Nagasaki remembered with call for ban on nuclear weapons
Shinzo Abe calls for world ‘without nuclear weapons’ on anniversary of atomic bombing
Visitors offer prayers for victims killed by the atomic bombing in 1945 before the Peace Memorial Ceremony at Nagasaki Peace Park in Nagasaki, southwestern Japan. Photograph: Kimmasa Mayama/EPA
The Japanese prime minister had been criticised for not making the same pledge on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing last week.
Survivors of the atomic bombing attended the annual commemoration in the southern Japanese city along with international guests and others.
They observed a moment of silence at 11.02am local time, which is when the US dropped the atomic bomb, killing more than 70,000 people and prompting Japan’s second world world war surrender.
The first atomic bomb in Hiroshima three days earlier killed 140,000 people.
“As the only nation in the world to have suffered a war-time nuclear attack, I have renewed my resolve to play a leading role in pursuing a world without nuclear weapons and maintain the three non-nuclear principles,” Mr Abe said in the Nagasaki Peace Park.
The “three non-nuclear principles” are Japan’s long-standing policy of not possessing or producing nuclear arms and not letting others bring them into the country.
Japan’s defence minister triggered a new row over controversial security legislation on Wednesday when he said the bills under consideration by parliament would not rule out the military transporting the nuclear weapons of foreign forces.
Mr Abe’s cabinet adopted a resolution last year reinterpreting the pacifist constitution, drafted by Americans after the second world war, to let Japan exercise collective self-defence, or defend an ally under attack.
The unpopular bills have already passed the lower house and Mr Abe’s ruling bloc has a majority in the upper house as well. But surveys show a majority of voters are opposed to what would be a significant shift in Japan’s defence policy.
Japanese media reported that Mr Abe will not visit Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni shrine for the war dead on August 15th, which marks the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender to the Allies.
Even if the premier stays away from Yasukuni, he may still come under scrutiny if he omits an apology in a statement expected to be released later this week marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat.
Mr Abe has said the statement will express “remorse” for Japan’s war-time actions but domestic media reported over the weekend that the word “apology” will not be included.
Mr Abe’s remarks are being closely watched by China and South Korea, where bitter memories of Japan’s wartime occupation and colonisation run deep, and by Tokyo’s close ally Washington.