Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell recently met with Emiko Yamanaka (standing to his left), a “hibakusha” (or survivor) of the Hiroshima bombing, during his current trip to Japan. Saanich is in talks to strike a sister-city relationship with Hatsukaichi City near Hiroshima. Photo submitted

Saanich mayor participates in Hiroshima Peace Ceremony

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell, who is currently in Japan as part of efforts to build a sister-city relationship with Hatsukaichi City, described attending the recent Hiroshima Peace Ceremony as extremely emotional.

“I’ve never experienced such a solemn event but it is also inspiring to see how committed the people of Japan are to peace and nuclear disarmament,” said Atwell.

The ceremony held Aug. 6 marked the 73rd anniversary of the first nuclear attack in human history, when the American warplane Enola Gay dropped a nuclear bomb code-named Little Boy over the Japanse coastal city of Hiroshima during the final days of the Second World War.

The attack – followed by a second nuclear attack two days later on Nagaskai – killed anywhere between 90,000 and 146,000 in Hiroshima, with the Nagasaki attack claiming anywhere between 39,000 and 80,000 lives.

While the attacks prompted the eventual surrender of Japan, it has also turned Hiroshima into a symbol for nuclear disarmament, where the ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall stand as they did on the day of the attack. Atwell also had a chance to meet a survivor (or “hibakusha”) of the attack.

“This isn’t a topic often talked about in Canada but touches the lives of Hiroshima citizens every day,” he said. “After this experience, I am going to increase my participation through Mayors for Peace.”

Atwell was able to visit the site because Hiroshima lies less than half an hour away from Hatsukaichi City, which had sent a delegation to Saanich in late April.

Atwell is now returning the favour with visits to local sites including the Miyajima Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“We [also] spent a day at the Hatsukaichi Internatinal Association, participating in cultural activities with students from around the world to understand what a Saanich experience would be in the future,” he said, adding that he plans to submit a report to council following his return on Aug. 10.

Atwell’s final stop will be at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, where he will meet with trade officials representing British Columbia in Japan.

Atwell is travelling on official business, while his partner is travelling at her own expense.

Just Posted

Purple Day marks long journey for Gorge resident

Legislative Assembly to recognize epilepsy on Tuesday

Souper Bowls cook up support for Victoria youth

Youth Empowerment Society fundraising event set for April 4 at Crystal Gardens

Victoria Royals look ahead to Game 3 in playoff series

Best of seven series tied 1-1 after weekend play

UVic project shows Keating Elementary students a helping hand

Victoria Hand Project offers free 3D printed arms in eight countries

Unpaid cabbie call leads to arrest in Oak Bay

Police briefs: Electric bike swiped, truck rummaged, impaired driver stopped

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Eight-year sentence imposed in 2010 would have ended last October had Khadr remained in custody

Kamloops chamber of commerce director let go after controversial Facebook posts

Facebook account had derogatory comments about Muslims, Justin Trudeau

B.C. RCMP officer cleared after Taser incident seriously injures woman

Woman with knives refused to comply with orders therefore officer used appropriate level of force

‘Bikinishe’ swimwear retailer prompts Better Business Bureau warning

Watchdog has gotten dozens of complaints about company, which has been using fake Vancouver address

Woman wants Tofino to get a nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

Sparks fly as SUV speeds wrong way down Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

B.C. doctor fined $5,000 for accessing records of woman pregnant with his child

Doctor admits to accessing records of the woman carrying his child

Most Read