Address by Prime Minister Taro Aso
Here today, on the occasion of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, I reverently offer my prayers to the souls of the atomic bomb victims. I further express my sincere sympathy for those suffering from the after-effects of the atomic bomb.
On this day sixty-four years ago, in a mere instant, tens of thousands of precious lives were lost and an enormous number of people were injured when an atomic bomb was dropped here. Hiroshima, the beautiful City of Water, was also reduced to ashes.
Yet during its postwar journey, Hiroshima together with its people has risen up and developed dramatically as what is now an International City of Peace and Culture. I pay warm tribute to all those who have devoted themselves to Hiroshima's reconstruction and development to the present, which can be called miraculous.
Japan is the only country to know the devastation actually wrought by atomic bombs. We must expend every possible effort to achieve international peace so that the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki shall never be repeated.
Japan has proposed a resolution on the total elimination of nuclear weapons at the United Nations General Assembly each of the past fifteen years. Against this backdrop, the United States and Russia have recently been advancing negotiations seeking a further reduction in nuclear weapons. The G8 summit made a declaration for the first time last month in L'Aquila on "a world without nuclear weapons" and sent out a robust message which maintains and strengthens the growing momentum for global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
Today I again renew the pledge that Japan shall firmly maintain the Three Non-Nuclear Principles and lead the international community towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons and the realisation of eternal peace.
For those suffering from the consequences of the bomb, the government has been providing comprehensive support measures covering the areas of health and medical care as well as welfare. In particular, in recognising atomic bomb diseases, the government is working under the principle of granting recognition to as many sufferers as possible. Since April 2008, approximately 4,000 people have been recognised based on a new policy. In addition, we have further expanded the scope of eligibility for recognition in line with a subsequent judicial ruling.
Furthermore, the revised Law to Support the Survivors of the Atomic Bomb was brought into force last year to make it easier for survivors living overseas to obtain the Atomic Bomb Survivor's Certificate. We will continue to work hard to support as many of the sufferers as possible.
I should like to conclude by offering my heartfelt prayers for the repose of the atomic bomb victims' souls as well as my best wishes for the future of the atomic bomb survivors and of the bereaved families, and for the further prosperity of the City of Hiroshima.