Address by Prime Minister Naoto Kan
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 still suffering from the aftereffects of the atomic bombs.
People must never forget, nor repeat, the horrors caused by nuclear weapons here in Hiroshima 66 years ago. On behalf of the Government of Japan, I pledge that Japan, the only country to have experienced nuclear devastation in war, will observe its Constitution and firmly maintain the Three Non-Nuclear Principles for the sake of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons and the realization of eternal world peace.
Japan is firmly committed to leading the international community towards realizing “a world without nuclear weapons,” and we have hitherto put this principle into practice. Last year, Japan submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations General Assembly entitled “United Action towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons” together with 90 other co-sponsoring states including the United States, the largest number in history, and the resolution was adopted by an overwhelming majority. Furthermore, in order to steadily implement the agreements made at last year's Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Japan launched the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), comprising a trans-regional group of countries that do not possess nuclear weapons. The Government of Japan leads international discussion in the areas of disarmament and non-proliferation by carrying out activities together with other countries that share the same determination.
It is Japan's historical responsibility to the world to tell future generations about the horrors of nuclear weapons. At last year's ceremony I proposed that Japan dispatch “Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons.” As of today, a total of 17 atomic bomb victims from Hiroshima have participated in voyages around the world to tell their personal accounts, calling attention to the tragedy of nuclear weapons and appealing the importance of peace at various locations throughout the world. I would like to express my appreciation to all of the Special Communicators for their devoted cooperation. Furthermore, with the cooperation of atomic bomb victims we have commenced efforts to translate the accounts of the atomic bomb into other languages and introduce those to all over the world. The passion and interest of the people of Hiroshima are indispensable in boosting momentum for nuclear disarmament. Japan will work together with everyone in spreading activities related to disarmament and non-proliferation education around the world.
Even today there are people still suffering from the aftereffects of the atomic bomb. The Government of Japan has implemented comprehensive support measures for these individuals in the areas of health, medical care, and welfare. We will be exerting every effort to make improvements so that individuals that are waiting to be recognized as having an atomic bomb disease receive recognition as soon as possible. To discuss an appropriate model for the recognition system, an investigative commission has been holding meetings since last December with the participation of experts, atomic bomb victim groups, and others concerned. We will continue to address the issue of support for atomic bomb victims in a cordial manner while firmly taking into account the opinions of aging victims.
The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 severely damaged Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Nuclear Power Station. The ensuing large-scale, long-term nuclear incident caused the release of radioactive materials, thus generating tremendous concern in Japan and around the world.
Weighing heavily on this unprecedented situation, the Government of Japan has implemented all possible measures in working towards bringing the incident to a close as quickly as possible and preventing health hazards. We have also received assistance from Hiroshima Prefecture, Hiroshima City, and Hiroshima University, including for measuring radiation levels and dispatching medical teams to treat radiation exposure. Thanks to these efforts, the situation is steadily reaching a stable state. Nevertheless, there are still many challenges that lie before us and we will continue to make every effort in addressing this problem.
Japan is also working to revise its energy policy from scratch. I deeply regret believing in the “security myth” of nuclear power and will carry out a thorough verification on the cause of this incident and implement fundamental countermeasures to ensure safety. At the same time, Japan will reduce its level of reliance on nuclear power generation with the aim of becoming a society that is not dependent on nuclear power.
I believe that it is our responsibility to take this incident as new lessons for all of humanity, and communicate what we have learned to the people of the world and future generations.
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. I again pledge that Japan will exert every effort to eliminating nuclear weapons and realizing eternal world peace so that the horrors created by nuclear weapons are never repeated.
6 August 2011
Prime Minister of Japan