I spoke at the annual Hiroshima Day commemoration in Wellington today. It was great to see two former Parliamentarians who have worked hard on this issue, Gerald O’Brien and Graham Kelly, pictured above.
This is the day that reflects on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The scale of both the short term and long devastation in these two cities was horrific. 92% of the buildings in the city were destroyed, between 140,000 and 160,000 people died. The health effects of radiation were felt immediately, killed many over the following months, and the legacy of illness and disability has stayed with descendants over generations.
Hiroshima Day has become not only a day to reflect on the horror of the bombing, but also to mobilise support for ridding the world of nuclear weapons. In my speech today I talked about the hope that many people have for progress towards that goal. In New Zealand we now have cross party support for abolition. Phil Twyford sponsored a resolution in Parliament this year that had support from all parties. Both Ban Ki Moon and Barack Obama have committed themselves to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. But of course hope is not enough. There are still 28,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and an enormous job to be done to move the major nuclear powers.
NGOs and governments are working together on this. As I looked at the likes of Dame Laurie Salas, Gerald O’Brien and Alyn Ware and some of the younger folk present today, I know that this is a campaign with a huge history and a desire to carry on.