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Nagasaki mayor: Adopt nuke-ban treaty

August 9, 2019

Nagasaki's mayor has urged Japan's government to adopt the UN's 2017 nuclear arms prohibition treaty. Speaking on the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing, he also slammed the US and Russia for developing new warheads.

Nagasaki residents attend a memorial service to mark the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Press

Mayor Tomihisa Taue told mourners at Nagasaki's 74th anniversary of its devastation by a US World War II bomb that nuclear weapons must be eliminated.

The bombing on August 9, 1945 — three days after a similar device devastated Hiroshima — killed some 70,000 people in Nagasaki and was followed by Japan's surrender, which ended World War II in the Pacific.

"The atomic bombs were built by human hands and exploded over human heads," said Taue, while urging world leaders to visit his city and learn firsthand the weapons' inhumane consequences.

"It follows that nuclear weapons can be eliminated by an act of human will," said Taue.

He also urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was present in Nagasaki's Peace Park among some 6,000 people, to sign and ratify the 2017 UN treaty "as soon as possible."

Survivors and other participants marked the 11:02 a.m. blast with a minute of silence.

Mayor of Nagasaki Tomihisa Taue
Mayor Taue deplored nuclear adherenceImage: Imago Images/Kyodo News

Prohibition Treaty lacks ratification

The UN's Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) so far has only 25 of 50 ratifications needed to come into force.

The treaty was launched by 122 nations at a New York conference in July 2017 by vote and has been signed by 70 of them, but it has faced resistance from the US, Russia and other nations possessing nuclear arms.

Taue described the current situation as "extremely dangerous," warning that nuclear weapons development was "once again gaining traction."

Visiting Hiroshima on Wednesday, Abe had vowed to maintain Japan's pacifist and nuclear nuclear-free principles but did not promise to sign the treaty.

On August 2, Washington and Moscow let their 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) run out, prompting anti-nuclear advocates to warn that both might also fail to extend a larger New START treaty when it expires in 2021.

'Face up to responsibility'

Last week, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged both countries to preserve START while also urging nuclear powers such as China to "face up to their responsibility."

At Büchel, an air base in Germany's Eifel region, protesters were due Friday, in line with the Nagasaki remembrance, to end weeks of summer campaigning against the presumed bunkering of 20 American nuclear warheads.

ICAN receives Nobel Peace Prize

The Missouri-based museum for wartime US President Harry Truman documents how the decision to bomb Japan was made in Potsdam, near Berlin, in July 1945 while Truman was attending talks with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Estimated 15,000 weapons

There are some 15,000 nuclear weapons globally.

"These weapons should be abolished once and for all," Austrian Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein said on Tuesday as the world recalled the initial US bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Hiroshima's immediate death toll was put at 140,000. Tens of thousands died later from radiation fallout and other injuries.

ipj/amp (dpa, epd, AP, Reuters)

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