TOKYO (RNS/ENI) The Roman Catholic bishops of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — the only cities in the world that were leveled by atomic bombs — are urging world leaders to abolish nuclear weapons.
Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami and Hiroshima Bishop Joseph Atsumi Misue released a joint statement ahead of a nuclear security summit scheduled for April in Washington, and a review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York in May.
“We, as the bishops of the Catholic Church of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, which is the only country in the world to have suffered nuclear attacks, demand that the president of the United States, the Japanese government and the leaders of other countries make utmost efforts to abolish nuclear weapons,” the bishops said.
Takami was born in March 1946,in Nagasaki, the second city to suffer from an atomic-bomb attack in August 1945 during the World War II. He was in his mother’s womb when the Japanese city was bombed days after Hiroshima experienced the first nuclear attack.
The bishops said the sin of the atomic bombings in the two cities “should be borne not only by the United States” but “also the other countries, including Japan, which have kept on waging wars throughout their history”.
The bishops asked the United States to “limit the purpose of retaining nuclear weapons to deterring others from using such weapons only” as a first step “toward the elimination of nuclear weapons” around the world.
The bishops urged Japan, which has a bilateral security treaty with the United States, to “demonstrate and implement what Japan itself will do toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons.” They accused Japan of “an extremely passive attitude” to U.S. nuclear arms reduction policies, because the country is under the protection of a U.S. nuclear umbrella.
In a related move, nine British churches have joined the World Council of Churches and others in “Now is the Time” campaign, which seeks to put all bomb-grade material under international control. The coalition also seeks to make the use and possession of nuclear weapons illegal through a new Nuclear Weapons Convention.
— Hisashi Yukimoto
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