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Hibakusha: Arrogance of runaway gov't could lead to war: ex-Nagasaki Univ. pres.

Standing in front of the Peace Declaration displayed at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum in Nagasaki, Hideo Tsuchiyama talks about his commitment to peace. (Mainichi)

NAGASAKI -- On Aug. 9 of this year, former Nagasaki University president, 91-year-old Hideo Tsuchiyama, sat along in front of the television at his home here, listening to Mayor Tomihisa Taue read the Nagasaki Peace Declaration at an annual ceremony marking the 71th anniversary of the U.S. military's atomic bombing of the city. It was the first Nagasaki A-Bomb Day for Tsuchiyama after he resigned from the declaration drafting committee due to his advanced age.

"It came up short," Tsuchiyama said of the declaration, days later. He said it was because this year's declaration did not touch upon the security legislation about which the mayor, in last year's declaration, urged the government and Diet to listen to "voices of unease and concern concentrate their wisdom, and conduct careful and sincere deliberations."

"I stepped down from the drafting committee of my own volition, so maybe I'm not one to say," Tsuchiyama continued, carefully choosing his words. "But in order to keep accountability for what was said last year, it would've been nice if he'd said something in reference to it, like 'alarm' or 'concern.'"

In 2014, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was aspiring to have Japan's right to collective self-defense approved, Tsuchiyama argued during a Nagasaki Peace Declaration drafting meeting that the declaration from the atomic-bombed city should include words that rein in the government. The original draft did not include the term "collective self-defense," but ultimately, the declaration noted that the "rushed debate over collective self-defense has given rise to the concern" that the principle of pacifism was wavering, and urged the government to "take serious heed of these distressed voices."

In meetings of the Peace Declaration drafting committee for 2015, Tsuchiyama continued to voice his concerns over security-related bills that the government was trying to pass. "The reason I was adamant that the declaration address the bills was because I had the sense that they could open the way for war," he explained. "Atomic-bombed cities must speak for everyday people who feel a vague sense of anxiety."

During World War II, one of Tsuchiyama's older brothers was taken into custody by military police on spying charges just for having taken a photograph at a school field day that coincidentally captured a military facility. Another older brother and his wife died in the atomic bombing on Aug. 9, 1945. At the time, Tsuchiyama was a medical student at Nagasaki Medical University -- now Nagasaki University -- and helped provide medical aid to the bomb's victims, but he felt helpless as people died one after another.

A national referendum law stipulating the process for constitutional amendment was passed in May 2007, under the first Abe Cabinet. Alarmed by Abe's zeal for constitutional revision, Tsuchiyama submitted an essay to a journal featuring the testimonies of A-bomb survivors in which he wrote, "The mission given to those of us living in an atomic-bombed city, is to defend the Constitution, and Article 9 in particular, to the death."

Nearly a decade has passed. The security-related laws were passed, and on Nov. 15, the Abe Cabinet authorized the Ground Self-Defense Force to perform a rush-and-rescue mission. The possibility of constitutional revision has grown increasingly real.

"War doesn't happen all of a sudden," Tsuchiyama said. "We gradually enter a state of preparation, and then it ignites. If we tolerate the administration's arrogance, we will inevitably find ourselves on the road to war." (By Sayo Kato, Nagasaki Bureau)

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A medical student at the time, Hideo Tsuchiyama headed to Saga Prefecture, where his mother had evacuated, on the morning of Aug. 9, 1945, the very day of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The next morning, he returned to help victims in Nagasaki, where he was exposed to radiation. After stepping down from the post of Nagasaki University president in 1992, he stepped up his involvement in the peace movement.

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