Letters from Hiroshima

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Hiroshima was the first city in history to be subjected to nuclear warfare, when the atomic weapon codenamed “Little boy” was dropped on the city on 6 August 1945. After the war, the city recast itself as a “peace memorial city”, forever tasked with reminding the world of the complete destruction caused by atomic weapons. As part of this effort, each time a country detonates a nuclear weapon, the mayor of the city protests. As the Review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty continues in New York, openDemocracy republishes a small selection of letters sent by the current mayor, Tadatoshi Akiba, to leaders around the world.

These letters are reproduced with kind permission of the International Peace Promotion Department, the City of Hiroshima






August 11, 2004

His Excellency Vladimir V. Putin
President
Russian Federation



Letter of Protest


We have learned that the Russian Atomic Energy Minister Rumyantsev announced that your country has conducted multiple sub-critical nuclear tests at the Novaya Zemlya Island test site in the Arctic Ocean since the start of the year.

If the reports are factual, as the mayor of Hiroshima I vehemently protest these acts as a betrayal of the hopes of the A-bomb survivors and people around the world for nuclear abolition.

The nuclear policies of the United States, North Korea, and other countries have thrown the world into a crisis of new nuclear proliferation and increased the danger that nuclear weapons will be used. For Russia, which claims to abide by the NPT to, like the U.S., test and take every other pain to maintain its nuclear arsenal, only hastens the destruction of the NPT regime. These deeply alarming developments are increasing nuclear proliferation and leading the world towards a day when such weapons will be used and extinguish human life.

I demand that Russia sincerely abide the “unequivocal undertaking” by the nuclear weapon states to “accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals,” adopted by the 2000 NPT Review Conference, to immediately cease sub-critical nuclear testing, and to do all in your power to make the 21st century peaceful and free of nuclear weapons.


Tadatoshi Akiba
Mayor
The City of Hiroshima



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May 26, 2004

His Excellency George W. Bush
The President
The United States of America



Letter of Protest


On May 25, the United States conducted its 21st subcritical nuclear test at the underground nuclear test site in Nevada.

In ongoing six-party talks, the US is demanding that North Korea completely abandon its nuclear weapons program, and yet you are conducting subcritical nuclear tests. Obviously, you are applying a self-serving double standard based on the “rule of power.”

A preparatory committee meeting for the 2005 review of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has just ended with most nations and NGOs working energetically to prevent proliferation and promote nuclear disarmament. In this context, your subcritical test tramples on the cherished desires of the A-bomb survivors and people around the world, the majority of whom seek the abolition of nuclear weapons. I am outraged by this test and on behalf of the people of Hiroshima I hereby vehemently protest.

I greatly fear that the nuclear policies of the United States are destroying the NPT regime, the central international agreement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, and will provoke a new round of nuclear proliferation. To prevent this proliferation, the United States must accept its duty as the world’s nuclear superpower and begin working in good faith toward the “ ... unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of [the nuclear weapon states’] nuclear arsenals” promised at the time of the 2000 NPT Review. I demand that you immediately ratify the CTBT, terminate all nuclear testing, including subcritical tests, and take the lead in carving out a clear path toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons.


Tadatoshi Akiba
Mayor
The City of Hiroshima



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February 15, 2002

The Right Honourable Anthony Charles Lynton Blair
Prime Minister
The United Kingdom



Letter of Protest


On February 14, the United Kingdom collaborated with the United States to carry out a subcritical nuclear test at the American underground test site in Nevada.

I am extremely disappointed to learn that the UK participated in this nuclear test, disregarding efforts by the rest of the world to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and abolish all such weapons as soon as possible, and despite my official visit to the UK last fall during which I requested directly, on behalf of the people of Hiroshima, that you work toward nuclear abolition. Your subcritical nuclear testing and your apparent determination to continue possessing nuclear weapons on into the 21st century amount to a betrayal of the atomic bomb survivors and people around the world who want nothing more than the elimination of such weapons.

I had hoped that the cruel tragedies wrought by the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had taught the human race a valuable lesson. However, confronted by the fact that the United States and the United Kingdom have chosen at this delicate time to conduct a joint subcritical nuclear test, I cannot escape the feeling that we are doomed to repeat the horrors of the nuclear explosions that took place nearly 60 years ago. Your actions are profoundly harmful to the worldwide system for controlling nuclear weapons and to the process of nuclear disarmament. I am gravely concerned that you are provoking nuclear proliferation and, on behalf of the people of Hiroshima, I vehemently protest.

We have reason to believe that the subcritical tests are linked to the development of new nuclear weapons, and they certainly violate the spirit of the CTBT. The United Kingdom must begin listening conscientiously to the international community calling desperately for the abolition of nuclear weapons. You are obligated to work in good faith to implement your promise of an “unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals”, adopted at the NPT Review Conference. On these grounds, we demand that you immediately halt all nuclear testing, including subcritical testing, and begin working sincerely to build a new world order free from nuclear weapons.


Tadatoshi Akiba
Mayor
The City of Hiroshima



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May 29, 1998



His Excellency Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

His Excellency Miss Durray Shahwar Kureshi
Charg’e d’Affaires of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Japan



Letter of Protest


With the international community still loudly condemning India’s repeated tests, and despite communication from the city of Hiroshima and numerous concerned parties both in and out of Pakistan urging you to show restraint, you proceeded unilaterally with your own underground nuclear test. That test amounted to a violent act of disdain for the voices in the international community calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and in the name of Hiroshima, I hereby strongly protest.

The actions of Pakistan and India in attempting to achieve national security through nuclear weapons heightens tensions in Southwest Asia, generates momentum toward a nuclear arms race, and runs the risk of destroying the NPT system. I urge you in the strongest possible terms to heed international public opinion overwhelmingly in favour of nuclear abolition, halt all nuclear testing immediately, abandon your policy of brandishing nuclear weapons to make a show of strength, and make genuine efforts to build trust and a cooperative relationship with India.


Takashi Hiraoka
Mayor of Hiroshima



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May 12, 1998

The Honorable Atal Behari Vajpayee
Prime Minister of India

His Excellency Mr. Siddharth Singh
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
of India
Embassy of India in Japan



Letter of Protest


Yesterday, your country implemented three underground nuclear tests in Pokharan in the State of Rajasthan. The city of Hiroshima finds your action profoundly regrettable, especially coming as it did so soon after the strong reaction to the Hiroshima-Nagasaki exhibitions in Mumbai and New Delhi. On behalf of the citizens of Hiroshima, I hereby strongly protest.

India has long taken a positive stance toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. During the negotiations toward the adoption of the CTBT by the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, you demanded that the nuclear powers set a concrete deadline for abolishing their nuclear weapons. In December last year, you were among the countries that signed a resolution put forward by Malaysia and 45 other countries demanding that negotiations begin in 1998 toward a total ban on nuclear weapons.

Now, despite these positive efforts, you have conducted nuclear tests of your own. Though the context of your testing is one in which the US and Russia have conducted repeated subcritical nuclear tests and in other ways are clearly not demonstrating the good faith effort toward nuclear disarmament they promised in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), you have nevertheless committed an act that can only heighten tensions in Asia and increase the danger of reigniting a nuclear arms race.

We demand that you immediately halt your nuclear testing. We request that, rather than seeking nuclear weapons for the narrow security interests of India alone, you open your ear to international public opinion demanding a world free from nuclear weapons, and we invite you to work in concert with the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for total nuclear abolition.


Takashi Hiraoka
Mayor of Hiroshima



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July 29, 1996

The Honorable Jiang Zemin
The President
People’s Republic of China

His Excellency Mr. Xu Dunxin
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the
People’s Republic of China
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Japan



Letter of Protest


Your country has, despite worldwide opposition, conducted a nuclear test immediately prior to the opening of the third session of the Geneva Conference on Disarmament at which the world eagerly anticipates final negotiation and agreement regarding the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Your test was a violent act running contrary to the nuclear disarmament efforts of the international community. I hereby vehemently protest.

Nuclear weapons can by no means assure your country’s security. Rather, continued testing arouses distrust among nations and intensifies the danger of nuclear proliferation, a genuine threat to global peace and security. We demand that your country abandon the theory of nuclear deterrence and conscientiously fulfil its duty as a nuclear power by working in good faith toward nuclear disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

We are gratified that your country has declared a moratorium on nuclear testing. We urge you hold to that promise and contribute actively to an immediate signing of a CTBT that bans all forms of nuclear tests.


Takashi Hiraoka
Mayor
Hiroshima City



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September 2, 1995

His Excellency Jean-Bernard Ouvrieu
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Japan Embassy of French Republic

Letter of Protest


Dear Mr. Ambassador:

Ignoring pleas from the international community to halt nuclear weapons testing, your country has carried out nuclear tests in the Nuclear Free Zone in the South Pacific Ocean. This unforgivable violence is a betrayal of humanity.

On behalf of the citizens of Hiroshima, the first atomic bombed city in the world, I gravely protest your country’s continued reliance on the theory of nuclear deterrence despite the end of the East-West cold war, abrogating your responsibility as a nuclear power to strive toward nuclear disarmament. In addition, I hereby demand an immediate and comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons testing.


Takashi Hiraoka
Mayor
The City of Hiroshima



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