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Speech made by Ambassador Orita on the occasion of the opening of the Atomic Bomb Exhibition in Coventry

3 October 2003

Lord Mayor, Lady Mayoress, Mr. Duggins, Guests from Nagasaki, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I should like to thank you all for coming to the Opening of the Hiroshima Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Exhibition. I should like also to thank all people who have made tremendous efforts to make this exhibition possible.

Fifty-eight years have passed since the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when I was three years old. Despite the passage of all those years, recollections of the impact of those bombs do not fade at all. Whenever I see myself black and white photographs taken at that time, of human sufferings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on such a big scale, I just become speechless. I cannot find proper words to express myself. Such is the destructive power of nuclear weapons. Will you please see them with your own eyes! It behoves everyone dedicated to peace to know the terrible destruction and after-effects of these weapons.

It is extremely important that the younger generation, on whose shoulders the future of the world rests, should grasp what war really means and how terrifying nuclear weapons really are. How young people view war must surely be a vital factor in whether humankind can achieve lasting world peace.

In this regard it is highly significant that the Hiroshima Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Exhibition, first launched in 1995, has arrived in Britain and is taking place here in Coventry. This city is for most people a poignant memorial to the horrors of war - as well as a symbol of resurrection and hope. Here, in this unique and moving setting, I pay homage to all those who went through tremendous suffering during the war. Our solemn remembrance of the hardship undergone by so many people makes us all the more determined that their sacrifice must never be forgotten.

The dreadful events of the Second World War offer a sombre lesson to all humankind. Since the end of that war 58 years ago, Japan, reflecting deeply on the past, has done its utmost to contribute to world peace. With the support and understanding of other countries, Japan has come to occupy a respected place in international society. It strictly abides by the three non-nuclear principles of not possessing, producing or permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons. At the same time, it is pursuing a peace foreign policy in the fields of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Although Japan's efforts have produced encouraging results in various respects, many daunting challenges remain.

Japan, as the only country in the history of the human race to have suffered nuclear bombings, is determined that a calamity such as befell the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should never, never, never, happen again. And it is something that requires the co-operation of every country in the world as well as the understanding and strong support of their citizens.

I am convinced that the Hiroshima Nagasaki Exhibition will greatly contribute to promoting the message of peace throughout the United Kingdom. I applaud once again the efforts of everyone who has worked to make the staging of this event a reality, and wish them all success in their endeavours. Thank you.


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