Nuclear warnings as Hiroshima marks the anniversary of the atomic bombing

Hiroshima remembered the atomic bombing 77 years ago, as officials including the head of the United Nations warned against a nuclear buildup, and as fears grew of another such attack amid Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Nuclear weapons are nonsense. They do not guarantee any security, only death and destruction,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres, who joined the prayer at Hiroshima Peace Park.

“Three-quarters of a century later, we have to wonder what we learned from the mushroom cloud that hung over this city in 1945,” he said.

The United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people.

Close

Visitors paid tribute to the victims of the atomic bombing with a moment of silence at 8:15 am when the atomic bomb exploded over the city, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (Kyodo News via AP)

Three days later, he dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000 people.

Japan capitulated on August 15, ending World War II and nearly half a century of Japanese aggression in Asia.

Fears of a third atomic bombing have been heightened amid Russia’s threats of a nuclear attack since its war with Ukraine began in February.

“Crisis with a major nuclear overtone are spreading rapidly” in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, Mr. Guterres said.

“We are one mistake, one misunderstanding, one miscalculation from Armageddon.”

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, in his peace declaration, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “using his own people as weapons of war and stealing the lives and livelihoods of innocent civilians in another country.”

Russia’s war against Ukraine helps garner support for nuclear deterrence, Matsui said, urging the world not to repeat the mistakes that destroyed his city nearly eight decades ago.

On Saturday, attendees, including government leaders and diplomats, observed a moment of silence at the sound of the 8:15 am peace bell as an American B-29 bombed the city.

Close

UN Secretary-General António Guterres lays a wreath at the cenotaph of the victims of the atomic bombing at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Kyodo News via AP)

About 400 doves were released, which were considered symbols of peace.

Mr. Guterres met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida after the ceremony and expressed dismay at the global retreat on nuclear disarmament, emphasizing the importance of Japan, the world’s only nuclear-attacked country, to take the lead in this effort, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. .

Mr. Kishida accompanied Mr. Guterres to the Peace Museum, where they each folded an origami crane, a symbol of peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Russia and its ally Belarus were not invited to the peace memorial this year.

Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin on Thursday laid flowers at a memorial epitaph in a park and told reporters that his country would never use nuclear weapons.

The world continues to face the threat of nuclear weapons, Mr. Kishida said at the memorial.

“I must raise my voice to urge people around the world never to repeat the tragedy of the use of nuclear weapons,” he said.

“Japan will go its own way to a world without nuclear weapons, no matter how narrow, steep or difficult it may be.”

Close

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Kyodo News via AP)

Mr. Kishida, who will host the G7 Summit next May in Hiroshima, said he hopes to share his promise with other G7 leaders “in front of the Peace Monument” to unite them to defend peace and international order at basis of the universal values ​​of freedom. and democracy.

Mr. Matsui criticized the nuclear-weapon states, including Russia, for not taking action despite their pledge to comply with the obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“Instead of treating a world without nuclear weapons as a distant dream, they should take concrete steps to realize it,” he said.

Critics say Mr. Kishida’s call for a nuclear-free world is empty because Japan remains under the US nuclear umbrella and continues to boycott the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.

Mr. Kishida said that a treaty without the US and other nuclear powers is currently unrealistic and that Japan needs to bridge the gap between non-nuclear and nuclear powers.

Many bombing survivors have long-term injuries and illnesses from explosions and radiation exposure and face discrimination in Japan.

The government began providing medical support to certified survivors in 1968 after more than 20 years of effort on their part.

Close

Visitors pray in front of a cenotaph commemorating the victims of the atomic bombing at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Kyodo News via AP)

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, as of March, 118,935 survivors, whose median age is now over 84, are eligible for public health care.

But many others, including those who say they were victims of the “black rain” that fell outside the originally designated areas, are still without support.

The aging survivors, known as hibakusha in Japan, continue to push for a ban on nuclear power and hope to convince the younger generation to join the movement.

Mr. Guterres had a message for the youth: “Finish the work that the hibakusha started. Carry their message forward. In their name, in their honor, in their memory, we must act.”