Japan’s Abe rapped as Nagasaki marks 70th anniversary of A-bomb
Japan on Sunday marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki that claimed more than 74,000 lives, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came under fire for his attempts to expand the military’s role.
Bells tolled and tens of thousands of people, including ageing survivors and the relatives of victims, observed a minute’s silence at 11:02 am (0202 GMT), the moment the bomb from a US plane devastated the port city on August 9, 1945.
Abe laid a wreath at the ceremony, attended by representatives from 75 countries including US ambassador Caroline Kennedy.
“As the only country attacked with an atomic bomb in war, I am renewing our determination to lead the global effort for nuclear disarmament, to create a world without such weapons,” Abe said in his speech.
He promised that Japan would continue to abide by its long-held principles: not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory.
Abe was criticised for failing to mention the three principles at a ceremony days earlier in Hiroshima, alarming atomic bomb survivors — particularly when the nationalist leader is trying to push through legislation to extend the military’s role.
Nagasaki survivor Sumiteru Taniguchi, 86, lashed out at Abe’s government for trying to revise the pacifist constitution, accusing it of returning Japan to the state before the end of World War II.
“The security bills which the government is trying to push through would jeopardise our long-time movement for nuclear abolition and hopes of hibakusha (atom-bomb survivors),” he said in a thin voice. “I cannot tolerate the bills.”
Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue also criticised the government as Abe listened.
“Worries and anxieties are now spreading among us that this pledge made 70 years ago and the principle for peace in the Japanese constitution may be now undermined,” he said to loud applause.
Abe has faced criticism and opposition for his attempts to expand the role of his pacifist country’s so-called Self-Defence Forces.
These would allow them to engage in combat — in defence of an ally which comes under attack — for the first time since the war.
A constitution imposed by a post-war US occupation force prevented the military from engaging in combat except in the nation’s self-defence.
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