The Mayor of Nagasaki launched a blistering attack on Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, accusing him of not doing enough to abolish nuclear weapons as the country marked the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of his city.
Tomihisa Taue told an audience at the city’s Peace Park today that Japan’s failure to sign an international accord rejecting the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances “betrayed the expectations of global society”.
Earlier this week, Mr Abe said Japan had a “responsibility to realise” a nuclear-free world but then surprised reporters by defending Tokyo’s refusal in April to sign a UN pledge to never use the A-bomb.
He justified the apparent contradiction by saying Japan faced a “severe security environment” living so close to North Korea, which carried out its third nuclear test this year. The pledge was also snubbed by Russia, India, Pakistan and the US – all nuclear powers. It is considered largely symbolic, but as the world’s only A-bomb victim, Japan was expected to sign.
Mr Taue said Mr Abe’s comment “implies that the government would approve of their use under some circumstances”.
Japan does not have nuclear weapons but shelters under the US nuclear umbrella.
About 6,000 people, including the US ambassador to Japan John Roos, gathered yesterday to hear Mr Taue’s speech, commemorating the destruction of Nagasaki by a US plutonium bomb on 9 August 1945.
About 70,000 people were instantly killed in the blast. Thousands more died later from the effects of radiation.