Japan marks 73rd anniversary of Hiroshima atomic bombing amid Korea denuclearization hopes

Isaac Cain
August 9, 2018

Matsui said the number of hibakusha alive today is decreasing, and therefore "listening to them grows ever more crucial".

In order to gain cooperation, Abe said, world leaders must understand "the reality of the tragedy of nuclear attacks", and reiterated Japan's pledge to maintain its pacifist and nonnuclear principles.

Some 50,000 people attended the ceremony on August 6, including hibakusha, or survivors of the atomic bombing, people who lost their loved ones to the USA attack in 1945, and ambassadors and representatives from 85 countries worldwide as well as the European Union.

The anniversary comes amid hopes to denuclearize North Korea after President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made vague aspirational statements of denuclearizing the peninsula when they met in Singapore in June.

A ceremony was held at the Peace Memorial Park, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Japan's responsibility is to bridge the gap between nuclear and non-nuclear nations.

The group played a key role in campaigning for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was approved by the United Nations in July previous year. Later that year, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, which led efforts to campaign for the treaty, won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

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For example, the Imperial Japanese Army's notorious Unit 731, which was based in the Pingfang district of Harbin, the largest city then in northeast China, was set up around 1936 and conducted vivisection experiments on live human beings to test germ-releasing bombs and chemical bombs, among other criminal atrocities.

In his speech at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park, Mayor Kazumi Matsui said certain nations were "rekindling tensions that had eased with the end of the Cold War", although he did not identify those nations.

The nuclear bomb weighed 4,400kg, measured about 3 metres long and was dropped at 8.15 am on August 6, 1945.

The United Nations secretary-general urged in his speech delivered by Izumi Nakamitsu, high representative for disarmament affairs, that hibakusha continue to exert their "moral leadership" for the world to seek the abolition of nuclear arms. Their average age is at 82.06, highlighting the challenge facing Japan of passing down their experiences to future generations. I really felt how scary atomic bombs can be. "I never heard the words 'atomic bomb, '" he told NPR.

The US attack on Hiroshima ultimately killed more than 140,000 people; the bombing of Nagasaki ended another 70,000 lives three days later.

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