Survivors mark 75th anniversary of U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, which killed 140,000
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN: Survivors of the world's first atomic bombing gathered in diminished numbers near an iconic, blasted dome Thursday to mark the attack's 75th anniversary, many of them urging the world, and their own government, to do more to ban nuclear weapons, reports The Associated Press.
An upsurge of coronavirus cases in Japan meant a much smaller than normal turnout, but the bombing survivors' message was more urgent than ever. As their numbers dwindle -- their average age is about 83 -- many nations have bolstered or maintained their nuclear arsenals, and their own government refuses to sign a nuclear weapons ban treaty.
Amid cries of Japanese government hypocrisy, survivors, their relatives and officials marked the 8:15 a.m. blast anniversary with a minute of silence.
The United States dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. It dropped a second bomb three days later on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000. Japan surrendered Aug. 15, ending World War II and its nearly half-century of aggression in Asia.
But the decades since have seen the weapons stockpiling of the Cold War and a nuclear standoff among nations that continues to this day.
Amid the solemn remembrances at Hiroshima's peace park, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was confronted Thursday by six members of survivors' groups over the treaty.
Even though Tokyo renounces its own possession, production or hosting of nuclear weapons, Japan is a top U.S. ally, hosts 50,000 American troops and is protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella. This complicates the push to get Tokyo to sign the treaty adopted in 2017, especially as it steps up its military role amid North Korea's continuing pursuit of a stronger nuclear program.
Abe, in his speech at the ceremony, said a nuclear-free world cannot be achieved overnight and it has to start with dialogue.
"Japan's position is to serve as a bridge between different sides and patiently promote their dialogue and actions to achieve a world without nuclear weapons," Abe said.
Earlier, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged world leaders to more seriously commit to nuclear disarmament, pointing out Japan's failures.