It was a first for Hiroshima’s annual ceremony commemorating the victims of the Aug. 6, 1945 nuclear attack by the United States on Hiroshima. At the end of his peace message, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba switched from Japanese to English. It’s an effective way to drive home the efforts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear abolition is an international cause.
Speaking of nuclear abolition, Akiba concluded, “We have the power. We have the responsibility. And we are the Obamajority. Together, we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can.”
There are various views here on President Obama’s commitment to getting rid of nuclear weapons. But Akiba has taken the optimistic view that Obama meant what he said about working for nuclear disarmament and abolition. Not long after Obama’s speech on disarmament in Prague earlier this year, Akiba has used the word “Obamajority” to drive home the point that, worldwide, most people would love to be freed of nuclear weapons.
I happen to share the view that Obama means it. I also think that American University Associate Professor Peter Kuznick, who notes that Obama also wrote in favor of abolition in the 1980s, made perfect points in an outstanding Aug. 5 speech to peace activists here: Even if Obama is being rather timid in his attempts to reverse decades of pro-nuclear policy (or insanity, at some key times, as Kuznick argues persuasively) on the part of U.S. presidents, it is something to pay seize on. Obama, he said, cannot be allowed to fail. For that to happen, with conservatives and even some centrists already worrying about his stance, Obama will need all the support possible from anti-nuclear people in the United States, Japan and elsewhere if he is to achieve anything.
As Kuznick also said, with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger among those now saying that the world must be freed from the threat of nuclear weapons, there is “more momentum now toward nuclear abolition” than at any time since the 1980s. Obama has certainly done his part to fuel the hope expressed here today.