Print Version    Email to Friend
Call for freeedom from fear of radiation

HONG KONG (SE): On the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, August 9, the mayor of the city, Tomihisa Taue, added his voice to the call from the bishops of Japan for a world free from the fear of radioactivity, during a ceremony at the city’s peace park to mark the 1945 attack.

He called on the government in Tokyo to move away from the use of nuclear fuel for the production of power and instead promote new energy sources to replace the country’s reliance on nuclear reactors.

He pledged that the people of Nagasaki would continue to support the call of those who are suffering from the March 11 nuclear spill in Fukushima last year in their call to address the problem of the piled up radioactive waste that is currently stored in the area.

In Hiroshima, the Church conducted a series of activities at the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace between August 5, the day prior to the anniversary of the bombing, and the August 9 anniversary of the destruction of Nagasaki.

UCA News reported that the programme began with about 500 people walking through the main street of the city with banners and placards reading, World Peace and End Nuclear Power.

Beginning at the Hiroshima Peace Park, the people processed to the Peace Cathedral for a symposium on putting an end to nuclear generation of power, not only in Japan, but the whole world.

A Korean, who survived the nuclear blast in 1945, addressed the symposium, together with some women from Fukushima, who, with their children, had fled the area in the wake of the radioactive spill at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The day concluded with a Mass for peace in the cathedral, which was designed and built by German Jesuit Father Hugo La Salle and features a large phoenix symbolically clinging to the place of honour, normally reserved for a crucifix or the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the highpoint of the cathedral dome, proudly evoking the memory of the prophecy of the post-war mayor, Shinzo Hamai, that “Hiroshima will rise like a phoenix from the ashes.”

The church itself, built from concrete in the shape of a medieval fortress, is guarded by a 56-metre tower, signifying Father LaSalle’s dedication to zen meditation, as well as being home to the four giant peace bells, donated by Pope John Paul II during his 1981 visit to the church, that ring out their message of peace in the now-beautiful, peaceful city of parks and rivers.

On the August 6 anniversary day itself, around 400 people attended a Mass celebrated by Bishop Man’yo Maeda for the victims of nuclear weapons and wars the world over. At 8.15am, the time that the bomb exploded, a minute’s silence was observed.

Bishop Sueo Hamaguchi reflected during the Mass that the events of last year, including the meltdown at Fukushima, are a good illustration of the errors of the way of our world, pointing especially to what he called the arrogance of human pride.

A Mass was also celebrated in Hiroshima on the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, during which prayers were offered for the 80,000 people who were incinerated in the 1945 blast or died from radiation exposure before the end of the year, and the 39,324 victims who still survive.

The mayor of Nagasaki also called on the international community to act now and take concrete steps towards concluding the Nuclear Weapons Convention.

AsiaNews quoted Taue as pointing to other nuclear threats in our world today, beginning with one close to home, what he called the serious challenge presented by the nuclear arms threat from the People’s Democratic Republic of (North) Korea.

The prime minister of Japan, Yoshihiko Noda, stated that his country has a responsibility to the international community to work for the complete elimination of all nuclear arsenals.

In an historic first, the ambassador to Japan from the United States of America, John Roos, attended the Hiroshima memorial service. He has been present in Nagasaki in previous years, but this was his first time in Hiroshima.

The annual remembrance ceremonies held in both cities are a reminder of the words the first democratically elected post-war mayor of Hiroshima, Hamai, uttered on the second anniversary of the bombings.

“… because of this atomic bomb, the people of the world have become aware that a global war, in which atomic energy would be used, would lead to the end of our civilisation and the extinction of humankind. This revolution in thinking ought to be the basis for an absolute peace, and imply the birth of a new life and a new world.”

The president of the Japanese Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga, wrote in his message, “After the disaster in Fukushima, as bishops we have asked for the immediate abolition of nuclear power plants. The issues relating to inactive plutonium and nuclear waste have not yet been resolved, yet the government has decided to reactivate the Oi centre. This we believe is wrong.”

Archbishop Ikenaga concludes, “The way to peace, however, is far from these topics. It is precisely the path to cherish and respect life. Therefore, let us make every effort to appeal anew to abolish nuclear plants immediately and to create a society where people protect life and seek peace.”

More from this section