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

Saanich wants bunkers to be off limits for cannabis growing

Saanich looks to block cement bunkers on ALR farmland

UPDATE: Missing Langford teen found safe

The 13-year-old Langford boy reported missing Wednesday has been found

Victoria police seize over one kilo of fentanyl, guns and cars

Andrew Ritch is facing charges of drug trafficking and firearm offences

Fire chief stops driving lesson to fight fire

Sooke fire concerned over second suspicious bin fire this year

Tour de Victoria rolls through the region Saturday

Expect traffic delays across Greater Victoria on Aug. 18

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

UPDATED: Vancouver Island community under evacuation alert due to wildfire

BC Wildfire Service says steep terrain near Zeballos poses challenge as “out of control” wildfire approaches homes

Most Read