Former mayor of Hiroshima visits campus

Takashi Hiraoka, a former Hiroshima mayor, spoke on Aug. 4 to UVU students and faculty about the bombing of Hiroshima and his reasons for nuclear disarmament.

Hiraoka’s speech was given just a few days before the 63rd anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, which happened on Aug. 6, 1945.

UVU Peace and Justice Studies invited Hiraoka to speak on campus because of his experience in Hiroshima. He was attending school in Korea at the time of the atomic bomb, but still witnessed the aftermath of the event.

“Mr. Hiraoka, as a former mayor of Hiroshima, has a unique perspective on the danger,” said Michael Minch, director of peace and justice studies. “Those who have experienced nuclear death and destruction, or have been close to it, have a view from which we should all learn.”

Hiraoka explained the importance of remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two Japanese cities the United States dropped atomic bombs on during WWII. “When paired in the same sentence, they make us think about the nature of human beings,” said Hiraoka. “This is because the tragedies of the two cities pose questions about who we are and how far we, as human beings, have moved away from our rational nature.”

According to Hiraoka, the world needs to return to basic humanity and stop being dependant on nuclear weapons. He explained that the situation is growing worse for four reasons: the number of nations with nuclear weapons have increased; research continues to create small and lethal nuclear weapons; the rise of nuclear testing has exposed more people to radiation; and the nuclear black market has proliferated.

Hiraoka described a Hiroshima that is still feeling the effects of the bomb — many of its inhabitants suffer from the radiation after-effects, which are responsible for a multitude of health concerns. He feels complete disarmament is the only measure that can prevent this tragedy from happening again.

Hiraoka said Hiroshima still disagrees with the United States’ justification for dropping the bomb, but believes that nuclear disarmament is possible and that the United States will lead the abolition — and that when nuclear weapons are abolished, Hiroshima will be healed.

Hiraoka served two terms as mayor of Hiroshima from 1991 to 1999. During his time as mayor, he was an activist for peace, a pursuit he continues in his retirement.

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