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Saturday, August 06, 2022, 16:13
Hiroshima fears new arms race on atomic bombing anniversary
By Reuters
Saturday, August 06, 2022, 16:13 By Reuters

People gather to attend the annual memorial ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on Aug 6, 2022, to mark 77 years since the world's first atomic bomb attack. (STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP)

TOKYO - Bells tolled in Hiroshima on Saturday as the city marked the 77th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres joined the thousands packed into the Peace Park in the center of the city to mark the anniversary of the bombing that killed 140,000 before the end of 1945, only the second time a UN Secretary General has taken part in the annual ceremony

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres joined the thousands packed into the Peace Park in the center of the city to mark the anniversary of the bombing that killed 140,000 before the end of 1945, only the second time a UN Secretary General has taken part in the annual ceremony.

"Nuclear weapons are nonsense. They guarantee no safety - only death and destruction," Guterres said.

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"Three quarters of a century later, we must ask what we've learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled above this city in 1945."

Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui said that around the world, the notion that peace depends on nuclear deterrence gains momentum." 

"These errors betray humanity's determination, born of our experiences of war, to achieve a peaceful world free from nuclear weapons. To accept the status quo and abandon the ideal of peace maintained without military force is to threaten the very survival of the human race."

At 8:15 am on Aug 6, 1945, the US B-29 warplane Enola Gay dropped a bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" and obliterated the city with an estimated population of 350,000. Thousands more died later from injuries and radiation-related illnesses.

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On Saturday, as cicadas shrilled in the heavy summer air, the Peace Bell sounded and the crowd, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is from Hiroshima, observed a moment of silence at the exact time the bomb exploded.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during the annual memorial ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on Aug 6, 2022, to mark 77 years since the world's first atomic bomb attack. (PHILIP FONG / AFP)

"At the start of this year, the five nuclear-weapon states issued a joint statement: 'Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,'" Matsui added.

Kishida, who has chosen Hiroshima as the site of next year's Group of Seven summit, called on the world to abandon nuclear weapons.

Earlier this week, he became the first Japanese leader to take part in the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). 

"We will continue towards the ideal of nuclear disarmament even given the current tough security environment," he said.

The Hiroshima catastrophe was followed by the US military's atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug 9, instantly killing more than 75,000 people. Japan surrendered six days later, ending World War Two.


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