In Hiroshimas Peace Park memorial, there is a flame which has been burning since it was ignited on August 1, 1964. The people of Hiroshima vowed to keep it burning until the very last nuclear weapon is abolished from the planet. August 6th and 9th marks 78 years after the US detonated nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. Today, we remember those who suffered because of this unfathomable act of violence.
PCC Ecumenical Enabler for Climate Justice Bedi Racule reflected on her experience in Hiroshima last year:
“After my visit to Hiroshima, it took me many days to process all of the horrors I had seen. The consequences of nuclear weapons are so terrifying and lasting that I cannot understand why any country would ever want to inflict such evil on innocent men, women and children. There was so much suffering.
Despite their past, the people of Hiroshima were always full of optimism and hope. I came to learn that personal faith was a vital source of strength and resilience for Japanese peace advocates. They inspired me with their own faith to turn to God for moments of silence, prayers and reflection so that I could restore my own peace.
In the Pacific we are reminded of a parallel nuclear legacy which is full of hardship, pain and loss. We stand in solidarity with communities who continue to struggle with the consequences of nuclear weapons and our own faith in God provides a great challenge to seek and create peace. We draw upon this peace so that we can share it in solidarity with the Hibakusha of Japan, with affected communities of nuclear weapons and with others throughout the world.
It is difficult to speak of justice as a Marshallese daughter, when the scars of nuclear testing are permanent; but I look forward to the day when the vision of the peace flame in Hiroshima is realized.”
On this day, Pacific churches continue stand in solidarity with the Hibakusha of Japan for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. The threat of nuclear detonation is more prominent than ever, and new forms of nuclear colonialism which include increased militarism, geopolitics and nuclear power threaten Pacific environments, health and livelihoods.
In particular, churches remain at the forefront of protests against radioactive waste dumping into the ocean by Japans TEPCO power plant – in July of 2023, endorsing an open letter to Pacific leaders to take Japan to task at the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
As Pacific communities reflect on their anti-nuclear legacy and the ongoing, intergenerational challenges facing the region, the words of The Rarotonga Treaty (South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty) ring true: that states are “Determined to ensure, so far as lies within their pow- er, that the bounty and beauty of the land and sea in their region shall remain the heritage of their peoples and their descendants in perpetuity to be enjoyed by all in peace.”
The Right Reverend Dr. Jack Urame, Head Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea shared in a theological reflection at PCCs Faith Leaders Dialogue on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons:
“Jesus came to restore the fullness of human life and its goodness, which men lost in the beginning. The fullness of life is a life that is balanced. It is a life free from violence, from suffering, from sickness, from depression, from suppression, from harm and from the threat of nuclear weapons.”
May we continue to strive to be peacemakers and push for the total abolition of nuclear weapons.
To read and endorse the open letter to Pacific leaders, please visit: https://forms.gle/B1poCruiLyKcYz9W8