The first stop on the trip – which began on August 5 – was Japan, to attend the commemorations in Hiroshima, a city that, like Nagasaki, served as the test site for the first atomic attack in human history.
Guterres honored there not only the victims of the bombs dropped by the United States on both Japanese cities, but also of the Second World War (1939-1945) and reiterated
the urgency of eliminating the nuclear danger.
According to data from the United Nations, there are currently almost 13,000 nuclear weapons in arsenals globally, all at a time when the risks of proliferation are increasing and the barriers to prevent escalation are weakening.
During his stay in Japan, Guterres met with the highest authorities of that country and with a group of survivors of the atomic tragedy (hibakusha).
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were ordered in 1945 by Harry S. Truman, then president of the United States.
In the opinion of historians, the explosives, launched on August 6 of that year in Hiroshima and three days later, on the 9th, in Nagasaki, constituted enormous acts of terrorism, unquestionable war crimes.
In Hiroshima alone, some 140,000 people died out of an estimated population of 350,000 inhabitants, while in Nagasaki around 74,000 residents of that city lost their lives.
The use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused a humanitarian catastrophe unique in history and “heralded the beginning of a new era in which humanity could bring about its own extinction,” Guterres stressed in a message.
He warned of the danger posed by the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which “reminds us that we are, at any moment, a few minutes away from possible annihilation.”
From Japan, the highest representative of the UN traveled to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, where he stated that on a planet with dramatic geopolitical divisions and in which conflicts proliferate everywhere, that country -as a zone free of nuclear weapons- is an example to follow.
“There is only one way to be absolutely certain that a nuclear war is impossible,” Guterres said, “and that way is if there are no nuclear weapons.”
Guterres met with Mongolian President Khürelsükh Ukhnaa and other high-ranking officials, with whom he discussed the geopolitical situation in the region, the challenges Mongolia faces as a landlocked country, and efforts to cope with climate change.
He also participated, along with youth and peacekeepers, in an event for Mongolia’s “Billion Trees” campaign, which aims to mitigate the effects of global warming and desertification.
The last point of the Asian tour was the Republic of Korea, where this Friday Guterres was scheduled to meet with the
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.
A common denominator in the secretary-general’s messages was that, in these times of high tensions and low levels of trust, the lessons of Nagasaki must be drawn: disarmament, reconciliation and the search for peace are the only way forward, For the good of all.