TOKYO – On the occasion of her 83rd birthday on Friday, Japanese Empress Michiko issued a pacifist message in favor of the abolition of nuclear weapons and praised the value of efforts of those who survived the nuclear attacks on Japan.
In an announcement issued by the Imperial House Agency, the Empress praised the recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and noted the importance of this recognition in promoting denuclearization.
In the message, the Empress stressed that she thinks the most significant thing is that, thanks to the long-lasting efforts of the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, the world finally seems to have paid attention to the inhumanity of atomic weapons and the horrific consequences of their use.
ICAN, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization with which “hibakushas” (survivors of the two nuclear attacks on Japan in August 1945) have collaborated, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work pointing out to “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of nuclear weapons and for their efforts to achieve a treaty prohibiting them.
The Japanese Empress also said that the feelings of the hibakusha have never been directed towards reprisals, since that would only spark more struggle, but towards the desire for a peaceful future.
She also referred to the “complicated” official position of the Japanese government in the international anti-nuclear movement, since the Asian country is dependent on the US for defense and its deterrent military strategy based on atomic weapons.
Japan is one of the countries that did not sign the pioneering Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, approved on July 7 by 122 UN members, a position that was criticized by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cities on which the United States launched the first nuclear attacks in history, as well as by the “hibakushas.”
The agreement, which prohibits the use, possession or deployment of nuclear weapons, has not been signed by any of the recognized nuclear powers, the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom, or by many of their allies.
The Empress also elaborated on the desire to abdicate announced by Emperor Akihito, and expressed her “deep gratitude” for the approval last June in the Japanese Parliament of the law that will allow the occupier of the Chrysanthemum Throne to hand over the seat to his son, Crown Prince Naruhito.
“It means that His Majesty, after having devoted himself for so many years to pursuing the role of the Emperor as the symbol of the State, will now, in His advancing years, be able to spend some days of calm and quiet,” said the empress, who added that the news gives her an “immeasurable sense of relief.”