On the 6th, Hiroshima observed its 56th "A-bomb Day" since the atomic bombing. Fifty thousand people (according to the city's estimate) attended the first Peace Memorial Ceremony of the new century in Peace Memorial Park located in Naka-ku, Hiroshima. Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba delivered his Peace Declaration entitled "Hiroshima in the 21st Century Wants to Spread its Wings as a City of Humanity."
In a reprieve from the fierce heat that had enveloped the city up to the previous day, the morning of the 6th came in cloudy. At 8:00 a.m., Mayor Akiba and representatives of bereaved families dedicated the Register of the Dead to the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims. The number of victims who either died over the last year or whose previous death had been confirmed came to 4,757. This brought the total number of victims to 221,893 and increased the number of register volumes by two to 77. The average age of survivors in Hiroshima (as of the end of March) is now 70.1. Climbing into the 70s for the first time, the figure indicates the continuing aging of the survivors.
After the address of City Council President Hiroaki Hirano, representatives
of the bereaved families, representatives of survivors, Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi, and others offered flowers. Representing city residents
and symbolizing the "reconciliation" proclaimed in last year's
Peace Declaration, representatives of both the Korean Residents Union in
Japan (Mindan) Hiroshima Local Main Office and the General Association
of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) Local Headquarters of Hiroshima
Prefecture for the first time jointly offered flowers as "One Korea."
At 8:15 a.m., the time the bomb was dropped, the Peace Bell sounded, signaling the start of the period of silence.
In his Peace Declaration, Mayor Akiba declared, "We will do everything in our power to make the 21st century a 'century of peace and humanity' free of nuclear weapons." He called on leaders around the world to "muster the strong will necessary to abolish nuclear weapons and the courage to emphasize reconciliation and humanity" and urged the Japanese government to improve assistance measures to survivors living outside Japan.
Prime Minister Koizumi stated, "We will strive for a successful Conference to Promote Ratification of the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty) to be held in September," and vowed to "spare no effort to abolish nuclear weapons."
Representing the United Nations and attending the ceremony for the first time in six years, Under-Secretary Kenzo Oshima, is a Hiroshima survivor. Oshima read a message from Secretary General Annan that urged, "Let us solemnly renew our vow to prevent a repetition of the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in this new century."
(caption) Mayor Akiba reading his Peace Declaration