NEW YORK: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that he wants to visit Hiroshima next year, after his planned trip to the atomic-bombed western Japan city this summer was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In an online interview with Japanese media organizations, Guterres said that he had the opportunity to meet hibakusha atomic bomb survivors in the past, and that he was “deeply impressed by their moral authority, by their courage, by their resilience.”
“I think the world has a debt toward them,” he said. “And that debt should lead us to work much more effectively in relation to disarmament.”
The secretary-general was initially scheduled to attend the memorial ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, but instead sent a video message.
In 2010, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took part in the Aug. 6 memorial ceremony in Hiroshima, becoming the first UN chief to do so.
In 2018, Guterres became the first UN chief to attend the memorial event in the southwestern Japan city of Nagasaki, where atomic bombing took place three days after the attack on Hiroshima.
Also in the interview, Guterres touched upon the issue of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, between the United States and Russia. The treaty is set to expire next February, and the United States has demanded that China also enter the arms reduction pact.
“I do believe that the New START should be renewed independently of whatever might happen with China,” the secretary-general said.
He added that it is also important to create a more global framework for disarmament in which all powers become involved.
“We very much count on Japan to play a positive role, namely in the dialogue with nuclear powers in order to make sure that the disarmament agenda moves forward as it is absolutely essential,” Guterres said.