Hiroshima recalls atomic horror on 72nd anniversary of bombing
HIROSHIMA, Japan — Hiroshima, one of the two Japanese cities to suffer US atomic bombing in 1945 during World War II, commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the tragedy on Sunday at the city’s Peace Memorial Park, with its mayor calling for peace and a world free of nuclear weapons.
More than 50,000 people attended the ceremony, including survivors of the attack, their descendants, peace activists and representatives from some 80 countries and regions.
Kazumi Matsui, mayor of the city, made a peace declaration to the audience. He mentioned the loss of lives and culture and the sufferings caused by the atomic bombing and urged the Japanese government to “do all in its power” to facilitate a nuclear weapon-free world.
He also urged the government to give more support to the surviving victims of the 1945 atomic bombings and “many others who also suffered mentally and physically from the effects of radiation”.
Japan is the only country to have suffered atomic attacks.
Japanese officials routinely argue that they abhor nuclear weapons, but the nation’s defense is firmly set under the US nuclear umbrella.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a speech at the ceremony, in which he made no mention of the historical background of the atomic bombings or Japan’s aggressive war against its neighbors.
“By firmly maintaining our three non-nuclear principles (of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory) and continuing to appeal to both nuclear and non-nuclear states, Japan is determined to lead the international community,” he said.
While Abe spoke, shouts of protest rang out from people around the park, protesting against the prime minister’s long-held ambition of revising the pacifist Constitution and other policies that they say could bring Japan to war, as well as the recent scandals that have plunged approval rating.
Hundreds of protesters gathered around the park, holding banners and shouting slogans such as “Oppose war and Constitution revision” and “Abe should step down”.
“I’m against Abe attending this ceremony, for his administration only protects the interests of some people and he tries to revise the pacifist Constitution and could drag Japan into war,” said Takehiko Matsumoto, a protester from Sendai.
To accelerate Japan’s surrender in World War II, the United States forces dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug 6 and Aug 9, 1945. The bombings claimed the lives of 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 74,000 people in Nagasaki. Some died immediately while others succumbed to injuries or radiation-related illnesses weeks, months and years later.
Japan eventually surrendered to the Allied Forces on Aug 15, 1945, bringing an end to World War II. Abe’s
I’m against Abe attending this ceremony, ... he tries to revise the pacifist Constitution and could drag Japan into war.” Takehiko Matsumoto, protester in Hiroshima died as the US forces dropped an atomic bomb in the city in 1945.
Protesters hold banners and shout slogans against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Hiroshima, Japan, on Sunday.