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Editorial: Japan should do more to pursue a world without nuclear arms

An atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima 74 years ago today on Aug. 6, 1945. Many people's lives were lost in the blast and the survivors and their offspring are still suffering from the effects of the attack, such as through radiation-related diseases. The average age of atomic-bomb survivors, or hibakusha, is nearly 83. It is necessary to step up efforts to prevent the memories of the tragedy from fading.

The main building of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was fully renovated this year for the first time in 28 years. The facility now focuses on the lives of each and every victim and survivor. Specifically, 538 items such as victims and survivors' belongings and photos are on display to show how the victims died and the challenges survivors faced in the postwar period. The change of the displays is aimed at more strongly demonstrating the actual situation regarding damage from the blast.

Words, photos and personal effects of atomic-bombing victims and their relatives are on display at a single location. The museum's goal of touching visitors' emotions appears to have been successful.

For example, a shirt worn by a 13-year-old junior high school student at the time of the bombing and his lunchbox are exhibited together with the words of his mother, "Why did you die before me?" This is heartbreaking.

The underpants worn by a boy who died at age 2 after suffering serious burns when he was carried on his mother's back at the time of the bombing are displayed along with his words, "It's hot. It's hot," as well as a photo of the smiling infant.

Displays also show the lives of war orphans and those who suffered A-bomb microcephaly, further highlighting the tragedy.

The atomic-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are also putting more efforts into international movements to rid the world of nuclear weapons. In their respective peace declarations, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki municipal governments are for the first time also calling on the central government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and seek its ratification.

It is the role of politics to respect such feelings. The international community has been drifting more toward conflict than cooperation since U.S. President Donald Trump came to power. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and Russia has expired, raising concerns that an arms race could intensify.

As the sole atomic-bombed country in the world, Japan needs to continue efforts to create a trend for nuclear abolition even if it is difficult.

A growing number of foreigners are visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. In fiscal 2018, foreigners accounted for nearly 30% of approximately 1.5 million visitors to the facility. Many of these foreigners have left messages praying for peace in visitor notebooks with comments such as, "I learned of the challenges that atomic-bomb survivors face and realized how happy we are now."

Visitors to the museum who view the displays will certainly realize the absurdity of nuclear arms. The Japanese government should try hard to spread such awareness on a global scale.

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