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Monday, 7th November 2016
In General Japan News,

Foreign dignitaries visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki in wake of Obama trip

More dignitaries from around the world have organised their schedules to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki after President Obama made the journey earlier this year. Among those attending the atomic bomb-hit cities are Valentina Matviyenko, chair of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Obama has led the way, after his historic visit in May represented the first time a US president in office had attended either site since they were bombed in 1945. It was seen as an act of friendship between the nations.

Matviyenko is the most recent high profile visitor, having made the trip just last week (November 3rd), touring the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. She also presented flowers at the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial for the Atomic Bomb Victims.

Speaking to reporters, she said that campaigns to ensure that Nagasaki remains the last place to have such a fate have her full support. Monuments at the cities stand testament to their history and act as a permanent reminder of the events that took place.

The Nagasaki Municipal Government highlighted that Matviyenko was the fourth international dignitary to include the site in her plans since the year 2000. Joachim Gauck, the German president, will attend the Nagasaki Peace Park later this month.

In the 2014-15 fiscal year, nine high level figures included Hiroshima in their itineraries. Nazarbayev, who will attend on Wednesday (November 9th), is a strong supporter of nuclear disarmament.
It was in the last days on World War II when on August 6th 1945, an atomic bomb dropped by US forces devastated the city of Hiroshima. Just three days later, Nagasaki suffered a similar attack, changing the lives of its residents forever.

Among those making the trip are not just the leaders and representatives of countries, but also people from organisations that understand the human cost of such events. Peter Maurer, president for the International Committee of the Red Cross, was in Nagasaki this weekend.

He met with Timihisa Taue, the mayor of Nagasaki, and discussed the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons across the world. Taue said: “We want the leaders of nuclear nations to understand what happened beneath the mushroom cloud.”

It is hoped that in seeing the devastation that is wrought first-hand, dignitaries will take home a powerful message of peace and understanding. UN resolutions led by Japan in 2015 and 2016 called on world leaders and young people to visit bombed-out cities. It seems this call has been heeded by some.