The mayor of Hiroshima yesterday called for the elimination of all nuclear weapons, marking the 61st anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack, which killed more than 140,000 people in the Japanese city.
Expressing concerns over the global proliferation of nuclear weapons, Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba urged the government of Japan -- the only nation to suffer atomic bomb attacks -- to take a leading role in the effort to eliminate nuclear arsenals.
"Sixty-one years have passed since radiation, heat rays and an atomic blast created hell on earth," Akiba said in a speech at Hiroshima Peace Park, near the bomb's epicenter. "But the number of nations enamored of evil and enslaved by nuclear arms has increased. The only role nuclear weapons have is to be demolished."
A bell rang at 8:15am, marking the time when the US B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped its payload on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. It was the first atomic bomb ever used in war.
About 45,000 survivors, residents, visitors and officials from around the world prayed for the bombing victims by observing a minute of silence in Hiroshima, 690km southwest of Tokyo. Hundreds of doves were released afterward.
An estimated 140,000 people were killed instantly or died within a few months after the bombing. Three days later, another US warplane dropped a plutonium bomb on the city of Nagasaki, killing about 80,000 people.
Ceremonies will be held on Wednesday's anniversary of the Nagasaki attack.