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Address by Prime Minister Naoto Kan
at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony

[Provisional Translation]

Here today, on the occasion of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, I reverently pay sincere tribute to the souls of the atomic bomb victims. Furthermore, I express my heartfelt sympathy for those suffering from the aftereffects of the atomic bombs.

The horror caused by nuclear weapons should never be repeated. I firmly believe that Japan, as the only country to have experienced nuclear devastation in war, has a moral responsibility to lead actions toward realizing "a world without nuclear weapons." I will take advantage of various opportunities to appeal the importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to world leaders, including the leaders of nuclear weapon states. Moreover, I pledge that Japan will observe its Constitution and firmly maintain the Three Non-Nuclear Principles for the sake of the elimination of nuclear weapons and the realization of eternal world peace.

Movement toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation has gained new momentum since President of the United States of America Barack Obama delivered his speech in Prague on nuclear weapons in April 2009.

Against this backdrop, today's Peace Memorial Ceremony is being attended by Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, as well as the representatives of more than 70 nations, including Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Japan John V. Roos. I would like to express my heartfelt welcome to all participants. I pray that the earnest desire of the people of Japan to never again see any harm caused by nuclear weapons will reach the hearts of everyone across the world.

More than 4,000 cities in the world have joined the Mayors of Peace, a non-governmental organization (NGO) headed by Hiroshima and Nagasaki that advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons. Activities led by NGOs like this one and civilian groups play a significant role in accelerating the movement for global nuclear disarmament.

During the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) held in May 2010, nearly 100 atomic bomb victims went to New York to call attention to the horror of nuclear weapons at the venue and in the streets. Mayor of Hiroshima City Tadatoshi Akiba also made a valuable contribution on the spot. The efforts of these people -- the atomic bomb victims as well as the NGOs and citizens that support them -- were directly behind the achievement of the Conference, the adoption of its final document.

Going forward, I would like to have atomic bomb victims represent Japan as, for example, "Special Ambassadors for Denuclearization" who will spread messages about the horror and inhumanity of the use of nuclear weapons and the value of peace to the world in various international arenas.

The Government of Japan, for its part, is resolved to proactively propose forward-looking, concrete steps for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and to contribute to consensus building in the international community.

For those suffering from the consequences of the bombs, the government has been providing comprehensive support measures covering the areas of health and medical care as well as welfare.

With regard to the Collective Lawsuit for the Recognition of Atomic-bomb Diseases, which continued on for many years, a confirmation note was exchanged in August 2009 to conclude the case. Based on this note, the government has withdrawn the appeal and established a fund to aid victims.

Meanwhile, for those waiting to be recognized as sufferers of atomic bomb diseases, the government will do its best to grant recognition at the earliest date possible. Furthermore, we will advance deliberations on revising the system for the recognition of atomic bomb diseases through changes to the law.

Moreover, the government will reinforce the support structure for those who were exposed to atomic bombs in the womb and their family members, based on their requests.

I would like to conclude my address by offering my heartfelt prayers for the repose of the atomic bomb victims' souls and my best wishes for the future to the atomic bomb survivors and the bereaved families, and for the well-being of all participants today and the people of Hiroshima City.

6 August 2010
Naoto Kan
Prime Minister of Japan