This year marks the sixty-sixth anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the worst tragedy ever experienced by humankind. RENGO held peace activities in both cities in order to reconfirm the foolishness of war and the horror of nuclear weapons and to pass on understanding of the preciousness of peace to the next generation. In doing so, RENGO transmitted a pledge for permanent peace to the world.
This year, 66 countries were represented at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, and representatives of 25 countries attended the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony, including Charge d'Affaires James Zumwalt of the US Embassy in Japan, who was the first representative of the US government to attend the ceremony.
2011 Hiroshima Peace Assembly for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
Together with Gensuikin (Japan Congress Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs) and Kakkin (National Council for Peace and Against Nuclear Weapons), RENGO held the 2011 Hiroshima Peace Assembly for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons in Hiroshima on August 4 with the participation of about 6,500 RENGO-affiliated union members and their families from across Japan.
At the beginning, speaking on behalf of the organizers, RENGO General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo said, "Even though 66 years have passed since the atomic bombings, there are still many people who are suffering. RENGO also will act in coordination and solidarity with comrades around the world toward the elimination of the nuclear threat and the realization of permanent peace in the world. As Japan is a country that has experienced atomic bombings, the Japanese government should maintain the three nonnuclear principles [not possessing, manufacturing, or permitting the entry into Japan of nuclear weapons], which is a national policy, and fulfill a positive role in making concrete progress toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, including realization of the 2020 Vision [Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons] proposed by Mayors for Peace." Next, the assembly, through unanimous applause, adopted the Peace Appeal from Hiroshima, expressing RENGO's determination to make efforts toward the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of permanent world peace.
Finally, the assembly came to a close with all participants together singing the song "Genbaku o yurusumaji" ("No More Atomic Bombs").
2011 Nagasaki Peace Assembly for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
Following the peace action in Hiroshima, on August 7 RENGO held the 2011 Nagasaki Peace Assembly for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons in Nagasaki, again together with Gensuikin (Japan Congress Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs) and Kakkin (National Council for Peace and Against Nuclear Weapons). The meeting was attended by about 4,500 people.
Speaking on behalf of the organizers, RENGO President Nobuaki Koga said, "There are over 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and humankind faces the ever-present threat of nuclear weapons. The international community must strongly urge those nuclear weapon states that are not members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to scrap all their nuclear weapons."
An A-bomb sufferer then appealed to the participants, "We A-bomb sufferers have a duty to continue talking about the tragedy. There can be no coexistence between nuclear weapons and humankind. Let's pool our strength with the realization of a convention banning nuclear weapons as our new indicator of world peace."
Participants were heard to make such comments as "For the realization of a peaceful world, it's important to continue talking about the experiences of the A-bomb disaster areas in our workplaces and communities" and "I want to convey to people around the world just how stupid it is to have nuclear weapons."
Around 200,000 lives were lost instantly as a result of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Others escaped death and have survived, but they have had to face the fact that illnesses relating to atomic-bomb radiation, such as leukemia or cancer, could strike anytime. The registers of A-bomb victims, including people who have subsequently died from illnesses caused by the bombings, now list 275,230 persons in Hiroshima and 155,546 persons in Nagasaki.