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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 November 20 - 26  > Hibakusha welcome Pope’s speech on nuclear-free world
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2019 November 20 - 26 [PEACE]

Hibakusha welcome Pope’s speech on nuclear-free world

November 25, 2019

Survivors of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki on November 24 welcomed Pope Francis’ speech calling for a world without nuclear weapons.

As the first event during his four-day visit to Japan starting on the previous day, the Pope delivered a speech at the Nagasaki Peace Park, which was filled with 1,000 people, including A-bomb survivors (Hibakusha), heads of local governments, children, and Christian believers. Pope Francis became the second Pope to visit Japan after the late Pope John Paul II who came to the country 38 years ago.

The Holy Father in his speech pointed out that many people on Earth long for a world without nuclear weapons, and stressed that in order to achieve this, all people in the world need to work together. Referring to the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty, he said that the Catholic Church is unyielding in its determination to realize peace among people and countries.

After the speech, Hibakusha held a press conference in the city. Yokoyama Teruko, vice-chair of the Nagasaki Atomic bomb Survivors Council, said, “I believe that the pontiff appealed for the abolition of nuclear weapons in Nagasaki in response to Hibakusha calling for ‘No more Hiroshimas and Nagasakis’, ‘No more war’, and ‘No more Hibakusha’ in UN meetings over the years.”

Kawano Koichi, who chairs the Hibakusha liaison council of the Nagasaki Prefectural Peace Movement Center, said that the Pope in his speech sent out a strong message that politicians in the world should give up war and nuclear weapons. Kawano underscored the importance of the fact that the Pope called for the abolition of nuclear weapons in the A-bombed city of Nagasaki with the UN anti-nuke treaty in place. He criticized the Japanese government for continuing to rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella despite its unique position as the only A-bombed country in the world. Kawano expressed hope that the Pope will push Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to make efforts to work for a nuclear-free world in a scheduled meeting with Abe.

Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations Representative Director Tanaka Terumi said that unlike when the late Pope John Paul II visited Japan 38 years ago, the world now has the UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons and that this move is unstoppable. He said that the Pope’s speech is meant to pressure nuclear powers to work together for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
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