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Hiroshima marks 75th anniversary of atomic attack as survivors

Hiroshima Marks 75th Anniversary of Atomic Attack

HIROSHIMA, Japan – Survivors of the world’s first atomic bombing rallied in small numbers near an iconic and ruined dome on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the attack, many of them urging the world and its government to do more to ban nuclear weapons.
An increase in coronavirus cases in Japan meant much smaller participation than usual, but the message from the bombing survivors was more urgent than ever. As their numbers decrease, their average age is approximately 83 years, many nations have reinforced or maintained their nuclear arsenals, and their government refuses to sign a nuclear weapons ban treaty.
The United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. The United States dropped a second bomb three days later on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000 people.
Japan surrendered on August 15, ending World War II and its near half-century of aggression in Asia.
But the decades since have seen the stockpiling of Cold War weapons and a nuclear showdown between nations that continues to this day.
Amid solemn memories at Hiroshima Peace Park, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was confronted on Thursday by six members of groups of survivors of the treaty.
“Could you respond to our request to sign the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty?” Tomoyuki Mimaki, a member of a large group of survivors, Hidankyo, implored Abe.
“The milestone of the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing is an opportunity” to change course.
Abe insisted on Japan’s policy of not signing the treaty, vaguely citing a “different approach,” although he added that the government shares the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons.
Abe, in his speech at the ceremony, said that a world free of nuclear weapons cannot be achieved overnight and that it must start with dialogue.
“Japan’s position is to serve as a bridge between the different parties and patiently promote their dialogue and actions to achieve a world without nuclear weapons,” Abe said.
Previously, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged world leaders to commit more seriously to nuclear disarmament, signalling Japan’s failures.
“I ask the Japanese government to heed the call of the (bombing survivors) to sign, ratify and become part of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty,” Matsui said in his peace statement.
“As the only nation to suffer a nuclear attack, Japan must persuade the world public to unite with the spirit of Hiroshima.”
Thursday’s peace ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. The less than 1,000 attendees were a tenth of the attendees in recent years.
“The only way to eliminate nuclear risk is to eliminate nuclear weapons,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message from New York for the occasion.
Guterres’ expected visit to Hiroshima had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus.
“Seventy-five years is too long not to have learned that possession of nuclear weapons decreases, rather than strengthens, security,” he said.
“Today, a world without nuclear weapons appears to be escaping our grasp.”
Survivors of the bombing, known as hibakusha, lamented the slow progress of nuclear disarmament and expressed anger at what they said was the reluctance of the Japanese government.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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