendency to forget the horrors of the atomic bomb and warned his
audience that the dangers of nuclear war were rising.
"For the victims of the atomic bomb...once again, a hot and
bitter summer has returned," Akiba said. "With the return of the
heat, the memories of that misery also return.
"What is even more bitter is that those memories are fading from
the world," he said. He added that the possibility of history's
repeating itself had grown since the September 11 attacks on New
York and Washington.
Akiba invited Bush to Hiroshima "to confirm with his own eyes
what nuclear weapons can do to human beings" and lashed out at
Washington's go-it-alone stance.
"America has not been given the right to impose a 'Pax Americana'
and to decide the fate of the world," Akiba said.
"Rather, we, the people of the world, have the right to insist
that we have not given you the authority to destroy the world."
JAPAN'S NUCLEAR STANCE
While Japan each year solemnly mourns its own war dead, less
attention is paid to the victims of its military aggression and
hardly any to the fact that its own military was engaged in research
on an atomic bomb during World War II.
In a small but timely reminder of that research, the Asahi
Shimbun newspaper said at the weekend that secret documents on
Japan's nuclear efforts, taken out of the country in 1949, had been
returned to the institute in charge of the research.
Historians have long known about the research, although how much
progress was made is a subject of debate.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pledged at the memorial to keep
Japan's decades-old ban on nuclear weapons -- a stance which was
called into question earlier this year when one of his key cabinet
ministers suggested the policy might change someday.
"Resolved not to repeat the calamities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
our nation -- the only one to experience an atomic bombing -- has
obeyed our peace constitution and preserved its three non-nuclear
principles not to have, make or import nuclear weapons," Koizumi
"There is no change in that stance."
Conservative politicians, however, have become more outspoken in
challenging Japan's postwar pacifism and recent legislation has
tested the limits on the ban on war imposed by the U.S.-drafted
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, a close Koizumi aide, came
under fire in June for hinting Japan might revise its "three
non-nuclear principles" adopted in 1971.
Fears over domestic and diplomatic fallout have usually meant
that politicians are forced to retract any suggestion Japan should
arm itself with nuclear weapons. Fukuda later said his remarks had
been blown out of proportion.