António Guterres was in Tokyo on Wednesday where he held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as meeting the city’s Mayor and atomic bomb survivors, before traveling north to participate in the 73rd Nagasaki Peace Ceremony.
The number of survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – or hibakusha as they are known in Japanese, is decreasing each year.
Japan’s health ministry says that as of last March, only 155,000 survivors remain, with 90,000 having died over the past decade. Moreover, the number of survivors directly exposed to radiation in the cities and their surrounding areas, has dipped below 100,000 for the first time, with the average age being 82 years old.
Before the commemoration, Akitoshi Nakamura, Director of Atomic Bomb Museum spoke to UN News.
Having started working at the Museum 60 years after the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, just three days after Hiroshima, Mr. Nakamura enthusiastically shared the citizens “high hopes” as they “eagerly” await Mr. Guterres’ arrival.
“We are, from the bottom of our hearts, welcoming the SG’s visit here,” he asserted.
Laying out plans for the Secretary-General’s visit, Mr. Nakamura shared his hopes that the UN chief would join local children in making origami cranes, a symbol of peace, before touring the museum where highlights include a clock that stopped at 11:02 am, when the bomb was dropped; documents charting the catastrophe after the bombing; and the broken belfry dome of the Urakami Cathedral.
“We would like him to see those,” said the curator. “But more than anything, we would like him to see the photos of hibakusha.”
“What is most horrific is the effect of nuclear radiation, so we would like him to see the documents and panels that show the effects of nuclear radiation on health,” Mr. Nakamura elaborated.