Hiroshima marked the 74th anniversary of its atomic bombing by the United States on Tuesday, with tens of thousands of people attending a ceremony at ground zero.
In a speech, Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged the government to join a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons.
But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, also present, declined to do so, saying the treaty does not reflect security realities.
Japan is not alone in staying outside the treaty. Other countries under the U.S. nuclear umbrella have not signed up, and nor have the world’s nuclear-armed states.
“I call on the government of the only country to experience a nuclear weapon in war to accede to the hibakushas’ [persons affected by the bomb] request that the TPNW be signed and ratified,” Matsui said, referring to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The TPNW was passed in July 2017 with the support of 122 nations.
“I urge Japan’s leaders to manifest the pacifism of the Japanese Constitution by displaying leadership in taking the next step toward a world free from nuclear weapons,” he said.
For the past two years, Matsui has stopped short of explicitly demanding that Japan join the treaty, citing his wish to not make political capital from the peace declaration. The treaty is not yet in force since it has not been ratified by the required 50 states.
Abe did not mention the treaty in his speech at the ceremony but pledged instead that Japan will serve tenaciously as a “mediator between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states” and “take the lead in making such efforts” in the international community.
This year’s memorial events come in the wake of the abrogation of the INF treaty by the USA and Russia.