Peace ceremony represents Hiroshima's long struggle: Fukushima town mayor

Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba attends the peace memorial ceremony in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on Aug. 6. (Mainichi)
Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba attends the peace memorial ceremony in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on Aug. 6. (Mainichi)

HIROSHIMA -- The mayor of a nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima town attended the peace memorial ceremony in this atomic-bombed city on Aug. 6, describing the event as a "ceremony representing Hiroshima's long period of hardship."

Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba made the remarks following his second consecutive attendance at the annual ceremony, amid ongoing evacuation of residents from his town due to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster.

The 64-year-old mayor said it came as no surprise that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe avoided discussing nuclear power during his speech at the ceremony, saying, "There's nothing he could say about nuclear power at that place. It was within the scope of my assumptions."

Last year, Mayor Baba dispatched his town officials to the Hiroshima Municipal Government to gain knowledge about support for A-bomb victims, in order to utilize it in health management of Namie residents who are threatened by potential radiation damage. The mayor said he decided to attend the peace ceremony to convey his feelings of gratitude to the city and to prevent the memory of the Fukushima disaster from fading away among the public.

During an interview with the media at a hotel in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on Aug. 5, Mayor Baba expressed concern about the central government's toned down quest for a breakaway from nuclear power. He also lambasted the Abe administration's promotion of the export of nuclear power technology, saying, "If a nuclear accident occurs in an export destination overseas it would be terrible to see."

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, foreground, and Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba, rear in black suit with glasses, are pictured during the peace memorial ceremony in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on Aug. 6. (Mainichi)
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, foreground, and Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba, rear in black suit with glasses, are pictured during the peace memorial ceremony in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on Aug. 6. (Mainichi)

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the town of Namie was divided into a coastal no-go zone and an inland planned evacuation zone. Since April this year, the town was rezoned into three areas -- a "difficult-to-return zone," a "residency restriction zone" and an "area preparing for the lifting of evacuation orders."

The ceremony was attended by representatives from 70 countries, the third-highest number on record. Among them, representatives from three of the five nuclear superpowers -- the United States, Britain and France -- attended the ceremony for the fourth consecutive year.

In his peace declaration, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui included the experiences of three A-bomb survivors selected from among applicants as well as accounts of two other survivors interviewed by members of the draft committee for the declaration, conveying their struggles over health concerns as well as discrimination in marriage, employment and childbirth.

"Policymakers of the world, how long will you remain imprisoned by distrust and animosity?" the declaration asked, while calling upon them to "make the decision to shift to a system of security based on trust and dialogue." The declaration also described Hiroshima as "a place that embodies the grand pacifism of the Japanese constitution."

Prime Minister Abe, however, failed to declare in his address during the ceremony to "abide by the provisions of the Constitution," which was included in his previous address at the 2007 peace ceremony during his first stint as prime minister.

During the ceremony, Mayor Matsui and two representatives of the bereaved families placed the lists of names of 5,859 A-bomb victims who were confirmed to have died in the past year in a box underneath the cenotaph for the victims, bringing the total number of registered victims of the Hiroshima atomic bombing to 286,818.

August 06, 2013(Mainichi Japan)

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