Hiroshima marks 73rd anniversary of atomic bombing in WWII

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also was at the ceremony, reiterated Japan's pledge to maintain its pacifist and non-nuclear principles.

Mayor Kazumi Matsui opened his address at the annual ceremony by describing the scene on August 6, 1945, and the agony of the victims, telling the audience to listen "as if you and your loved ones were there".

As of March, the number of "hibakusha" or atomic bomb survivors stood at 154,859.

In Friday, Aug. 8, 2018, photo, Namio Matsura, 17-year-old member of the computation skill research club at Fukuyama Technical High School, watches Hiroshima city before atomic bomb fell in virtual reality experience at the high school in Hiroshima, western Japan.

Organizers of this year's observance hope to draw attention to the treaty and have the U.S.be the first of the nuclear powers to take the first steps in ratifying it.

"Certain countries are blatantly proclaiming self-centered nationalism and modernising their nuclear arsenals, rekindling tensions that had eased with the end of the Cold War, " Matsui said, without identifying the countries.

The role Japan can play as the only country to have suffered atomic bombing has come into sharper focus with the world still far from being nuclear-free.

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"Our nation, while maintaining our (non-nuclear weapons) principles, will patiently work to serve as a bridge between the two sides and lead efforts by the worldwide community" to reduce nuclear weapons, Abe said. "That is precisely why we must continue talking about Hiroshima", Matsui said.

Speakers include Michael Vaughn, a military veteran; Denise Donnell of the Just Communities of Arkansas organization; Tristan Norman, a Hendrix College student-delegate who visited Japan earlier this year; and Frank LeBlanc, pastor of Westover Hills Presbyterian Church. The bombings claimed 1 Lakh 40 thousand lives in Hiroshima and 74 thousand in Nagasaki.

Makita said for a long time the experience of the bombing was "so painful" to recall, but from around the 70th anniversary of the attack she has started to feel the need to share her experience with her grandchildren.

Another Hiroshima resident Yoshinobu Ota, 71, was born after the bombing.

Three days later, a second U.S. atomic bomb killed 70,000 people in Nagasaki.

'Those who knew the city very well tell us it's done very well.

His call however highlighted Japan's contradictory relationship with nuclear weapons.

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