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In 1947, two years after Hiroshima experienced the tragedy of the world’s first atomic bombing, the City of Hiroshima held a Peace Festival, in the hope that the Festival would develop into an event on a global scale and that it would help to convey Hiroshima’s desire for lasting peace to the people of the world.
The three-day Festival started on August 5th, 1947. On August 6th, a ceremony was held in the area that was to eventually become the Peace Memorial Park. The first Peace Declaration was read by then-mayor Shinzo Hamai:
"This horrible weapon brought about a “Revolution of Thought,” which has convinced us of the necessity and the value of lasting peace. That is to say, because of this atomic bomb, the people of the world have become aware that a global war in which atomic energy would be used would lead to the end of our civilization and extinction of mankind. This revolution in thinking ought to be the basis for an absolute peace, and imply the birth of new life and a new world…What we have to do at this moment is to strive with all our might towards peace, becoming forerunners of a new civilization. Let us join to sweep away from this earth the horror of war, and to build a true peace…Here, under this peace tower, we thus make a declaration of peace."
All of the cries against war and all of the genuine searching for peace welling up from deep in the hearts of the people of Hiroshima took form in this document, the Peace Declaration.
The Peace Declaration has since been delivered by the mayor of Hiroshima every year at the August 6 Peace Memorial Ceremony, but its content has changed with the times. The words “against atomic and hydrogen bombs,” first appeared in then-mayor Tadao Watanabe’s 1956 Peace Declaration, a year after the first World Conference Against A -and H-Bombs. In 1971, 26 years after the end of World War II, then-mayor Setsuo Yamada used his Peace Declaration to make clear that peace education was necessary in order to hand down the meaning of war and peace to the next generation. In 1982, then-mayor Takeshi Araki incorporated into his Peace Declaration a call to the cities of the world to answer the proposal for peace solidarity that was made at the Second UN Special Session for Disarmament in June of that year. The solidarity of cities has spread to include many cities from all over the world as Mayors for Peace.
In the 1991 Peace Declaration, given the year he took office, then-mayor Takashi Hiraoka, a first for a mayor of Hiroshima, stated that, “Japan inflicted great suffering and despair on the peoples of Asia and the Pacific during its reign of colonial domination and war. There can be no excuse for these actions.” In his 1996 Peace Declaration he stated his hope that agreement on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would lead to a total ban on nuclear tests, and called for the creation of a culture of peace and an archive of A-bombed materials to convey to as many as possible the reality of the atomic bombing. To realize a world without nuclear weapons, the 1997 Peace Declaration called upon “the government of Japan to devise security arrangements that do not rely on a nuclear umbrella.” At the same time, it emphasized the necessity of candid dialogue amongst the people of the world to transcend differences in language, religion and custom.
After taking office in 1999, then-mayor Tadatoshi Akiba commended the hibakusha (atomic bomb victims) in that year’s Peace Declaration for transcending the suffering and despair inflicted by the atomic bombing and for continuously appealing for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Based on the belief that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil that could bring about the annihilation of the human family race, he asserted that nothing is more important than for the people of the world to maintain a strong will to abolish nuclear weapons. In the Peace Declaration of 2000, he looked back over the 20th century, dominated by war and the development of science and technology, and pleaded with the world to cut the chains of hatred and violence to clear a path toward reconciliation.
The first Peace Declaration of the 21st Century (2001), appealed to the world to muster the courage to value reconciliation and humanity in order to make the 21st Century a nuclear-free one of peace and humanity. The 2004 Peace Declaration called for support of the Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth by 2020, the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings.
With the aging of the A-bomb survivors, the number of people who are able to speak of their experiences of the bombing is continuing to decrease; considering this fact, Mayor Kazumi Matsui thought it important to have the people of future generations and the world share the experiences of the A-bomb survivors and their wish for peace, and for the first time in 2011, decided to directly include testimonies solicited from A-bomb survivors in the Peace Declaration. The 2015 declaration presented to policymakers and people of the world that “generosity” and “love for humanity” are the principles necessary to firm up one’s belief in nuclear weapons abolition, which would then serve as motivation toward this goal.
So that no other people in the world would have to suffer tragedies like those experienced by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hiroshima will continue to plead in the Peace Declaration for the removal of nuclear weapons from the world and the establishment of lasting world peace.
Peace Promotion Division
Tel：082-242-7831 / FAX：082-242-7452