Japan pro-Palestine group: Why aren't Hiroshima city officials speaking out on Gaza?

Japan pro-Palestine group: Why aren't Hiroshima city officials speaking out on Gaza?
Activists have issued a complaint to Hiroshima officials about the city’s response to ongoing Israeli attacks- despite its devastating history
3 min read
17 February, 2024
People gather to show solidarity with Palestinians and protest against ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza in Tokyo, Japan [Getty]

Japanese pro-Palestine organisers have campaigned in Hiroshima for its city officials to respond to Israel’s relentless military offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to Japanese news publication Mainichi Shimbun on Saturday.

The activist group Hiroshima-Palestine Vigil Community was reported to have demonstrated at the Atomic Bomb Dome nightly to protest the war on Gaza, with the group also questioning Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui over his silence on Israel's atrocities in the Palestinian enclave.

The Atomic Bomb Dome, also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, represents the last standing structure in the area where the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. 

Nearly 79 years later, Hiroshima citizens are urging the city that has long stood for world peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons to break its silence on the brutal conflict in Gaza. 

On Tuesday, four members of Hiroshima-Palestine Vigil Community hand-delivered letters addressed to Matsui and the Hiroshima Municipal Assembly and sought responses about the city’s inactivity.   

A list of questions derived from the group’s letter was read aloud by the campaigners. 

"Do you recognize that the Israeli attack on Gaza is a large-scale military attack against civilians in violation of international law and also a genocide to eliminate a group of people?," one asked. 

"Are you aware that the current situation in Gaza is a nuclear issue?"  

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Israeli far-right heritage minister Amihai Eliyahu had stated that the use of a nuclear strike on Gaza was "an option" in November of last year. Tel Aviv is widely believed to have hundreds of nuclear warheads, despite its official silence on the matter. 

"It's Hiroshima, a city known worldwide for symbolizing the anti-war movement, that should be taking the lead in raising a red flag on the situation in Gaza,” the group’s representatives said. 

The activists had also compared Hiroshima’s immediate condemnation to Russia’s invasion on Ukraine in 2022 to the response on Gaza. 

A week following the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Hiroshima’s city assembly passed a resolution, where they had denounced Russia’s military action. 

"We are infuriated, as it tramples on the heart of Hiroshima, which hopes for eternal world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons,” they said in a statement. 

Hiroshima-Palestine Vigil Community called out the suspected double standards to the reactions of the Ukraine and Gaza conflicts. 

"Hiroshima has a responsibility to uphold its commitment to peace," group member Rebecca Maria Goldschmidt told Mainichi. 

US nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to the killings of over 266,000 people in August 1945.


It is believed that an additional 526,000 survivors later died due to their exposure to the radioactive fallout of the bombings.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor issued a report in November of last year that Israel dropped over 25,000 tons of explosives on the Gaza Strip, making it equivalent to two nuclear bombs.  

The human rights organisation emphasised that the nuclear bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki weighed at about 15,000 tons of explosives. 

“This means that the destructive power of the explosives dropped on Gaza exceeds that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima,” Euro-Med Monitor said in a statement. 

Goldschmidt, a Jewish American university student whose great-grandparents were killed during the Holocaust, pleaded for Hiroshima’s government officials, locals and visitors to take a firm stance against Israel's destruction of Gaza.

She told the Japanese outlet that as a Jewish person, it was her responsibility to be critical of Israel’s conduct. 

"Our ancestors did not die in death camps for us to do the same to other people," Goldschmidt said. 

The health ministry in Gaza said Saturday at least 28,858 people have been killed in the besieged Palestinian territory. 

68,667 people have also been wounded in Gaza since the war erupted on 7 October.