Ja­panese PM Abe rapped as Na­gasaki marks 70th an­niver­sary of A-bomb

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY HARUMI OZAWA

Ja­pan on Sun­day marked the 70th an­niver­sary of the atomic bomb­ing of Na­gasaki that claimed more than 74,000 lives, as Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe came un­der fire for his at­tempts to ex­pand the mil­i­tary’s role.

Bells tolled and tens of thou­sands of peo­ple, in­clud­ing ag­ing sur­vivors and the rel­a­tives of vic­tims, ob­served a minute’s si­lence at 11:02 a.m. (0202 GMT), the mo­ment the bomb from a U.S. plane dev­as­tated the port city on Aug. 9, 1945.

Abe laid a wreath at the cer­e­mony, at­tended by rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 75 coun­tries in­clud­ing U.S. Am­bas­sador Caro­line Kennedy.

“As the only coun­try at­tacked with an atomic bomb in war, I am re­new­ing our de­ter­mi­na­tion to lead the global ef­fort for nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment, to cre­ate a world with­out such weapons,” Abe said in his speech.

He promised that Ja­pan would con­tinue to abide by its long-held prin­ci­ples: not pro­duc­ing, pos­sess­ing or al­low­ing nu­clear weapons on Ja­panese ter­ri­tory.

Abe was crit­i­cized

for

fail­ing to men­tion the three prin­ci­ples at a cer­e­mony days ear­lier in Hiroshima, alarm­ing atomic bomb sur­vivors — par­tic­u­larly when the na­tion­al­ist leader is try­ing to push through leg­is­la­tion to ex­tend the mil­i­tary’s role.

Na­gasaki sur­vivor Su­miteru Taniguchi, 86, lashed out at Abe’s gov­ern­ment for try­ing to re­vise the paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion, ac­cus­ing it of re­turn­ing Ja­pan to the sit­u­a­tion be­fore the end of World War II.

“The se­cu­rity bills which the gov­ern­ment is try­ing to push through would jeop­ar­dize our long-time move­ment for nu­clear abo­li­tion and hopes of hi­bakusha (atom-bomb sur­vivors),” he said in a thin voice. “I can­not tol­er­ate the bills.”

Na­gasaki Mayor Tomi­hisa Taue also crit­i­cized the gov­ern­ment as Abe lis­tened.

“Wor­ries and anx­i­eties are now spread­ing among us that this pledge made 70 years ago and the prin­ci­ple for peace in the Ja­panese con­sti­tu­tion may be now un­der­mined,” he said to loud ap­plause.

Abe later met re­porters and de­fended the se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion as nec­es­sary for peace.

“It will send a stronger mes­sage to the world that the Ja­pan-U.S. al­liance func­tions per­fectly, which would make it less likely that Ja­pan would come un­der at­tack,” he said.

Abe has faced crit­i­cism and op­po­si­tion for his at­tempts to ex­pand the role of his paci­fist coun­try’s so-called Self-De­fense Forces.

The changes would al­low them to en­gage in com­bat — in de­fense of an ally which comes un­der at­tack — for the first time since the war.

A con­sti­tu­tion im­posed by a post-war U.S. oc­cu­pa­tion force pre­vented the mil­i­tary from en­gag­ing in com­bat ex­cept in the na­tion’s own self-de­fense.

‘Fat Man’

In the now bustling port city of Na­gasaki, about 74,000 peo­ple died in the ini­tial blast near a ma­jor arms fac­tory from a plu­to­nium bomb nick­named “Fat Man.” Thou­sands of oth­ers per­ished months or years later from ra­di­a­tion sick­ness.

The at­tack on Na­gasaki came three days af­ter the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a bomb, dubbed “Lit­tle Boy,” on Hiroshima in history’s first atomic bomb­ing.

A wall of heat up to 4,000 de­grees Cel­sius — hot enough to melt steel — in­cin­er­ated that city.

The twin bomb­ings dealt the fi­nal blows to im­pe­rial Ja­pan, which sur­ren­dered on Aug. 15, 1945 to bring an end to World War II.

While some his­to­ri­ans say they pre­vented many more ca­su­al­ties which would have re­sulted from a land in­va­sion, crit­ics counter that the at­tacks were not nec­es­sary to end the war, ar­gu­ing that Ja­pan was al­ready head­ing for im­mi­nent de­feat.

At me­mo­rial cer­e­monies

in Hiroshima on Thurs­day, Abe said Ja­pan would sub­mit a fresh res­o­lu­tion call­ing for the abo­li­tion of nu­clear weapons at the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly this year.

This year’s me­mo­ri­als come days ahead of the sched­uled restart­ing of a civil­ian nu­clear re­ac­tor in south­ern Ja­pan — the first to go back on line for two years be­cause of con­cerns fol­low­ing the dis­as­ter at the Fukushima atomic plant in 2011.

While Abe has pushed to switch the re­ac­tors back on, public op­po­si­tion re­mains high af­ter the worst nu­clear ac­ci­dent since Ch­er­nobyl in 1986.

AP / AFP

(Left) A woman cries as she of­fers prayers at the Peace Park be­fore the 70th an­niver­sary of the Na­gasaki atomic bomb­ing in Na­gasaki, south­ern Ja­pan, Sun­day, Aug. 9. (Right) A girl of­fers a prayer for A-bomb vic­tims be­fore lanterns placed at the Peace Me­mo­rial Park in Na­gasaki, on Satur­day, Aug. 8, on the eve of the 70th an­niver­sary of the U.S. atomic bomb­ing of Na­gasaki.

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