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Japan marks 69th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing

Publication Date : 07-08-2014

 

A ceremony to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was held Wednesday, with Mayor Kazumi Matsui stressing the importance of sharing the memories of the victims and calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons around the world.

About 45,000 people braved pouring rain to attend the ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima to mourn the atomic bomb victims and pray for peace.

It was the first time since 1971 that the annual ceremony was held in the rain.

The ceremony was attended by atomic bomb survivors, representatives of bereaved families, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and delegates from 68 countries and the Delegation of European Union to Japan. The countries sending delegates included those possessing nuclear weapons—Britain, France, Russia and the United States.

At 8:15am, the time the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945, representatives of bereaved family members rang the Peace Bell, and the attendees offered a silent prayer for souls of the victims.

In his Peace Declaration speech, Matsui talked about the experiences he heard from four atomic bomb survivors.

“People who rarely talked about the past because of their ghastly experiences are now, in old age, starting to open up. To make sure the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki never happen a third time, let’s all communicate, think and act together with the hibakusha,” he said, using the Japanese term for atomic bomb victims.

The mayor also asked leaders of the nuclear powers to visit the atomic bomb site as soon as possible.

As representatives of local children, Yuichiro Muta, 11, a sixth-year student of Onaga Primary School, and Reiko Tamura, 11, a sixth-year student of Ushita Primary School, read out a commitment to peace.

With next year marking the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing, Abe said in his speech that he “would spare no efforts in working toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons and the realisation of eternal world peace.”

In regard to relaxing the criteria last December to certify sufferers of the aftereffects of radiation exposure in the atomic bombings, Abe vowed to make efforts so that as many sufferers as possible will be recognised.

As of the end of March, the number of living survivors of the atomic bombing across the nation was 192,719, down 9,060 from a year ago. The average age of the survivors rose to 79.4, up 0.6, from the previous year.

During the ceremony, name lists of 5,507 atomic bomb survivors whose deaths were confirmed in the past year were placed in the Memorial Cenotaph for atomic bomb victims.

Kennedy’s ‘somber reflection’

US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy attended the memorial ceremony as part of her first visit to Hiroshima in 36 years. Kennedy, who was wearing a raincoat, closed her eyes as the Hiroshima Peace Bell rang.

“This is a day for somber reflection and a renewed commitment to building a more peaceful world,” read Kennedy’s comment, which was released by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on the day.

In January 1978, Kennedy, then 20, visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum with her uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy. At that time, she met hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors.

 

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