Sunday marked the 75th anniversary of the US dropping an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, which killed more than 70,000 civilians. Speaking at a memorial event, the city’s mayor urged the world to work towards a nuclear ban and stressed the importance of arms control.
Mayor Tomihisa Taue read a peace declaration and criticized the US and Russia for failing to renew the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a Cold War-era treaty that banned the development of medium-range nuclear and ballistic missiles. The Trump administration withdrew from the treaty in 2019, citing Russian violations. Shortly after the US pulled out of the INF, the Pentagon began testing missiles that were prohibited under the treaty.
“As a result, the threat of nuclear weapons being used is increasingly becoming real,” Taue said. The mayor also urged Japan to sign the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The 2017 treaty is an agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons and work towards their complete elimination, but no states with nuclear arsenals have signed on to the treaty.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has refused to sign the treaty and reiterated his position in comments on Sunday. “The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted without taking into consideration the reality of the harsh national security environment,” Abe said.
The last nuclear arms control agreement between the US and Russia is set to expire in February 2021. The New START limits the number of nuclear warheads the two countries can have deployed and includes an inspection regime for verification. Russia has offered to extend the New START, but the US insists on including China in a trilateral agreement. Beijing has no interest in participating since China’s nuclear arsenal is only a fraction of the US and Russia’s.
The memorial event featured a speech from Shigemi Fukabori, an 89-year-old survivor who was 14 when the bomb hit Nagasaki. “I’m determined to keep telling my story so that Nagasaki will be the last place on Earth to have suffered an atomic attack,” Fukabori said.