Former Nagasaki mayor Hitoshi Motoshima dies aged 92

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 November, 2014, 3:40am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 November, 2014, 3:40am

Former Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima, who was shot in the back by a member of a right-wing group in 1990 after saying Emperor Hirohito bore responsibility for the second world war, died in a hospice yesterday aged 92.

Motoshima served as Nagasaki mayor for four terms after first being elected in April 1979.

After saying at the city assembly in 1988, "I believe the Emperor has responsibility for the war", he was shot by a senior member of a right-wing group and seriously injured. He returned to his duties about 40 days after the incident.

A former high school teacher, Motoshima also sparked public criticism in Japan with comments in 1998 that Japan deserved the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that all Japanese citizens have a duty to apologise for what Japan did to other Asian nations during the second world war.

The bombs, dropped in August, 1945, killed and injured 130,000 people in Hiroshima, almost half the city's population, and 74,000 in Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands of survivors suffered cancer and other radiation after-effects.

As mayor of Nagasaki, Motoshima called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and after he retired from politics he campaigned to achieve lasting peace in and outside Japan.

In 2002 Motoshima, a Catholic, was awarded both the first Korea/Japan Peace and Fellowship Prize.