At a drastically limited annual ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui called on the Japanese government to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), adopted by 122 countries in July 2017.
About 880 participants, including survivors of the nuclear attack, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and representatives from more than 80 countries, held a minute’s silence at 8.15 (23.15 GMT), the exact moment when the American atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. .
The general public, on the other hand, was not invited to the event because of COVID-19 and had to be content to watch the ceremony online. Other events were completely canceled, including the floating candle ceremony in Hiroshima, since nightfall every August 6 in memory of the victims.
“I am committed to doing everything possible to ensure a world without nuclear weapons and lasting peace,” promised Abe, who was often criticized for his intention to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution.
The “Little Boy” bomb killed about 140,000 people in Hiroshima. Many were killed on the spot and many more died from injuries or radiation in the weeks and months that followed.
Three days later, a second American atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki (southwest), killing another 74,000.
These two bombs of unprecedented destructive power at the time brought Japan to its knees: on August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced his surrender to the Allies, marking the end of World War II.
However, historians continue to debate whether this double nuclear attack even saved several lives by precipitating the end of the conflict.
Many consider war crimes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be war crimes because of the unprecedented scale of the devastation and the large number of civilian casualties.
The United States has never officially apologized. But in 2016, Barack Obama became the first US president to go to Hiroshima, where he paid tribute to the victims and called for a world without nuclear weapons.
Humanity is now battling a new threat: the new coronavirus, the mayor said at the Peace Memorial ceremony.
“However, with what we have learned from past tragedies, we should be able to overcome this threat,” he added.
“When the 1918 flu pandemic struck a century ago, it claimed tens of millions of lives and terrorized the world, while nations fighting in World War I were unable to cope with the threat together. of nationalism led to World War II and atomic bombings, “he noted.
“We must never allow this painful past to be repeated. Civil society must reject self-centered nationalism and unite against all threats,” Matsui stressed.
On August 9, 1945, another atomic bomb exploded over the southwestern Japanese city of Nagasaki. About 74,000 people died there by the end of the year.
Thousands of survivors are still affected by the side effects of the attacks.