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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Hiroshima pauses to remember atomic bombing 74 years after attack

The anniversary comes at a time when Japan’s nuclear-capable neighbour North Korea has been carrying out missile tests.

People pray for the atomic bomb victims in front of the cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (AP)
People pray for the atomic bomb victims in front of the cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (AP)

By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

Hiroshima has marked the 74rd anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city with its mayor renewing calls for eliminating such weapons and demanding Japan’s government do more.

Mayor Kazumi Matsui raised concerns in his peace address on Tuesday about the rise of self-centred politics in the world and urged leaders to steadily work toward achieving a world without atomic weapons.

“Around the world today, we see self-centred nationalism in ascendance, tensions heightened by international exclusivity and rivalry, with nuclear disarmament at a standstill,” Mr Matsui said in his peace declaration.

He urged the younger generations never to dismiss the atomic bombings and the war as a mere events of history, but think of them as their own, while calling on the world leaders to come visit the nuclear bombed cities to learn what happened.

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Smoke billows 20,000 feet above Hiroshima after the atomic attack (US Air Force/PA)

Mr Matsui also demanded Japan’s government represent the wills of atomic bombing survivors and sign a UN nuclear weapons ban treaty.

Japan, which hosts 50,000 American troops and is protected by the US nuclear umbrella, has not signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, an inaction atomic bombing survivors and pacifist groups protest as insincere.

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged widening differences between nuclear and non-nuclear states.

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A ceremony to mark the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing is held, in the background, as the Atomic Bomb Dome is seen in front at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima (AP)

“Japan is committed to serve as a bridge between nuclear and non-nuclear states and lead the international effort, while patiently trying to convince them to cooperate and have a dialogue,” Mr Abe said in his address at the ceremony.

He vowed to maintain Japan’s pacifist and nuclear nuclear-free principles, but did not promise to sign the treaty.

Survivors, their relatives and other participants marked the 8:15am blast with a minute of silence.

The Hiroshima anniversary ceremony came hours after North Korea launched suspected ballistic missiles in its fourth round of recent weapons demonstrations.

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A woman prays in front of the cenotaph (Kyodo/AP)

The activity follows a stalemate in negotiations over its nuclear weapons.

The US attack on Hiroshima on August 6 1945, killed 140,000 people.

The bomb dropped three days later on Nagasaki killed another 70,000 before Japan’s surrender ended the Second World War.

PA Media

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