Hiroshima, Japan, August 6, 2022 77th anniversary of the first nuclear weapon used in war. Up to 150,000 killed..
TOKYO (AP) — Hiroshima on Saturday remembered the atomic bombing 77 years ago as officials, including the head of the United Nations, warned against nuclear weapons buildup and as fears grow of another such attack amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.
“Nuclear weapons are nonsense. They guarantee no safety — only death and destruction,” said U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who joined the prayer at the Hiroshima Peace Park.
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 on Aug. 15, ending World War II and Japan’s nearly half-century of aggression in Asia.
“Crises with grave nuclear undertones are spreading fast” in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, Guterres said. “We are one mistake, one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from Armageddon.”
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, in his peace declaration, accused Putin of “using his own people as instruments of war and stealing the lives and livelihoods of innocent civilians in another country.”
Russia’s war on Ukraine is helping build 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 with the sound of a peace bell at 8:15 a.m., the time when the U.S. B-29 dropped the bomb on the city. About 400 doves, considered symbols of peace, were released.
Guterres met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida after the ceremony and raised alarm over the global retreat in nuclear disarmament, stressing the importance for Japan, the world’s only nation to have suffered nuclear attacks, to take leadership in the effort, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said.
Russia and its ally Belarus were not invited to this year’s peace memorial. Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin on Thursday offered flowers at a memorial epitaph in the park and told reporters his country would never use nuclear weapons.
“I must raise my voice to appeal to the people around the world that the tragedy of nuclear weapons use should never be repeated,” he said. “Japan will walk its path toward a world without nuclear weapons, no matter how narrow, steep or difficult that may be.”
Kishida, who will host a Group of Seven summit meeting next May in Hiroshima, said he hoped to share his pledge with other G7 leaders “before the peace monument” to unite them to protect peace and international order based on the universal values of freedom and democracy.