German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock issued an urgent call on Sunday for a world without nuclear weapons as she visited Nagasaki, the Japanese city destroyed by a US nuclear bomb 77 years ago.
The attack on Nagasaki served as a reminder to work towards a world without nuclear weapons “even if we are a very long way away from it,” Baerbock said at the start of a two-day visit to Japan that forms part of her first official visit to a number of Asian countries.
Germany had to work towards “peace and a world without nuclear weapons” in the light of the fact that there had recently been an increase rather than a decline in nuclear weapons, the Green politician said.
Nagasaki, along with Hiroshima, represented a symbol as a warning against the use of nuclear weapons. Germany continued to support disarmament, “even if the global situation is currently completely different,” she said in clear reference to the war in Ukraine.
Earlier, Baerbock visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, laying a wreath to mark the destruction of the city on August 9, 1945.
As a 41-year-old mother of two small daughters, she spent some time looking at images showing children injured by the blast. She also met survivors of the attack.
Around 70,000 people were killed as an immediate result of the attack by the United States, with a further 75,000 injured. Three days earlier, a nuclear bomb devastated Hiroshima. The two attacks led Japan to capitulate on August 15, 1945.
Shigemitsu Tanaka, 82, a grey-haired survivor with a powerful voice, described the white flash of the explosion. He and his family survived, although many of his relatives, including his parents, became ill and some died of cancer.
He issued a call to work along with young people for a world without nuclear weapons, saying that “as the power of the individual is limited, we have to act as friends.”
In her address, Baerbock recalled that a bell from Nagasaki now hung in a church in her home city of Hanover that was destroyed in World War II.
Baerbock travels to Tokyo on Monday at the conclusion of her trip to Asia, where she will hold talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.
On the occasion of her first official visit to Japan, Baerbock is to discuss bilateral cooperation in the context of Germany’s Indo-Pacific policy.