The first stop on the trip, which began August 5, was Japan to attend commemorations in Hiroshima, a city that, like Nagasaki, served as a testing ground for the first nuclear attack in human history.
Guterres honored there not only the victims of the US bombing of both Japanese cities, but also of the Second World War (1939-1945) and repeated
the urgency of eliminating the nuclear threat.
According to the United Nations, nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons are currently in arsenals around the world, and all at a time when proliferation risks are rising and barriers to prevent escalation are weakening.
During his stay in Japan, Guterres met with the highest authorities in that country and with a group of survivors of the nuclear tragedy (hibakusha).
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were ordered in 1945 by Harry S. Truman, then President of the United States.
According to historians, the explosive devices fired in Hiroshima on August 6 of the same year and in Nagasaki three days later on August 9 constituted colossal acts of terrorism, undeniable war crimes.
In Hiroshima alone, around 140,000 people died out of an estimated population of 350,000, while in Nagasaki around 74,000 of that city’s residents lost their lives.
The use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused a humanitarian catastrophe unprecedented in history and “heralded the beginning of a new era in which humanity could bring about its own extinction,” Guterres said in a statement.
He warned of the danger posed by the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which “reminds us that at any moment we are minutes away from possible annihilation.”
From Japan, the UN’s highest official traveled to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, where he explained that this country was setting an example as a nuclear-weapon-free zone on a planet with dramatic geopolitical divisions and conflicts spreading everywhere with their consequences.
“There is only one way to be absolutely certain that nuclear war is impossible,” Guterres said, “and that is if there are no nuclear weapons.”
Guterres met with Mongolian President Khürelsükh Ukhnaa and other senior officials, with whom he discussed the geopolitical situation in the region, challenges facing Mongolia as a landlocked country and efforts to address climate change.
Along with youth and peacekeepers, he also attended an event for the Mongolian “Billion Trees” campaign, which aims to mitigate the effects of global warming and desertification.
The final stop on the Asian tour was Korea Republic, where Guterres was due to score with the this Friday
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.
A common denominator in the Secretary-General’s messages was that in these times of high tension and low levels of trust, the lessons of Nagasaki must be learned: disarmament, reconciliation and the search for peace are the only way forward, for the good of all.