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PM Abe under fire over almost same speeches at Nagasaki, Hiroshima A-bomb ceremonies

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech at the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony on Aug. 9, 2020. (Mainichi/Noriko Tokuno)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has come under criticism from social media users, A-bomb survivors' groups and others after delivering a speech at an Aug. 9 ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki that closely resembled an address he made in Hiroshima three days prior.

    According to a plagiarism detection app, going by the number of characters, the Japanese version of the speech Abe made at the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony duplicated about 93% of the content of the one he delivered during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony.

    The full Japanese text of Abe's statements and their English translations can be seen on the official website of the prime minister's office.

    In the opening paragraph, Abe addresses the names of each ceremony and continues, "I reverently express my sincere condolences to the souls of the great number of atomic bomb victims. I also extend my heartfelt sympathy to those still suffering even now from the aftereffects of the atomic bomb." Aside from the names of the ceremony, they match word for word.

    Meanwhile, he used different expressions to praise the recovery of the two cities hit by atomic bombs in August 1945. In the Hiroshima ceremony he said, "Despite having been turned to ruins 75 years ago through the dropping of a single atomic bomb, this beautiful city admirably achieved reconstruction through the efforts of our forebears," while for Nagasaki he stated, "Seventy-five years ago today, Nagasaki was reduced to ashes, with not a single tree or blade of grass remaining. Yet through the efforts of its citizens, it achieved reconstruction beautifully as we see today." Though their wording is different, their content is very similar.

    The closing statements in each speech were exactly the same, with Abe stating, "I pledge that Japan will make its utmost efforts for the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons and eternal peace." Similarly, Abe's addresses at the two annual events were almost identical also in 2018 and 2019.

    Koichi Kawano, the 80-year-old head of the Nagasaki Prefecture peace movement center's hibakusha liaison council, said, "It's the same every year. He talks gibberish and leaves, as if to say, 'There you go. Goodbye.' He just swapped the word 'Hiroshima' to 'Nagasaki.' He's looking down on A-bomb survivors."

    Haruko Moritaki, the 81-year-old co-director of the Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, commented, "Prime Minister Abe says he will stay 'in tune with atomic bomb survivors, who are advancing in years,' but has not taken concrete action. He's all talk and no action, and that's showing in his addresses."

    (Japanese original by Asako Kamihigashi, Integrated Digital News Center, and Yuki Imano, Nagasaki Bureau)

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