"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Address by Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the Nagasaki Peace Ceremony

[Place] Nagasaki
[Date] August 9, 2011
[Source] Prime Minister of JAPAN and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional Translation
[Full text]

Here today, on the occasion of the Nagasaki Peace 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.

Sixty-six years ago today, an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, taking the precious lives of an estimated 70,000 people in mere seconds. Even the survivors have been left with indescribable pain and irreparable scars. People must never forget, nor repeat, the horrors caused by nuclear weapons here in Nagasaki. 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 dialogue 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 16 atomic bomb survivors from Nagasaki have participated in atomic bomb-related exhibitions in Turkey and peace exchanges, calling attention to the tragedy of nuclear weapons and appealing the importance of peace at various locations throughout the world. I sincerely thank 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 in other countries. In Nagasaki City, I hear that citizens have undertaken such activities as serving as "Guides for Peace," guiding children on student fieldtrips to the sites of the devastation. The passion and interest of the people of Nagasaki are indispensable in boosting momentum for nuclear disarmament. Japan will work together with everyone in spreading activities related to disarmament and non-proliferation 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. An investigative commission has been holding meetings since last December with the participation of experts, atomic bomb victim groups, and others to discuss an appropriate model for the recognition system. We will continue to address the issue of support for victims in a cordial manner while firmly taking into account the opinions of aging atomic bomb 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 provoking 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 resolving the incident as quickly as possible and preventing health hazards. We have also received assistance from Nagasaki Prefecture, Nagasaki City, and Nagasaki 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 will be taking a hard look at Japan's past regulations and structures related to nuclear power safety and will carry out a thorough investigation 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 free from dependence on nuclear power.

It is our responsibility to take the new lessons, realizations, and what we have learned from this incident and communicate those to the people of the world and future generations.

Last year at this ceremony I brought up the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Figures such as Dr. Albert Einstein and Dr. Hideki Yukawa were sickened by the contradiction of a scientific technology, which should be used to benefit humankind, being used for the purpose of creating nuclear weapons, and these conferences served as an opportunity for these individuals and others to galvanize movements pleading for the abolishment of nuclear weapons. The activities of these conferences became one of my personal motivations for pursuing a career in politics. Scientific technologies must serve to benefit the existence and well-being of human beings. To this day I still adhere to this philosophy, which I have held since I was just getting started as a politician.

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 Nagasaki 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.

9 August 2011

Naoto Kan

Prime Minister of Japan