Japan marks 70th anniversary of Hiroshima atomic bombing

HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) — Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Thursday, with Mayor Kazumi Matsui renewing calls for U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders to step up efforts toward making a nuclear-weapons-free world.

Doves fly over the cenotaph dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombing at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park during the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombing in Hiroshima, western Japan, Aug. 6, 2015 | AP Photo by Eugene Hoshiko, St. George News
Doves fly over the cenotaph dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombing at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park during the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombing in Hiroshima, western Japan, Aug. 6, 2015 | AP Photo by Eugene Hoshiko, St. George News

Tens of thousands of people stood for a minute of silence at 8:15 a.m. at a ceremony in Hiroshima’s peace park near the epicenter of the 1945 attack, marking the moment of the blast. Then dozens of doves were released as a symbol of peace.

The U.S. bomb, “Little Boy,” the first nuclear weapon used in war, killed 140,000 people. A second bomb, “Fat Man,” dropped over Nagasaki three days later, killed another 70,000, prompting Japan’s surrender in World War II.

The U.S. dropped the bombs to avoid what would have been a bloody ground assault on the Japanese mainland, following the fierce battle for Japan’s southernmost Okinawan islands, which took 12,520 American lives and an estimated 200,000 Japanese, about half civilians.

Matsui called nuclear weapons “the absolute evil and ultimate inhumanity” that must be abolished, and criticized nuclear powers for keeping them as threats to achieve their national interests. He said the world still bristles with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons.

Visitors observe a minute of silence for the victims of the atomic bombing,  at 8:15am, the time atomic bomb exploded over the city,  at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park during the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombing in Hiroshima, western Japan, Aug. 6, 2015 | AP Photo by Eugene Hoshiko, St. George News
Visitors observe a minute of silence for the victims of the atomic bombing, at 8:15am, the time atomic bomb exploded over the city, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park during the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombing in Hiroshima, western Japan, Aug. 6, 2015 | AP Photo by Eugene Hoshiko, St. George News

He renewed an invitation to world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see the scars themselves, during the G-7 summit in Japan next year.

“President Obama and other policymakers, please come to the A-bombed cities, hear the hibakusha (surviving victims) with your own ears, and encounter the reality of the atomic bombings,” he said. “Surely, you will be impelled to start discussing a legal framework, including a nuclear weapons convention.”

The anniversary comes as Japan is divided over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to pass unpopular legislation to expand the country’s military role internationally, a year after his Cabinet’s decision to loosen Japan’s war-renouncing constitution by adopting a new interpretation of it.

“We must establish a broad national security framework that does not rely on use of force but is based on trust,” Matsui said. He urged the Japanese government to stick with “the pacifism of the Japanese Constitution” to lead the global effort of no proliferation.

Abe, also addressing the ceremony, said that as the sole country to face a nuclear attack, Japan had a duty to push for the elimination of nuclear weapons. He pledged to promote the cause through international conferences to be held in Hiroshima later this month.

Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing on Hiroshima. Visitors pray for the atomic bomb victims in front of the cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, Aug. 6, 2015 | AP Photo by Koji Ueda, St. George News
Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing on Hiroshima. Visitors pray for the atomic bomb victims in front of the cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, Aug. 6, 2015 | AP Photo by Koji Ueda, St. George News

With the average age of survivors now exceeding 80 for the first time this year, passing on their stories is considered an urgent task. There were 5,359 hibakusha who died over the past year, bringing the total death toll from the Hiroshima bombing to 297,684.

U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and representatives from more than 100 countries, including Britain, France and Russia, attended the ceremony.

“Little Boy,” dropped from the Enola Gay B-29 bomber, destroyed 90 percent of the city. A “black rain” of radioactive particles followed the blinding blast and fireball and has been linked to higher rates of cancer and other radiation-related diseases among the survivors.

Story by KAORI HITOMI and MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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12 Comments

  • Brian August 6, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a stain on American history. Yes, it stopped the war and saved many lives in the process, but military installations should have been bombed, not civilian populations. Today both are beautiful, thriving cities.

    • wilbur August 6, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      Nanking, Bataan, Pearl Harbor, and the butchery of millions of Chinese, Philippine, Burmese and other civilians are a far bigger stain on Japanese history than the bombings are on ours.

      • Brian August 6, 2015 at 3:59 pm

        Pretty much every country has its stains (US, Japan, Russia, China, Vietnam, etc, etc, etc). But some Americans think America can do no wrong to the point that even our farts don’t stink, and it isn’t true. I think America is the greatest nation ever in the history of the world, I really do, but no good can come from ignoring our own warts or pretending we don’t have any. That’s the only reason I mentioned the stain of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It breaks my heart that we’re turning away from our greatness as a nation by choosing “rights” over responsibilities, and idols over character.

        • wilbur August 7, 2015 at 1:29 pm

          You claim Hiro and Nagi are a stain; to myself and many others it brings a secret smile to our face every begining of August.

          As Will Smith once said: “don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin”.

          Now go back to clutching your pearls.

          • fun bag August 7, 2015 at 2:08 pm

            a psychopath named Wilbur that quotes will smith… hmm…

    • 42214 August 6, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      You’re a pathetic apologist. Using the bomb was justified and saved American lives. The fire bombing of Tokyo was more Leihal. Too bad we didn’t have the bomb sooner so we could have saved more American lives.

      • xbcmc059 August 6, 2015 at 10:54 pm

        42214 Well said….. Personally, I celebrated today by wearing my B-29 Superfortress T-shirt, like I do every year on Aug 6th…. God bless all the brave bomber crews of WWII, especially Brigadier General Paul Tibbets and his men for ending the war. I took delight this morning when the tour bus full of Japs came into Harmons while I was having my morning coffee.

  • Guess who August 7, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Shut up Brian you disgust me you’re nothing but a communist sympathizer you ignorant excuse for an American. I hope the next bomb that gets dropped is on your house and you’re in it when it hits. It’s a shame that all those brave Americans died protecting garbage like you

  • fun bag August 7, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    From what I’ve seen Bri is one of the more rational right-wingers on the site and i find i can agree on a lot of things. The other ones are most often just complete kooks and radicals… None of you retards fought in that war so u should just stfu…

    • 42214 August 7, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      My dad was a marine in the Pacific Islands campaign. Till the day he died he praised Truman for having the courage to drop the bombs thus avoiding the invasion of the Japanese main islands and an estimated 1million casualties. As an American it boggles my mind that you can look at this as a wart or black eye in our history.

    • wilbur August 7, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      you, right, like you’ve swamped through many libraries reading about that war, and the horrors of all the men, on both sides, who fought….comic strips are more your style, fun bag

    • fun bag August 7, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Well rather than the Japs they should of saved it for mexico or some of them muslims. Japs make reliable cars

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