Statement by President Charles Michel during his visit to Hiroshima

(Source: Council of the EU and European Council)

I would like to thank Mayor Matsui for his kind invitation. It’s an honour to visit this city and this park.

I leave this museum with a deep feeling of sorrow and of horror. The suffering and the devastation that occurred here and in Nagasaki is haunting, even today, seventy-seven years later.

But I also leave this museum seized by an intense determination to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction, and this city is a stark reminder of the urgency.

We have international rules and global institutions for nuclear disarmament and arms control. We must protect them and strengthen them to secure peace and security.

But as we speak, global security is under threat. Russia, a nuclear-armed state, and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, is attacking the sovereign nation of Ukraine, while making shameful and unacceptable references to the use of nuclear weapons.

This is not only shaking the security of Europe, it’s dangerously raising the stakes for the whole world. And here, in your neighbourhood, North Korea’s illegal and provocative missile tests, like the one that took place only yesterday, are driving up tensions and endangering our safety.

These urgent challenges are precisely why partnerships built on peace and rules-based international order – like our Japan-EU partnership – are so important, are so vital.

Yesterday in Tokyo, together with Prime Minister Kishida, we stood side by side to reaffirm our common values and democratic principles.

We also stand together for the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and we agreed to reinforce our cooperation on security and defence, including on disarmament and non-proliferation.

We will also continue our ceaseless efforts to preserve the international agreement with Iran – the so-called JCPOA – which can remove the spectre of nuclear weapons in their hands.

Our generation’s duty is to strengthen existing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation norms and make them universal.

Standing here today in the hometown of the Prime Minister of Japan, I feel the strong bond between Europe and Japan.

So it’s no surprise that Europe and Japan, which suffered through the death and devastation of world wars, are so determined to make sure this never happens again.

Il y a des moments dans l’histoire de chacun d’entre nous qui nous marquent à tout jamais. Et indiscutablement, cette visite de ce musée restera pour moi une empreinte indélébile.

Je suis naturellement extrêmement ému par les images de souffrance, par les images dramatiques, par les images tragiques, par le visage des enfants, des femmes et des hommes, qui ont été directement affectés dans leur chair par cette tragédie.

Cette tragédie a montré le pire de la nature humaine.

Mais cette tragédie a aussi montré le courage, la résilience et la force de celles et ceux qui ensuite se sont levés pour reconstruire et rallumer la flamme de l’espoir.

Et je forme le vœu que chaque être humain ait accès à la connaissance de l’histoire de l’humanité afin d’avoir la force de regarder l’avenir avec plus de confiance et plus d’optimisme.

Et plus particulièrement je forme le vœu que les leaders politiques, qui ont une responsabilité particulière, témoignent aussi de ce devoir de mémoire afin de prendre des décisions qui soient justes pour la paix et pour la sécurité dans le monde.

Je voudrais vous remercier, Monsieur le Maire, ainsi que les autorités du musée, pour m’avoir donné l’occasion de visiter votre ville et ce musée. Soyez convaincus que je quitterai Hiroshima et le Japon avec en moi le souvenir de cette visite marquante.

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