The United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively, with the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, and remain the only uses of nuclear weapons in armed conflict.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination. It was passed on 7 July 2017. In order to come into effect, signature and ratification by at least 50 countries is required. As of July 2020, 40 states have ratified the treaty.
Religions for Peace Australia seeks peace in Australia, and peace on Earth. To this end we strive to build strong interfaith relations, promote cooperation, harmony and understanding among the faiths in Australia and seek to build same in all states and in Parliament House, Canberra, by observance of World Interfaith Harmony Week. Here, the Chair of Religions for Peace Australia gives reflections on 75 Years since the Hiroshima bombing.
75 Years since the Hiroshima Bombing
A Message from Religions for Peace Australia
Today is a sad day in modern global history. It is 75 years since the US bomber, Enola Gay, dropped the first atomic bomb upon the defenceless Japanese city of Hiroshima causing the deaths of 100,000+ people. Of course Hiroshima cannot be separated from Pearl Harbour, and the ethics of the first atomic bombing have continued to be debated ever since. Japan is the only country ever to have suffered atomic attacks – as a result, it put in place a peace constitution immediately after World War II.
The memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a major driving force in the foundation of Religions for Peace International, formerly known as the World Conference of Religions for Peace. During the 1960s, seven religious leaders from the US, Japan, India and Germany came together to begin building a global movement.
At the first world assembly held in Kyoto in October 1970, the very first greetings were given by the Buddhist leader, Lord Abbot Kosko Ohtani who said that “ours is a nation that has absolutely discarded all aggressive war potential through the promulgation of a ‘peace constitution’”. The first WCRP President, Nikkyo Niwano, spoke of how “the time has arrived when religions, instead of antagonizing each other because of what we once thought was a religious conviction, should co-operate with each other to contribute to the cause of mankind and world peace”
The 20th century has been called many things such as the Century of the Holocaust and Genocide. But equally it can be called the Multireligious Century. From the beginning, those seven religious leaders realized that peace can only be an abstraction unless we also deal with global poverty, environmental degradation, human rights abuses, discrimination, small wars and ethnonationalism.
This remains our challenge today. And this is the central message of today’s sorrow-filled Hiroshima commemoration.
Chair, Religions for Peace Australia