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No more Hibakusha: Nuclear Free Local Authorities urge PM to make peace pledge at Hiroshima Summit 15 May 23

On the eve of a summit of G7 world leaders being hosted in Hiroshima by Prime Minister Kishida of Japan, the Chair of the UK/Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities has written to Rishi Sunak to urge the Prime Minister to use this unique opportunity to pledge the UK Government to work for a nuclear-weapon free world.

The Japanese port city of Hiroshima was utterly devastated by the explosion of an atomic bomb equivalent in force to 15,000 tons of the conventional high explosive TNT in the morning of the 6 August 1945. Most buildings were totally destroyed by the blast and a fireball consumed the city centre. 70,000 inhabitants died on that day, many of them high-school students, and a further 70,000 by the end of that year, being the victims of blast, heat and radiation. Prime Minister Kishida is a son of that city and a second-generation Hibakusha, A-bomb survivor, having many relatives who died as a result of the explosion; consequently he is totally opposed to nuclear weapons.

The Federation of Scientists have estimated there are approximately 12,500 nuclear weapons possessed at this time by nine states in the world(1). They are many more times powerful that the bomb which destroyed Hiroshima. An all-out nuclear war could extinguish all life on Earth.

Rishi Sunak will be the first British Prime Minister to attend a summit in that city which will be held on the weekend of 19 to 21 May. The NFLAs, being conscious that the summit is being held in the world’s first A-bombed city and at a time when the world is again faced with the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons as a consequence of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to visit the Peace Memorial Museum and the Peace Park, and to meet with the Hibakusha, the Japanese A-bomb survivors, who, despite their advanced age, continue to speak out against nuclear weapons.

In 1968, the United Kingdom was one of first signatories to the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (the NPT). As a nuclear weapon state, the UK pledged under Article VI to ‘pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament.’

Mindful of the fact that 55 years on, the UK has yet to honour these obligations as a nuclear nation, NFLA Chair, Councillor Lawrence O’Neill, also requested Prime Minister Sunak ‘use this Summit to publicly recommit this nation to these pledges and then return home to earnestly begin work to achieve them’.

The NFLAs’ sister organisation, Mayors for Peace, is based in the city after being established by Hiroshima Mayor Araki at the United Nations in 1982. Over 8,200 mayors from across the world now represent an international coalition opposed to nuclear weapons, including 101 in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Some of these UK/Ireland members are also Nuclear Free Local Authorities. Hiroshima Mayor Matsui currently serves as President of Mayors for Peace and the Secretariat has recently issued an Open Letter to world leaders. For information, this is also reproduced below. [on original]

May 17, 2023 - Posted by | politics

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